March 23, 2015
Dirt is being moved, skills are being learned and hopes for growing the area's industrial base all are occurring at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre.
The project to grade lots 1 and 4 — a total of about 170 acres — is on target for substantial completion on Jan. 7, 2016, according to information from Henry County Administrator Tim Hall.
He said recently that forecast still is accurate despite work days missed due to inclement weather.
Blythe Development of Charlotte, N.C., is the general contractor for the $14 million project. According to Hall's information, there are 63 people working at the site, and 57 of them were hired locally. Of those 57, 52 had limited skills in this type of work, but the contractor has said he was "very impressed" with the talent found here.
In training those workers for the project, new skill sets are being learned, Hall's information states.
Clearing and grubbing on the site has been completed, and more than 1 million cubic yards of material have been moved, Hall's information states.
Doug Lawrie, project manager for Blythe Development Co., which is overseeing the grading project, told the Henry County Board of Supervisors in February that the total project requires Blythe to move about 3.5 million cubic yards of earth, and so far, the earthwork is about 45 percent complete.
When the weather cooperates, he said, Blythe is able to move about 20,000 cubic yards of earth per day, and the employees at the site often work 10-12 hours per day, six or seven days per week.
Manufacturing is returning to the United States, according to Southern Business and Development. Announcements of projects in the Southeast of at least 200 jobs/$30 million investments totaled 410 in 2013, 363 in 2012, 350 in 2011, 335 in 2010 and 228 in 2009.
Local officials hope Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre will help position the area for that growth. It will be the only "megasite" in the commonwealth, according to Hall's information, and its sites are geared for large industries. Among comparable industrial announcements Hall mentioned are:
• Bridgestone Tire in Aiken, S.C., a $1.2 billion investment creating 850 jobs;
• Continental Tire in Sumter, S.C., a $500 million investment creating 1,700 jobs;
• Caterpillar Equipment in Athens, Ga., a $200 million investment creating 1,400 jobs; and
• Yokohama Tire in Westport, Miss., a $300 million investment creating 500 jobs.
The county also wanted that site due to its proximity to Piedmont Triad International Airport, where Honda Jet and FedEx are located. It also can draw from the workforce in both Virginia and North Carolina.
Henry County bought about 750 acres starting in 2007 for about $2.5 million to develop the megasite. Partners in the project include the Harvest Foundation, city of Martinsville, Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., the Tobacco Commission, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the U.S. Economic Development Administration and Mid=Atlantic Broadband.
The property is the only rail-served parcel owned by Henry County.
After spending nearly three years on the permitting process, the project received the go-head to proceed in April 2014 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
A "notice to proceed" was issued on July 16, 2014
Select News Year: