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Editorial: Giant step for NCI's new building

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A week ago, the New College Institute’s plans for a new building were just that — plans. By week’s end, those plans had a commitment of $13 million to turn them into a reality.

That’s what we call progress.

NCI plans to build a $10 million to $15 million high-tech educational building on the Baldwin Block in uptown Martinsville. The approximately 50,000-square-foot building will house programs in advanced manufacturing, health care and entrepreneurship which NCI is developing.

Industrial-style bays in the building will have technology so that faculty and students can use equipment and computer software to manipulate and interpret data for engineering design in advanced manufacturing. The “next generation” health care program, planned to start next spring, will train people to use the most up-to-date health care technology, such as remote equipment that monitors patients after they leave a hospital in hopes of preventing a return visit, officials said.

Ground could be broken for the building as early as November, and the estimated three-year construction project could begin next spring, officials said.

This would not be happening without the support of The Harvest Foundation, which pledged up to $8 million to the project on Tuesday. Harvest has supported NCI since its beginning, recognizing that the institute has the potential not to just change uptown Martinsville but to also improve the educational level of area residents and the quality of the jobs they can fill.

But NCI is not just a Harvest project. That is why the $5 million approved by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission on Thursday is so important. It adds another layer of support for NCI and shows that commission members from outside this area understand the value of what the New College is doing and the impact it can have throughout the region.

In the short-term, we look forward to seeing NCI’s building plans on paper, the first dirt turned for the project and the creation of an estimated 200 jobs for the construction. In the long-term, we look forward to the impact this building likely will make on the area and its residents.


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