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Ground broken at CCBC
Using gold-colored shovels to break ground at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre are (front row, from left) Del. Danny Marshall; Sam Louis Taylor, who is with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s office; state Sen. Bill Stanley; U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine; Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman H.G. Vaughn; 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt; 9th District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith; Del. Charles Poindexter; Martinsville Mayor Kim Adkins; John Parkinson of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. (EDC); and Del. Les Adams. Behind them are (from left) Henry County Supervisors Debra Buchanan, Milton Kendall and Jim Adams; Martinsville City Councilmen Mark Stroud and Gene Teague (near right with sunglasses); Allyson Rothrock of The Harvest Foundation; and Mark Heath of the EDC. Standing on the bulldozer in back is Henry County Administrator Tim Hall (left) and Rick Thomas, an environmental engineer with the Timmons Group in Richmond who has helped with the business center project.
Friday, April 18, 2014
By STORIES BY BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
A long-awaited groundbreaking for Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre on Thursday was the result of cooperation and collaboration, according to state political leaders who spoke at the event.
Speakers included Sen. Tim Kaine, Del. Danny Marshall and U.S. Reps. Robert Hurt (5th District) and Morgan Griffith (9th District).
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved a long-sought grading permit for the business center on April 4.
Previously, the corps had been reluctant to issue the permit due to the lack of a company publicly committed to the site and prepared detailed blueprints. However, a company would not relocate to the site without the approved permit, creating a stalemate.
“To Henry and Martinsville, this worked because you did it together,” Kaine said. “You can’t take that for granted. ... The cooperation between a city and adjoining county is not something you take for granted anywhere in Virginia. I applaud everybody for keeping that vision alive and then communicating effectively to us at the federal level what we should do.”
Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner, both Democrats, and Hurt and Griffith, both Republicans, worked together for nearly two years to help push the project into development. The four also introduced the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act in both Houses of Congress to remove regulatory roadblocks to development.
While there is a perception — often accurate — that members of Congress do not work together, Kaine said, the Virginia delegation has a monthly lunch to socialize and discuss projects such as Commonwealth Crossing.
“This Commonwealth Crossing project has been a steady feature of our lunches virtually every time that we’ve met,” Kaine said. “We’ll get updated on the progress, and then we’ll decide ... what can we do to move it forward. ... We’ve introduced stand-alone legislation, we’ve had meetings with Army Corps officials; we wanted to make sure that we were really paying attention on this. The more we pay attention, the more the corps then goes back and sits down and talks in a meaningful way with Martinsville and Henry.”
Added Kaine, “Just as Henry and Martinsville had to work together to make this happen, those of us in Congress had to work together to make sure the corps did the right thing. I thank the corps for doing the right thing, but I also thank my colleagues for helping make sure that this got reviewed on the merits it deserved.”
Hurt said that for the Virginia congressmen, “Jobs are our number one priority, jobs are our number two priority and jobs are our number three priority.”
“We have a profound responsibility to do everything in our power to attract new jobs to Martinsville and Henry County,” he said, “to attract new jobs to Southside Virginia and to promote the job growth that our people desperately need.”
Griffith echoed Kaine in stressing the importance of the collaboration on the local level that made Commonwealth Crossing a reality.
“There’s not a thing we could have done in Washington if the folks in this area hadn’t first put the project together and done all that hard labor,” he said.
Marshall, who is a member of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, said that commission is the biggest source of funding for Commonwealth Crossing. Over two years, he said, it has provided a total of $15.6 million for the site.
Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Mark Heath said work will begin on the site soon, beginning with the grading of 140 to 170 acres.
Heath added that his office currently is working with two clients who are interested in relocating to the site, although he declined to name them. He sent materials on the site to a third prospect on Thursday, he added.
“We expect to see great things from this,” Heath said. “It has been on a lot of people’s radar screens, but being able to see the dirt turning, it just takes us to another level.”
Warner was not able to attend the groundbreaking due to a scheduling conflict. Sam Louis Taylor, who is with Warner’s office, read a letter the senator sent expressing his best wishes for the event and the future of Commonwealth Crossing.
In his opening remarks before introducing Kaine, Henry County Board of Supervisors Chairman H.G. Vaughn neatly summarized the long path that led to the groundbreaking ceremony.
“The Henry County Administration Building is at the approximate center of Henry County,” Vaughn said. “We are standing at the southernmost boundary of Henry County. So how long does it take to get from the Henry County Administration Building to this point? Well, I’m going to tell you. It takes two years, hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars and a lot of heart and soul.”
“Today,” Vaughn said to applause, “we can officially say that Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre is under development.”