Monday, 12 February 2018 06:40

TOP STORY: "Hometown Strong", a New Economic Initiative by NC Governor Roy Cooper, to Impact Richmond County

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Concept map of available sites in the Richmond County Industrial Park. Concept map of available sites in the Richmond County Industrial Park.

ROCKINGHAM- Last week, Governor Roy Cooper announced a new initiative  intended to partner the state with local governments in order to support local economies, improve infrastructure and strengthen rural communities.  In a news release, Gov. Cooper stated, “Small communities like the one I grew up in have a special character and so much to offer. They deserve a real partner in state government and a chance to thrive,”  Gov. Cooper added, “That’s Hometown Strong.”

The program will focus on infrastructure, broadband access and workforce training and will work with local leaders from not only government but also business, non-profits, and philanthropic organizations. Through the partnership of state and local agencies, Hometown Strong will aim to  assist in completing local projects, begin conversations between state and local agencies, and identify long-term projects, to help facilitate growth.

“Helping rural North Carolina thrive is one of my top priorities,” Gov. Cooper said. “Families in rural communities aren’t looking for mandates from Raleigh – they want state government to listen and help when asked. We’ll listen to local leaders to make sure they’re getting the support they need to help their communities prosper.”

Locally, Richmond County Board of Commissions Chairman Kenneth Robinette said, “We have used every program offered, every tool, every economic grant, whether for green field, brown field or expansion; we’ve used every single one of them. We have been fortunate to have good developers who have sought out and made good use of these programs already.” 

Rockingham Mayor, Steve Morris noted, “The City of Rockingham and Richmond County have made some preparations of infrastructure, we have available sites, industrial parks, we have plenty of water, plenty of sewer while many rural communities don’t have those”. Morris went on to say, “It was expensive but we planned for growth, we have not just sat around waiting for somebody to come help us.  We’ve tried to help ourselves and made these preparations.”  Morris noted that hopefully with the governor’s new initiative, the work done already will pay off.  The current sewer plant was originally built with three times the capacity needed to allow for expansion; there is still over 50% excess capacity available at this time.  “With this capacity we could handle most anything that comes along,” said Morris.

According to data provided by the county, in the last five years there has been in excess of $300 million dollars in new (or expanded) industrial development in Richmond County.  Some of the most recent announcements include Purdue, Plastek, RSI, Direct Pack and Enviva.  These five sites alone have added almost 500 new direct job opportunities in Richmond County with numerous indirect jobs being added as a result of these new and expanded businesses.  The new program  Hometown Strong can only add fuel to the economic fire that has been ignited in our community.  

Last modified on Monday, 12 February 2018 06:45