Monday, 24 September 2018 15:12

New Richmond Community College Campus Dedicated in Downtown Rockingham

Written by
Rate this item
(3 votes)
Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis, right, looks back at Kenneth and Claudia Robinette during the dedication ceremony for the college's upcoming downtown campus. The building, named for the Robinettes, will house the Leon Levine School of Business and Information Technology. Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis, right, looks back at Kenneth and Claudia Robinette during the dedication ceremony for the college's upcoming downtown campus. The building, named for the Robinettes, will house the Leon Levine School of Business and Information Technology. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Call it a wall-breaking ceremony.

Instead of golden shovels, local dignitaries and representatives from several foundations wielded golden hammers to strike the wall of a former men’s clothing store that will soon be the site of Richmond Community College’s downtown campus in Rockingham.

“What a great day for Richmond County, Rockingham and Richmond Community College,” RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis said at the start of Monday’s ceremony.

McInnis lauded how the campus was “a different kind of project,” with the way it was funded and because the city actually took the lead.

“It takes a team to make anything happen and we’ve got a great team here,” he said.

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said the idea for the downtown campus came about five years ago when Brian Collier, executive vice president of the Foundation for the Carolinas, took local leaders on a bus tour to Hartsville, South Carolina, and they saw how Coker College had impacted that town.

In 2015, McInnis said he was approached by Morris and Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson about building a satellite campus in the downtown area.


Since then, City Manager Monty Crump and Assistant City Manager John Massey have worked with the college, the architect and various foundations to bring the vision into a reality.

“Nothing makes us more proud than when we see communities come together for transformational projects,” Collier said.

He added that this was the second time in a decade this has happened in Rockingham. The first was the construction of Discovery Place Kids.

Collier said these types of projects were only possible through trust and the ability to make public-private partnerships work.

Last week, Morris boasted how eight businesses have opened around DPK since it was built and expects the same type of economic development to spring up because of the college.

Russell Bennett, chairman of the Cole Foundation, talked about the two landmark buildings — the former clothing store owned by Mike Long and furniture store owned by longtime Sheriff R. W. Goodman — that will be torn down and replaced with what McInnis called “another landmark.”

“Today, we begin to see the end of these buildings,” Bennett said, but a new beginning to a building that is “going to bring new life to Rockingham and downtown.”

State Rep. Ken Goodman, son of the late sheriff, spent his formative years in those buildings and said he can’t wait “to see this corner alive again.”

Goodman and state Sen. Tom McInnis were responsible for filing localized legislation in Raleigh to allow funds from the Connect NC bond referendum, passed in 2016, to be used for the project.

“Being able to be a part of making this a reality is the greatest thing as a legislator,” he said. “I’ve never been prouder to be a citizen of Rockingham and Richmond County and never been more optimistic about our future.” 

Sen. McInnis added that Richmond Community College has “always been built with a foundation on education” and said the new campus would be state-of-the-art and there would be “none better under the canopy of heaven.”

He also said the campus would be “a game changer” not only for Richmond County, but surrounding counties in the Pee Dee and Sandhills regions, as well.

The Cole Foundation and the Richmond Community Foundation, represented Monday by Roger Staley, contributed to the purchase of the properties.

The building will be named for Kenneth and Claudia Robinette, who chair the Richmond County Board of Commissioners and the Richmond Community College Board of Trustees, respectively.

Claudia Robinette said they were “deeply humbled” and that feeling was matched by their pride in the community.

“This doesn’t happen overnight,” Kenneth Robinette said, “especially in rural counties.”

The longtime commissioner said the college has been a “nucleus for economic development” and has stepped up with specialized training to help the county’s local industries.

The Robinette building will house the Leon Levine School of Business and Information Technology, named for the founder of Family Dollar and the namesake Levine Foundation, which granted $1 million for the project.

Levine got his start in the retail business at The Hub, his family’s shop in downtown Rockingham and created the bargain basement which eventually led to the formation of Family Dollar.

Levine wasn’t able to attend the ceremony but the Foundation was represented by Tom Lawrence, its executive director.

“Mr. Levine has so much pride in Rockingham,” Lawrence said.

Although The Hub no longer exists, Lawrence said there will soon be a new hub: “a hub for education, opportunity and upward mobility.”

Members of the contributing boards were given glass tokens of appreciation and those in attendance were given a rectangular paper weight with the architect’s rendering of the building with the date of the groundbreaking.

Morris said after the ceremony that construction is set to begin before the end of October and that he’s hoping the campus will open in January of 2020.

“Somewhere out there is the next Leon Levine,” Collier said.

 

 

Last modified on Monday, 24 September 2018 18:04