Rocky Mount Assistant Town Manager and Harvester CEO Matthew Hankins is leaving the town after 13 years.
“Building, creating and sustaining the Harvester Performance Center is the highlight of my professional career,” Hankins said. “I love the venue, the staff, the volunteers and the fans, but the COVID-19 outbreak has provided me with the opportunity to assess my professional ambitions and my time spent away from my family.”
Hankins first came to Rocky Mount in October 2007, after serving as director of communications, legislative affairs and baseball operations for Martinsville. Prior to serving in Martinsville for six years, Hankins worked as a former newspaper editor and a House of Delegates legislative aide.
He said upon starting in Rocky Mount he intended “to learn, grow and become a town manager.
“I still intend to complete my career in municipal management, so I am actively seeking other employment in local government administration,” Hankins said.
He said the grind of many long hours has taken its toll.
“Over the past three months, I’ve come to see how many hours I’ve spent away from my family, my home, my church and my responsibilities to home and my God during the nearly nine years since starting the Harvester project,” Hankins said. “As I pursue new opportunities, I hope this clean break helps me achieve more work-life balance, striving to improve another community while I renew my purpose.”
Hankins’ offiical last day, according to Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin is June 30, but he doesn’t expect him to return to the office.
Town officials credit Hankins with economic development efforts that attracted more than $30 million in business to the town, including bringing in Empire Foods, as well as expansions at PlyGem Windows, Trinity Packaging/ProAmPac, Cavco-Fleetwood and Great Southern Wood.
Hankins also oversaw a town revitalization project before conceiving of the Harvester in 2011. He led the downtown venue from conception through construction and opening. The venue has been open six years and has hosted more than 1,000 shows under his guidance, winning the highest awards given by the Southern Economic Development Council, Virginia Economic Developers Association, Virginia Municipal League and Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. For his efforts leading the venue, Hankins was awarded the 2015 award as Virginia’s top local government assistant manager from the Virginia Local Government Management Association.
The Harvester reported a loss of approximately $158,000 for 2019 after reporting only a $27,000 loss in 2018. The venue has been closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but is planning outdoor concerts at the Rocky Mount Farmers’ Market this summer.
“All my work has been a team effort, and I want to make sure I recognize the teams who have made Rocky Mount’s success possible,” Hankins said. “The foundation has been laid for Rocky Mount’s future success, and I look forward to observing what the community does with its opportunities.”
Rocky Mount Town Manager James Ervin said recently hired Rocky Mount Cultural and Economic Director Beth Simms will be taking over Harvester Performance Center duties, and the town will seek a new candidate for the assistant town manager position.