Only a small amount of dirt was unearthed Friday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Southern Virginia Technology Park, but it was the beginning of something big for Halifax County.
County officials, along with Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) staff and board members and project investors, all grabbed a shovel and with a celebratory flourish broke ground at the future site of a shell building to attract businesses and industries to the county.
The real work begins this week when contractors will start construction on the shell building. The Samet Corporation, a company based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the contractor for the construction project.
“I look forward to the dawn of the new era in economic development in this community,” said Brian Brown, Halifax County IDA executive director. “The building will provide a competitive advantage and allow Halifax County access to many of the business opportunities we were not able to compete for in the past.”
Brown added that the shell building would suit the needs of businesses in today’s fast-paced development climate.
“Businesses want to be able to move quickly without the uncertainties common in green field development,” Brown said. “The shell building allows a company to use the building footprint to customize the interior and meet the individual business needs without timely delays and offers an option to expand the facility for long-term development plans.”
IDA chairman Robert Bates also told the crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony that he believes the shell building will give Halifax County an advantage over other counties competing for new industries and businesses.
“Today is just the small start of what I believe is ahead for Halifax County if we work together,” Bates said. “Oftentimes we find when we’re competing with other counties such as Mecklenburg and Danville, they have buildings available that people can simply come to, restructure, upfit and get it ready to go, and we’re simply left behind because we have no way to get to the dance. Today I’m here to tell you, folks, we’re dressed, we have our tux, we have our car, and we’re ready to go to the dance.”
Hubert Pannell, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors, had similar thoughts, telling the crowd that the shell building would show potential investors that Halifax County is “open for business.”
“It is an exciting day here in Halifax,” said Halifax County administrator Scott Simpson. “The construction of the shell building from historical experience is very beneficial to communities, to be able to have the right building available for prospective industries.”
Gayle Barts, a representative from the Tobacco Commission, said she also looks forward to the day the crowd gathers at the Southern Virginia Technology Park once again to announce the creation of new jobs as a result of the construction of the shell building.
Brown shared with the crowd he could not wait to stand in front of them again at the announcement of a tenant for the shell building.
“Today is the first step in fulfilling our economic development potential,” Brown said. “I, for one, am looking forward to seeing our community thrive and prosper in the years ahead.”