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Trade show looking for new home

Friday, September 13, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin staff writer

At least one thing will be different about the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce’s annual trade show next year. It will have a new location.

Fast Track trade shows are held on the first Tuesday and Wednesday each March. In recent years, they have been held at The Clock Tower Building at Commonwealth Centre, the former Tultex Corp. plant near uptown.

Chamber President Amanda Witt told the organization’s board of directors on Thursday that she found out from building owner George Lester that a tenant wants to occupy space the chamber used for the expo.

For that reason, she is looking for a new location for Fast Track 2014.

Anyone with a vacant space that can accommodate more than 100 exhibitors and thousands of guests may call Witt at 632-6401.

Witt is optimistic that a suitable new space can be found.

“The show will go on” somewhere, she said.

Chamber officials are considering ways to rejuvenate Fast Track so visitors will not see exactly the same thing every year and the show will not grow stale. However, Witt said they are not ready to discuss any ideas.

Also Thursday, the chamber board learned that Chairman Joe Keiper sent a letter on behalf of the organization to Gov. Bob McDonnell, thanking him for placing the Interstate 73 corridor on the candidate list for the 2013 Public-Private Transportation Act pipeline.

According to Del. Danny Marshall, R-Danville, the governor’s action means the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is seeking contractors to develop proposals on how to build the planned interstate highway.

Economic developers say communities with interstates running through or near them are more likely to attract new businesses and industries because large trucks that ship products and deliver materials to companies have an easier time traveling along those highways than other types of roads.

Officials have estimated it will take about $390 million to build a proposed initial 6.5-mile stretch of I-73 from the Patriot Centre industrial park to the U.S. 58 bypass in Henry County. So far, only about $8.5 million has been earmarked for the project, VDOT administrators have said.

Keiper, who is executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, noted in the letter that “our area has made strides in economic development and growth even in the wake of the recent recession.”

I-73, he wrote, “will represent a huge upgrade in our infrastructure and ... make Martinsville and Henry County an even greater draw for business and tourism. It is our sincere hope that work will begin in the near future.”

The board also:

• Learned that interviews have been conducted for the chamber’s vacant business services manager position. Witt said she hopes to hire someone within the next month.

The business services manager is involved in efforts to strengthen the local work force and serves as a liaison between the chamber and local businesses, assisting them with efforts including employee recruiting and training, according to the chamber’s website.

Laura Cary, the most recent person to hold the position, resigned to take another job, Witt said.

• Learned that chamber officials are attempting to schedule forums for candidates in the Nov. 5 election.

That includes Martinsville commonwealth’s attorney candidates as well as General Assembly hopefuls. Witt said incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Joan Ziglar and challenger Clay Gravely have agreed to participate.

• Found out that the annual State of the City and County luncheon will be held at noon Sept. 18 at the museum.

Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins and Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Adams will be the speakers.

• Approved three new chamber members — Paychex, West Imports and Scentsy. The chamber now has 624 members.

 

 
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