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BreakDown: The Berry Hill Industrial Park Announcement

On Monday, the Regional Industrial Facility Authority announced that a company was going to buy 300 acres of land in the Berry Hill Industrial Park and this would lead to a $250+ million investment in the region. Let’s take a comprehensive look at what has happened and what it means.

We call this a BreakDown.

Let’s start with the press release…

During its regularly scheduled meeting, the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority (RIFA) approved a purchase agreement with Wilmot Properties, LLC, for a project of regional significance in the Berry Hill Industrial Park in Pittsylvania County. The project will represent a significant private investment in the region, with a value in excess of $250 million. The agreement is for Lot 3B, a 300-acre tract of land located along Berry Hill Road.

Jessie Barksdale, RIFA and Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors Chairman stated, “This project, from our current understanding, would likely represent the largest single private investment ever in Pittsylvania County. Berry Hill Industrial Park was specifically developed for these types of large projects”.

Sherman Saunders, RIFA Vice-Chairman and Danville City Mayor stated, “It is exciting to know that our efforts and investment in the Berry Hill Industrial Park may result in such a regionally significant project, that would bring good jobs and shared revenue to our region. We look forward to more announcements for Berry Hill Industrial Park in the future”.

Due to confidentiality terms and the early phase of the proposed agreement, there will be no further comment at this time from Wilmot Properties, LLC, RIFA, or its Staff on the potential project.

Needless to say, SouthsideCentral was not surprised by this announcement one bit. Let’s take a look at what this all means. Let’s roll out a BreakDown Big Board.

  • This is real. Very real. Forget about the Job Busts that Danville has had in the past. This has absolutely no relation to that era at all. That era is dead and gone. Its ashes are blowing around somewhere (I hope you see what I did there).
  • If you try to trace down “Wilmot Properties, LLC” down, you’re going to run into a dead end quickly. That’s because it’s just a holding company formed to make this deal while the rest of the negotiations keep going. This is standard procedure in business deals like this, so stomp on all the conspiracy theories that will get spread about this.
  • This announcement and the announcements that will follow should obliterate any permitting roadblocks thrown up by the Army Corps of Engineers. The biggest roadblock was that the Corps wanted a specified end-user of the property before they issued construction permits. Now that the land is sold and an end-user is ready to start building, the permit process just got a lot easier.
  • RIFA, city & county staff and Dewberry are to be highly commended for their strategy of “Let’s bypass the Army Corps of Engineers by only asking to grade down a small part of the industrial park”. That allowed the permitting process to only go through the state process and helped seal this deal.
  • Needless to say, this isn’t going to be an instant process. However, you’re going to see announcements on this project over the next 2 to 12 months as things get finalized.
  • This deal is exactly why RIFA was created by the City of Danville & Pittsylvania County. The teamwork between the two municipalities are quite rare in the state, because most of the time economic development is a cutthroat business. It’s taken six years to get to this point, but it’s now all worth it.
  • It’s also quite fun to now point and laugh at all the naysayers that have said that nothing would ever come from the Berry Hill park or RIFA.

With all of that on the board, you want to know what the Big Project is going to be, don’t you? SouthsideCentral is 100% confident that we know what it’s all about. We don’t know the specific name of the company and exactly what they’ll be producing, but we know what will happen. The easiest analogy that I can make for this is to tell you to imagine a big set of dominoes placed just correctly so that when the first one is tipped, it sets off a chain reaction. Here’s a Big Board of the things that have happened and will happen to give you clues on what this is all about.

  • DCC pushes hard and builds up a very good precision machining program.
  • The Capstone project is announced at the Institute and the Gene Haas Center is created.
  • During the introduction to the Capstone program, we’re beat over the head with the reminder that there’s a big jet engine manufacturer in Prince George County that likes to have its parts suppliers located within a reasonable distance of the plant.
  • Highest quality jet engine parts are made using precision machining technology.
  • Pittsylvania County Schools already has a precision machining program at their vocational center with students completing it getting a FastForward pass to Year #2 at DCC.
  • Danville Public Schools comes up with this idea of starting a precision machining program at GW, with students completeing it getting a FastForward pass to Year #2 at DCC.
  • The city goes to the Tobacco Commission for funding to start the precision machining program at GW and gets turned down.
  • Miraculously, the city finds $1.6 million on their own to fund GW’s precision machining program.
  • Will all of those things in place, the Institute’s Capstone project will be able to spit out a steady stream of 30 to 40 certified precision machinists ever year.
  • A big company that decides to locate in the Berry Hill Industrial Park may start small in their first year but will quickly expand to the tune of 30-40 new jobs per year.
  • A big company like that wouldn’t locate in Southside Virginia without a guaranteed steady stream of certified precision machinists.
  • Locking in GW’s new precision machining program provides the Institute’s Capstone program with a steady stream of students.

That’s twelve giant dominoes that have been lined up perfectly to start the chain reaction. I think you get where I’m coming from. SouthsideCentral has been talking about this over the past year and it’s all coming together now.

And there you go, folks. That’s a comprehensive look at the land sale announcement and what it will lead to in the future. We call this a BreakDown.

43 comments to BreakDown: The Berry Hill Industrial Park Announcement

  • Fred

    So you are 100% confident that this big secret project will be a feeder industry for an engine manufacturer in Virginia that will be able to use our stream of graduates from the various precision machinery training programs. Are you pointing to the Rolls Royce engine manufacturing facility? That would be very exciting and tremendous news for our region. However, I think it’s bad form indeed for you to claim to know all the details and then refuse to tell your readers what you know. That’s sort of like saying “Trust me!” and people have grown a little tired of that.

    • I’ve given you all the details that I know and laid the foundation for what I believe. I hope that my SouthsideCentral track record can be the determination whether you believe me or not.

      I thought I made that clear when I said…

      We don’t know the specific name of the company and exactly what they’ll be producing, but we know what will happen.

      I’m not going to expose specific that could possibly blow the deal, but at the Capstone project luncheon I distinctly remember have the “Jet Engine” words pounded over and over.

  • JackieG

    I think you are doing great. People at the Institute love to claim the Rolls connection is correct in this case. One big shot over there said that may be in the future but this one is not it. Who knows. I just hope you keep up the good work. If all we had was that cesspool Register we wouldn’t know anything.

    • Thanks for the kind words. They’re limited to straight news coverage while I’m not. They’ve got some damned good reporters there, but management isn’t able to give them the time needed for true investigative reporting.

      I created SouthsideCentral with the idea of making it a fusion of news and opinion. That business model is working.

  • Arlene Creasy

    All of this sounds good. Hope u are right young man. Keep up the good work.

  • Berkeley Bidgood

    Rolls Royce was being courted by Ron Bunch back when he was economic developer but it fell through then.

  • KBS

    A guy at Mega Park says he’s heard it will be huge gas-powered power plant. I gather you’ve heard nothing like that. I like Rolls Royce engine parts much better. Might help our pitiful image.

  • Fred

    Here’s something Brucie should try to explain. Here is your statement: “Forget about the Job Busts that Danville has had in the past. This has absolutely no relation to that era at all.” Who is new in economic development that makes such a huge difference??? Is it all Telly Tucker. I mean, come on, the same idiots are there whose performance has made us the laughing stock of the whole state. Is it simply that even the blind pig can find an occasional acorn, or has there been some earth-shaking change most people don’t know about? If your reports are valid, you need to get to the bottom of the mechanics of it so that it might happen again and again……Thanks for your efforts.

    • Part of the change is who is new, and that’s Telly Tucker. Part is the new procedures that have been implemented to make sure the Job Bust era never happens again. The biggest part is that there’s no more Jeremy Stratton doing whatever he could to keep his job and there’s no Joe King failing to use the proper oversight.

  • Jerry


    I heard the same thing about it being a power plant. I guess time will tell.

  • Truthteller

    You might want to check more facts before going all in on the 100% prediction. Unless someone on one of the elected Boards has told you, specifically, that this is Rolls-Royce, don’t count on it. They have a 1000 acre industrial park in Prince George County. Why would they buy other land in Danville which is 150 miles away? Also, they laid off 2600 employees in the aerospace division in 2015; 1000 of those jobs were in the U.S. and they cited low oil prices as the reason. As for Precision Machining, dive a little deeper into the propaganda machine on that one. In a recent Register and Bee article, of the 14 graduates of the Flow Cell program (previously known as Capstone), 9 were going to continue their education, the others were mainly incumbent workers from BWX- they already have jobs. Six were staying on at DCC to get an associates degree (this will be their fourth year in college for this two year degree) and 3 were staying at DCC to become mechanical engineers. It will take them the same 4 years it would take any other student starting that program to get that degree. Those students will have gone to college for 7 years by the time they get that four-year degree. If they had been offered the multiple jobs that we are told they were, why would they not be off making the big money that has been promised since this whole process began more than 5 years ago? Would it be because there were no big money offers or they were offered jobs that required them to move away from the area and were not offering enough financial incentive to do so? Putting the program at the high schools is part of meeting grant goals, not needing a pipeline of students. The Machining program has been strong at DCC for decades; the just graduated 44 students in May. Find out if they all got jobs in the field.

  • Fred

    Excellent perspective. Facts are so refreshing. Too often, Bruce doesn’t dive deep….he just dives a lot. It’s the school of throwing it all against the wall and hoping some of it sticks. Point of Information: Has the name “Capstone” really been changed to “Flow Cell,” as Truthteller suggests? Part of Danville’s attempt to appear vibrant to outsiders is to keep changing names of things. Has that happened in this case?

    • I’m going to look forward to you coming back and saying that I was right on this. I especially enjoy your backhanded slams at me. They motivate me to work even harder.

      And no. “Flow Cell” is the theory behind the Capstone program. As you can see from a press release a few weeks ago, the Capstone name is still in full use.

      Congratulations to the Inaugural Capstone Class

      Sorry to break up another one of your theories. 😀

      • KBS

        Says much about you that you place primary blame for our humiliating recent past on one dead man and one long-gone man. You need to sharpen up if you want to make a difference in understanding the big picture. But thanks for confirming the RR deal. We needed that bigtime!

        • I place the blame where I believe the blame is due. Death or relocation doesn’t absolve anybody of blame.

          As I’ve said before, Jeremy Stratton was in the doldrums and that’s not good for an economic developer’s job future. I believe he took a chance and went for more venture capital type of funding plans to get some base hits. The Tobacco Commission didn’t give a rat’s ass because they knew the city was on the hook to repay the money if things busted out.

          We all loved a new ribbon cutting every two months and we all wanted to believe. Nobody wanted to be the one to stand in the way of those events happening.

  • Fred

    I suspect what KBS is trying to tell you is that you look ridiculous when you begin blaming failures on the people out the door and excusing the ones still here. It is an old and tired trick that fools no one. I don’t know where KBS is coming from, but I submit that you seem to have lost your edge in recent months in becoming an apologist for all the incompetents who have frittered away our money and our reputations. Among other things, I think you’d better go back and read what “Truthteller” is trying to lay out for you. Just my opinion.

    • So who do you want to have their head chopped off? Did you expect any member of city council to have the skills needed to properly evaluate a business plan?
      Where were you at when all of these job announcements were happening? You were with me, wanting to believe it was true and feeling good about each one of them. I put the blame where I see the blame is at.

      And I’m sticking with what I said in the BreakDown. 100%. I’ll enjoy the lunch that you’ll owe me when I’m proven right.

  • Fred

    Sounds like you are running for Mayor of Dodge City.

  • Michele

    I don’t mean to sound like a spoil sport or a tree hugger, but has an environmental impact study been done on the property? The reason I ask is because I happen to know for a fact that there are timber rattle snakes on the property, I’ve seen them. My cat killed one when i lived at the log cabin, that is surounded by the now industrial park property, back in the 1990’s. They are an enangered species in this area and building a factory where they live could completely wipe them out. I know the area needs jobs but what about the critters? There are also black bears, eagles, hawks, bob cats, coyotes, coywolves, turkeys, opossums, thousands of deer, and an array of other animals that live on that property, where are they suppose to go?

    • There’s been environmental impact studies, endangered species studies, wetlands studies and studies of those studies so far and I’m sure there will have to be more. Even though this industrial park sounds and looks huge, there’s plenty of open woodlands around.

  • Fred

    Who told you not to tell us all about the cancellation of the Governor’s big announcement on what you led us to believe is Roll Royce. You yakked endlessly about it to start with. So what happened? Talk is that the problem is with the folks putting together the deal. It has been sad to see the way your column has become an on-going apology for the dopes running things at City Hall. Come on, Brucie, and tell us what you know on your RR announcement.

    • You mean like what I pushed out on the SouthsideCentral social media feeds yesterday?

      UPDATE: Governor McAuliffe’s planned Danville visit to announce a new jobs project was postponed because the official deal wouldn’t have been finalized in time for next Tuesday’s ceremony. It had absolutely nothing to do with any issue regarding the Confederate flag, despite the claims of some flag supporters.

      Come on, ▒▒▒▒▒▒▒. You must have missed that one.

    • And let’s make it clear, I said absolutely nothing to imply that the governor’s announcement scheduled for next week was about Rolls-Royce nor a supplier. I was talking solely about the Berry Hill Industrial Park in this article.

  • Fred

    Glad to see you do not deny your site being an “on-going apology for the dopes running things at City Hall.” BTW, I thought you had a policy of not ID-ing contributors of this page.

  • Fred

    Well, you should inquire before outing people.

    • That’s not the way it works. That being said, I’ve blacked out your first name so that you can retreat back to throwing your bombs from the shadows of anonymity.

      I look forward to the dinner that you will buy me when everything I said has come true.

  • Fred

    This is all very embarrassing. No wonder your sources don’t trust you with the good stuff. But I guess I do need to thank you for trying to un-out me on your page. Good luck. You need it.

  • William Hardin

    What do we have here….

    “Gov. Terry McAuliffe and officials from Danville and Pittsylvania County will make an economic development announcement Tuesday morning in England.

    The announcement for the Dan River Region will take place at 9:15 a.m. Tuesday at the Farnborough International Air Show at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, England.”

    Why would a economic development announcement be made in England….at an AIRSHOW?

    The real question should be is this the big 250 million development fish or a smaller supplier to that supplier?

  • Fred

    Rolls Royce, according to SSide Central. Says he didn’t say it but he did.

  • Fred

    Did you decline to cover the big announcement? It’s bedtime in London by now and crickets on the big job announcement.

  • Fred

    So where were you tonight at the Bistro? I waited for awhile and went ahead and dined alone. Don’t tell me that you are no better at keeping your markers than you are at making investigative predictions.

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