Tobacco Commission to Martinsville: Return the $800,000

(Courtesy of Style Weekly)

Thursday the Tobacco Commission ruled it wants its $800,000 it gave the city of Martinsville to help fund the School of Medicine proposed by Dr. Noel Boaz. The money was given on the promise that in a year and a half, thirty people would be employed full time and $1.5 million would be invested. Additional money from a California investor failed to materialize and the terms of the grant were not met, even with an extension. Additionally, the framework of the school has changed from a for-profit entity to a non-profit. That change would mean no property taxes would be generated to the city, a requirement needed to qualify for the grant funds in the beginning.

It’s unknown how unusual it is for a municipality to essentially be the co-signer of a grant for a business, but that’s what happened, and now the city is on the hook. The Commission says they are agreeable to a payment plan and Boaz says he’s not giving up on the college.

Whether he’ll be able to return any of the money to the city is also unknown.