August 11, 2013
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is providing the New College Institute (NCI) $500,000 toward the construction of its new building now under way on the Dana O. Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville.
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia announced on Friday morning that the ARC awarded the money to the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development and the New College Foundation — NCI’s private fundraising arm — to help with the construction.
The ARC is a federal-state partnership involved in economic development and community sustainability efforts in areas surrounding the Appalachian Mountains in 13 states, according to its website.
NCI found out in February that it would receive the ARC money.
The institute’s new three-story, approximately 50,000-square-foot building will house new programs being developed in advanced manufacturing, health care technology and entrepreneurism.
An estimated 275 students initially are expected to be served with job training opportunities through the project, officials have said.
Specifically, NCI will use the ARC funds, plus $1,483,236 from the state, to build a 7,600-square-foot Grand Hall that will be used for conferences, seminars and lectures, according to a release from the Senate.
As a former Virginia governor, Warner said, “I congratulate the NCI leadership for pursuing this grant as part of NCI’s growth.”
“NCI is a key component of Martinsville and Henry County’s economic development strategy,” he said, “and I am eager to do everything I can to continue to move this project forward.”
“The New College Institute does critical work to train the next generation of Virginia workers and increase educational opportunities in Southside,” Kaine said. “I was proud to help make NCI a reality as governor and I’m proud to continue supporting its growth today as it provides students with the skills they need to compete for jobs in a global economy.”
Warner and Kaine both “understand the strong link between higher education and job creation,” said NCI Executive Director William Wampler.
“Their long-standing commitment to NCI has been important and reinforces their belief that higher education and economic development go hand in hand,” Wampler said. “I am pleased (for NCI) to receive this ARC grant as an investment in rebuilding our community through education and job creation.”
Roughly $17 million in federal and state funds and public and private grants has so far been raised to cover construction, equipment and furnishings costs for the building. The grants include up to $8 million from The Harvest Foundation and $5 million from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.
Construction began in May and despite some bouts of rainy weather, it is on schedule to be completed next spring, Wampler said.
In recent days, steel framing for the Grand Hall has been installed and concrete has been poured for the second floor, he said.
If the weather stays generally good, “we may get concrete for the third floor poured next Friday,” he added.
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