May 13, 2014


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer


The New College Institute (NCI) will use two grants totaling $850,000 toward equipping its state-of-the-art building under construction on the Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville, officials announced Monday.

A $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) will be used to buy videoconferencing equipment for distance learning and telemedicine training programs, a release showed.

The North American Development Bank’s U.S. Community Adjustment and Investment Program is contributing $350,000 that will be used to help pay for technology and furnishings for classrooms and advanced manufacturing educational space, according to the release.

The grants were awarded to the institute’s private fundraising entity, the New College Foundation.

The foundation provided a 50 percent cash match from private fundraising toward the RUS grant, said Development Officer Debbie Lewis.

Equipment purchased through the grant will allow NCI to provide instruction electronically to other learning centers in rural communities, such as The Center of Energy Efficient Design in Rocky Mount and the Crossroads Institute in Galax, Lewis said.

“Funding from this grant gives us a great opportunity to partner with other rural communities,” said NCI Executive Director William Wampler.

“Connecting the NCI facilities in Martinsville with other sites in southwest Virginia will assist our region with education, job creation, and the potential for economic prosperity,” Wampler said.

Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. and vice chairman of NCI’s board, said the institute’s advanced manufacturing initiative “has already made a significant economic development impact on this community,”

The Community Adjustment and Investment Program grant will “enhance the opportunity for highly skilled workforce training for jobs in existing industry and will serve as a tool to bring new industry to this region,” Heath said.

In February, Kilgour Industries Ltd. announced plans to break ground for a new plant at the Patriot Centre industrial park in Henry County. The British-based aerospace firm will hire 155 people over three years to work at the plant, which will be the company’s first in the United States.

Kilgour’s interest in locating in the community was largely due to the advanced manufacturing equipment and workforce training that will be available in the new NCI building, according to institute officials.

“Following the announcement of these two grant awards, the New College Foundation is in a great position to meet all of the fundraising goals for the Building on Baldwin capital campaign,” said Kimble Reynolds Jr., chairman of the foundation’s board.

The foundation is raising $2 million as part of the campaign. Figures on how much has been raised so far were not available Monday.

However, financial support received for the new building from federal and state grants and donations from individuals, corporations and foundations “has been phenomenal,” Reynolds said

The new three-story, roughly 52,000-square-foot building will be the first built specifically for NCI.

Education and training that will be provided in the building have a “potential to be game changers for this community and the broader region” in terms of economic development, Reynolds said.

NCI estimates the building’s total cost at $18.7 million. Of that amount, $16.7 million is being covered by grants NCI received from the state and various organizations. The two new grants will go toward the Building on Baldwin campaign to cover the remainder of the cost, Lewis said.

Building construction was expected to be complete this month, but bad weather resulted in delays. Wampler has said he now anticipates construction to be finished no later than mid-July.

Plans for a building dedication ceremony and grand opening celebration will be announced later this month, Lewis said.