Harvest pledges $8 million to NCI building

September 25, 2012

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Harvest Foundation will contribute up to $8 million toward construction of a high-tech educational building for the New College Institute (NCI) on the Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville, officials announced this morning.

Construction is expected to start in the spring. The total cost is estimated at $10 million to $15 million, said NCI Executive Director William Wampler.

Harvest’s pledge is contingent on the New College Foundation raising an additional $6.5 million from other sources.

Of that, $5 million is being sought from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. Wampler said he is optimistic that the commission will approve a $5 million grant for the building Thursday because the commission’s education subcommittee recently “acted favorably” toward the institute’s request for the funds.

It is “very common” for the tobacco commission to fund efforts to improve higher education, he said.

That will leave NCI’s private fundraising arm, the New College Foundation, to raise about $1.5 million. He said it will “aggresively pursue” grants as well as private donations.

A little more money may be needed, however, depending on the costs for technology to be installed in the building, he said.

Depending on the building’s actual costs and how much money is raised, Harvest might not need to contribute the full $8 million “challenge grant,” officials said.

Harvest’s contribution will come from a $50 million challenge grant put forward in NCI’s initial phases of development in the past decade to match state funding for the institute, they said.

Artist renderings have been developed for the roughly 50,000-square-foot building but no blueprints exist yet. Wampler said.

The building is to be erected on the vacant block that borders West Church, Market, Fayette and Moss streets and is named after the late local physician and philanthropist Dr. Dana O. Baldwin. Wampler said NCI will find a way for the building to pay homage to Baldwin.

The facility is to be home to advanced manufacturing, futuristic health care and entrepreneurship programs NCI is developing. It also is to have a “grand hall” where local events can be held, plus offices for NCI staff members. The Martinsville-Henry County Visitors Center and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC) are to move there.

NCI is working closely with the EDC to make sure area residents have skills they need to do jobs available in the region, Wampler said.


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