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A LOOK BACK AT 2020: Businesses open, expand and close in Richmond County

J.C. Penney closed its Rockingham location this year, but officials with C.F. Smith Property Group announced this week that Burkes Outlet would be filling part of that space.
RO file photo

ROCKINGHAM — Despite the challenges in 2020, Richmond County saw the startup of several businesses and the expansion of others.


C.F. Smith Property Group started the year off with a rebranding from its former name, Tri-City, Inc., to honor the company’s patriarch and founder.

The commercial real estate company’s flagship shopping center in Richmond County, Richmond Plaza, saw the opening of Firehouse Subs and Aspen Dental in an outparcel and Planet Fitness in a long-vacant space formerly occupied by a movie theater.

However, the plaza also experienced the loss of anchor department store J.C. Penney, local retailer Christie’s Home, Garden, Gifts and national brands GNC and Foot Locker.

This week, C.F. Smith announced that Burkes Outlet would be coming to fill part of the former J.C. Penney location, with Hibbett Sports expanding into the remainder of the space.

In October, CEO Neil Robinette was named one of the 19 2020 Trailblazers by Business North Carolina.


Just prior to the pandemic, Sunset Slush opened up in IncSpace, a small-business incubator in downtown Rockingham owned by the Melvin family. The Melvins also publish the Richmond Observer, which has offices on the second floor of the building.

Since then, the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce has had eight businesses join: Touch of Glo Spa and Tanning; The Best Choice Healthcare; Farmasi with Diane (an online business); Crystal Clear Thrifty Boutique & Services; MKM Jump and Play; The Esthetics Lab & Wax Studio; Shear Dimensions; and Tedder Trash Solutions.

Also in 2020, Olin and Lorraine Britton started their food truck business, Britton’s BBQ and Grill; and another food truck, Seafoodie, recently announced plans for a stationary location in Hamlet.


While it was a slow year as compared to some in the recent past, there were a few announcements to come out of Economic Developer Martie Butler’s office.

In May, Impact Plastics announced it would be opening a second location in a shell building at Rockingham West Industrial Park. 

Butler said this is part of the five-year, $13 million expansion announced last April (2019) in which the company plans to add 30 new jobs paying an average of $75,000 per year.


The 40,000 square-foot building also includes an additional 40,000 square feet of graded space should the company wish to expand in the future, according to a press release.

A few months earlier, the county was awarded a $75,000 grant to demolish the former Tartan Yachts manufacturing plant, which sat vacant for 20 years.

Butler recently announced that Global Packaging would be expanding to a second location on the site.

Another manufacturer, Direct Pack, added on to its building on Airport Road.

In June, Pee Dee Electric announced plans for a new industrial park and co-op facility which will “include a customer service center, operations and engineering facility, a warehouse, fleet parking, dispatch center, a hardened secure data center, and administrative offices for the cooperative’s 66 employees.”

In a 4-2 vote during a special meeting on Oct. 8, the Richmond County Board of Commissioners approved a compromise on a rezoning request from CSX Transportation on a piece of property owned by the company off Marks Creek Road north of Hamlet.

International Tie Disposal, a biochar company, has planned for a location at that site and has applied for a synthetic minor air quality permit from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality Division of Air Quality.

In early December, two families, along with the city of Hamlet and town of Dobbins Heights, filed a legal complaint challenging the rezoning decision.