Harvest's president speaks to Episcopal men's group

March 17, 2015

The Harvest Foundation is successful if the community is better off thanks to the foundation's investment.

Harvest President Allyson Rothrock explained that and other aspects of the foundation to members and guests of the Christ Episcopal Church men's group on Monday.

The foundation's return on its investments is determined by how people's lives have improved, and "we measure in every way imaginable" to determine that impact, Rothrock said.

Harvest was created with the $150 million in proceeds from the sale of Memorial Health Systems to Province Healthcare in 2002. It now is owned by LifePoint Hospitals.

Since 2002, the foundation has invested the sale proceeds and used the earnings to support and advance initiatives in health, education and community vitality in the Henry County-Martinsville area.

Harvest has awarded 220 grants since 2003, investing a total of $95.56 million in the community, Rothrock said. That does not include money pledged but not yet spent, she added.

At the end of February, the foundation had $217 million in assets, she said. 

The foundation employs a private investment advisory firm, but investment decisions are made locally by a board committee and the board itself, Rothrock said. They are reviewed daily, she said.

A "key driver" in those decisions is protecting the endowment so the foundation can invest in the community in perpetuity, she said. Board members have always agreed that they will not spend the foundation's assets down so the fund will be here to help future generations, she added.

Rothrock added that Harvest is not perfect.

"We can't do everything for everyone," she said. But the board "tries to do the right thing for the right reason."

Since its inception, Harvest grants have been awarded in three sectors: community vitality, including economic development, $39.86 million, or 41.7 percent; education, $38.47 million, or 40.3 percent; and health, $16.76 million, of 17.5 percent.

Rothrock gave highlights of some of the foundation's investments and initiatives.


Harvest has conducted two community health investments in the last 13 years. One led to the creation of the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness, which focuses on access to health care and prevention of health problems.

The coalition operates the Bassett Family Practice, a federally qualified health center that serves all area residents on a sliding scale. It offers people a permanent medical home, and also focuses on health care in the work place, Rothrock said.

It serves 3,700 families annually and has dispensed $14 million in medication, she added.

Also, the Health Connect program is a free one-stop referral network that recently opened an office next to the Artisan Center on Church Street in uptown Martinsville.

In all, the Coalition for Health and Wellness has leveraged $18 million in local, regional, state and federal dollars to benefit the community.

Harvest also has supported the Community Dental Clinic in Martinsville. Since the clinic opened in 2006, it has provided more than $6.1 million in dental services to the unemployed or uninsured adults and children in Martinsville and Henry County. There have been 26,502 patient visits during that time.

To promote healthy lifestyles, 14 miles of trails have been created since Harvest started, and 2,600 riders bike 24,000 miles annually on and off the trails, she said.


Harvest has supported education initiatives from early childhood through post secondary, Rothrock said.

That includes the Smart Beginnings program to promote early childhood care and education and $8 million invested in K-12 education, almost all for professional development.

Rothrock talked at length about the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing, which was created in seven months to help meet the need for skilled employees in film and other industries. Harvest has helped convene and facilitate the center's development but has not invested in it, she said.

There are 44 students enrolled in the program, and the first group is expected to graduate in two months, she said. Eleven of the students have paid internships with Eastman, she added.

"I think it is a model" program and likely will be duplicated in other areas based on interest shown in the program elsewhere, Rothrock said.

She also described the MIX program, which takes educators into industries to see the skills needed in the workplace, and Harvest's support of the New College Institute and its new building in uptown Martinsville.

NCI has leveraged its funding by $22 million, Rothrock said, adding that it has received 91 cents from other sources for every $1 Harvest invested in it.    "Education is huge for us," she said. She noted that education was not always important to the community because it was not needed for people to get jobs. But those days are gone, she said.

Now, Harvest has to invest in initiatives to create a culture that emphasizes education and shows people how it will improve their live, she added.


Southern Business and Development magazine's Top Ten edition, due out soon, ranked this area in three of its top 10 categories, Rothrock said. The 10 economic development programs in the South worth a look include the advanced film manufacturing center; the 10 sites with rail, air and interstate access include Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre; and the 10 "comeback kids" include Martinsville-Henry County, she said.

Since the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. was created in 2006, there have been 17 companies recruited to the area; 3,668 jobs have been created; and capital investment has totaled $314.8 million, Rothrock said. That is a rate of return of $21.36 for each $1 invested in the EDC, she said.

She also mentioned the grading under way at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre; tourism efforts which have generated $64.9 million in annual expenditures locally; Philpott Marina, which had $100,000 annual gross revenues in its first year of operation; as well as Harvest's support of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, TheatreWorks Community Players and the Smith River Sports Complex. 


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