The Lasting Impact of Rocky Mount's Harvester Performance Center

Nov 10, 2017

In less than four years, a concert venue on the Crooked Road Music Trail is making a small southwest Virginia town a destination for music lovers. Luke Church reports on the impact of the Harvester Performance Center in Rocky Mount.

New concerts coming to the Harvester were announced recently, including Grammy winner Michael McDonald.

It is this level of artist and the consistency of the shows and community support that have contributed to the Harvester’s success, according to CEO and Rocky Mount Assistant Town Manager Matthew Hankins

“Program it heavily and get behind it. You’ve got to have your local residents willing to support it. You’ve got to be able to program it heavily, because the impact comes from people coming in,” said Hankins.  “We don’t have a civic center type impact here, we can’t bring in, five, six, seven thousand people at once. We bring people in, five, six hundred at a time.   So, if you don’t do programming on a consistent basis, three, four times a week, you don’t see the economic impact.”  

Hankins says the town also helps the Harvester financially.

“When the Harvester opened we saw a significant increase in what we brought in through meals tax income and those funds went back into supporting the Harvester.” 

Hankins says this year that amount is expected to be about 340,000.

He says this investment by Rocky Mount in the Harvester is paying big dividends, so much so that Virginia Tech’s Department of Economic Development has been commissioned to do an economic impact study.

“Well, we’ve been pretty conservative with the numbers. I’m confident the number is going to be higher than we have been saying, four to five million dollars in local annual economic impact,” he says. But, we’d like them to certainly give us what their sense is of what we do. And, they’ve got a lot of good data, too, to give us good numbers. So, we’re pretty excited about whatever that number is.”     

In the meantime, Harvester general manager Gary Jackson will keep bringing concerts to Rocky Mount.

Other shows coming to the Harvester after the first of the year include Southern Culture on the Skids, Blues Traveler, Taj Mahal, and Tower of Power.

Will Jackson reveal his secret to success?

“I’d have to shoot ya. I don’t know if there is any secret. I’ve just been doing it my whole life. You know it’s like being a farmer. You plant this idea and you try to nourish it and watch it grow.”

“There is no magic formula,” he explains.

But, Jackson keeps the magic happening.

Blackberry Smoke will be at the Harvester in February… and the show is already sold out.

The Harvester Performance Center is a financial partner of RADIO IQ.