NCI opens fundraising campaign to the public

January 28, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The New College Institute (NCI) now is accepting donations from the public for the construction of its new building on the Baldwin Block uptown.

A $2 million “Building on Baldwin” fundraising campaign was established in October 2012 to supplement grants received toward the construction. Its focus has been on reaching out to potential donors who were identified. 

Now, the campaign is at the point where “we’re reaching out to the broader community” for donations, said Debbie Lewis, development officer for the New College Foundation, NCI’s private fundraising arm.

Those donations will be crucial to helping the campaign reach its goal, she said. 

The three-story, roughly 52,000-square-foot building will be the first built specifically for NCI. It will house programs that the institute is developing in advanced manufacturing, health care technology and entrepreneurship.

The building also will contain NCI’s administrative offices and public event space. The Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. and the uptown visitor’s center plan to move into the structure. 

New Atlantic Contracting of Winston-Salem, N.C., is the building’s general contractor. It submitted the lowest construction bid of $13,289,000.

NCI has estimated the building’s total cost at $18.7 million. That includes every expense from construction to installing equipment and furnishings to “every window cleaning,” said Executive Director William Wampler. 

Of that amount, $16.7 million is being covered by grants awarded to NCI, including up to $8 million from The Harvest Foundation, $5 million from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and $1.75 million from the federal Economic Development Administration.

The grants also include a $700,000 Community Development Block Grant and $500,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission, plus $750,000 from the state to be put toward equipment purchases, Wampler said. 

Donations to the “Building on Baldwin” campaign so far include:

• $100,000 from Memorial Hospital in Martinsville, designated to help pay costs for equipping the building, 

• $50,000 from Hooker Furniture Corp.,

• $40,000 from Dominion Power, to be used toward NCI’s Academy for Engineering and Technology, which will be based in the building. 

• $25,000 from the Charity League of Martinsville & Henry County.

NCI officials will not say exactly how much the campaign so far has raised. 

The institute is seeking some grants that are “competitive in nature ... to finish off parts of the building,” Wampler said. If NCI were to announce how much the campaign has raised, it could jeopardize those grants or amounts received, he said.

“We still have some major gifts outstanding,” Wampler said. Although they have not been finalized, “we have confidence” they will be received, he said. 

He declined to identify the donors because their gifts are not yet final.

Lewis said NCI will “be grateful for gifts of any amount,” large or small, to the “Building on Baldwin” campaign. 

“Naming opportunities” for classrooms and other spaces in and outside the building are available for donations of $25,000 or more, Lewis and Wampler said.

Donations may be mailed to the New College Foundation, 29 Jones St., Martinsville, Va. 24112. 

The foundation can provide packets of information about the campaign to anyone considering a donation, Lewis said.

Wampler estimated that the building’s construction is 63 percent finished. He said construction is “pretty much” on schedule to be completed in May, despite a few minor weather delays due to the recent extreme cold. 

Construction crews have “worked every single day except Christmas Day,” Wampler said.

A transformer has been delivered to the construction site. Soon it will be installed, enabling contractors to have electricity to heat the building. That will allow temperature-sensitive work, such as installation of dry wall, to be finished, according to Wampler. 

He tentatively expects construction to be finished by May 15, with New Atlantic handing over keys to the building around that time.

A “grand opening weekend” is being planned for late June. Lewis said the weekend will include activities for the community at large, plus an event to honor “major donors” who contribute at least $2,500.


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