NCI to put labs in uptown

July 28, 2011

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The New College Institute (NCI) will renovate and lease space inside the former Bargain Center store on Fayette Street for use as laboratories.

NCI’s board on Wednesday voted unanimously to lease about 6,200 square feet of space in the building for five years at a cost of $37,200 per year.

That will provide enough space for science and health labs, various types of storage, rest rooms, communications equipment and a lounge with vending machines, a report in the board’s agenda packet showed.

The institute does not have any lab space now.

NCI officials expect that whatever university eventually takes over the institute and turns it into a branch campus will provide health and science programs, according to Executive Director Barry Dorsey.

“This will give our partner (university) a leg up” in teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses, he said.

“We’ve got to have it (lab space) if we’re going to do STEM stuff,” board Chairman Rob Spilman said. “Everybody says that’s the future” of education.

The labs also are to be used by the Piedmont Regional Governor’s School, which occupies some of NCI’s space in buildings in uptown Martinsville.

NCI will use $336,725 from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission to remodel space in the building, which is owned by Mervyn King. He owns other buildings uptown that the institute occupies.

Already, King has put a new facade on the building. He will be able to lease remaining space in the building to other users, the board’s report showed.

Renovations are expected to be finished by December, Dorsey said.

Also Wednesday, the NCI board approved a state funds budget totaling $2,014,107 for the fiscal year that started July 1.

That amount includes a General Assembly appropriation of $1,464,107 plus $150,000 from the Higher Education Equipment Trust Fund and $400,000 from the tobacco commission, a document shows.

The trust fund provides money to upgrade equipment for instruction and research.

Dorsey said the tobacco commission money — which includes the funds for the lab renovations — is part of a $1 million grant NCI received last fall to create labs, analyze what types of academic degree programs need to be provided locally and develop an entrepreneurship program.

The remaining $600,000 can be accessed in the future when it is needed, he said.

More than half of the state funds — $1,058,368 — will go toward salaries and benefits for staff. Another $490,728 will go toward utility and building maintenance expenses, while $131,500 will go toward contracted services such as advertising and pest control, $68,511 will go for administrative and office expenses, $256,000 will be used toward information technology expenses and $9,000 will go for employee travel and training expenses, the budget shows.

The board also:

• Learned from Dorsey that the New College Foundation’s ongoing fundraising campaign so far has raised $1,164,099.

A 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, the foundation accepts donations to benefit NCI and its students, such as through scholarship endowments.

“A couple of large contributions” are expected to come in soon and increase that amount, Dorsey said, adding that he hopes the campaign is able to raise $1.5 million by the end of the year.

Officials have said the foundation’s overall fundraising goal is $2.5 million.

• Approved the renewal of leases for the King and Pythian buildings uptown for NCI facilities.

The institute will lease about 17,000 square feet in the buildings for five years at $5.69 per square foot, Dorsey said. That equals about $96,730 annually.

• Approved workplace harassment and emergency response plans.


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