The Harvest Foundation will invest a total of $7 million over the next 4 ½ years at the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) to continue MHC’s upward trajectory of job creation, wage growth, and tourism.
“A robust economy with diverse businesses offering living-wage jobs is at the bedrock of a thriving community,” stated DeWitt House, senior program officer at The Harvest Foundation, in a press release. “The EDC is our largest recruiter for jobs and industry to Martinsville-Henry County. They work to attract outside investment from national and international companies to bring jobs to the region that pay living wages. It is our hope that this long-term investment from Harvest will support the EDC in its commitment to continued stability and lasting success.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, local jobs in the manufacturing workforce increased at a steady clip from 2013 to 2019 following 22 consecutive years of net loss. Up against the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the EDC maintained its highly successful record in job creation and increasing the local tax base.
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Since July 1, 2018, the EDC assisted with eight new company announcements and nine expansions of existing companies, creating 1,358 new jobs, and facilitated $379.5 million in capital investment for Martinsville-Henry County. The average weekly wage rose from $579 in 2010 to $696 in 2020.
For every dollar The Harvest Foundation invested at the EDC since 2019, $59.96 was brought back into the community.
“The Harvest Foundation’s continued support of the EDC’s holistic mission is vital to our success and is much appreciated,” said E. Larry Ryder, chairman of the EDC’s Board of Directors. “This multi-year commitment exemplifies the strong partnership that has been forged through the years, and the EDC looks forward with anticipation to what can be accomplished for our region in the future.”
Traditional economic development remains at the forefront of the EDC’s mission in recruiting new companies to the area and supporting existing businesses with expansion needs. However, the EDC focuses on a host of other projects and programs designed to create positive outcomes for each and every resident in Martinsville-Henry County.
Its tourism program, which includes a state-certified visitor center, works to develop vibrant uptown spaces, active outdoor recreational opportunities, and beautiful event spaces. The EDC also partners with community organizations working in housing, childcare, community asset planning and development.
Business development programs at the EDC highlight entrepreneurship and focus on growth and development companies that have less than 25 employees. Training and educational workshops are available to business owners, as well as support with government procurement and contracts.
The EDC also manages Martinsville Made, a workforce development initiative responding to industry needs by facilitating the recruitment of highly-skilled workers via its new aggregate jobs portal. Its internship program, which was placed on hold in 2021 due to the pandemic, will resume in 2022 with internships linked to existing career openings.
Visit theharvestfoundation.org for additional information on the foundation and its programming.