In the 1980’s and 90’s Rockingham and surrounding counties were flourishing districts featuring textile, furniture and tobacco industries. As the global system changed over the past two decades, Rockingham County changed to maintain their role in manufacturing jobs. Now once again, Rockingham County has lost some vital companies. The photographs above were taken by a community member this past year. When Miller/Coors, the second largest brewing company in the US, left, it took with it 520 jobs and left a vacant property and equipment worth $130,000,000. It also set the stage for the Ball Corporation who made beer cans to leave as well.
After talking with local economic developers, Jen Mangrum learned that not all is lost despite our current Senator. Because of the hard work of Rockingham County management and a three-year strategic plan, Reidsville gained the NTE Energy Plant and is working diligently to find a buyer for the Miller/Coors plant. Like many, Mangrum finds it hard to believe that our elected State Senator has done so little for the people who have elected him and in his own community.
Wanting to know more, Jen asked economic developers what would they need to develop Rockingham County and bring growth to the community. The first response was a career ready workforce strengthened by a more communicative partnership and leadership that understands the role of education at both the K-12 level and post high school options. The developers spoke highly of the County Board of Commissioners and services provided by the county. Jen Mangrum is ready to strengthen these relationships and provide state resources that are needed to create a workforce-ready population that serves as a model for the rest of the state. She believes our northern rural counties have been taken for granted and deserve better.
Another theme from the developers was the lack of investment on part of our General Assembly in infrastructure; water, sewer, railroad, gas and broadband width. A variety of options are available to the state to invest in our rural communities and yet under current leadership this has not been on their radar. Instead they squirrel away millions of dollars for a rainy day. To the citizens of our rural communities, it’s raining.
Our rural districts around the state are the heart of North Carolina. The people in rural districts, like Jen Mangrum, want to provide their families with a thriving community, a strong downtown district, and the amenities necessary to work and learn in these areas. Jen wants to represent the needs of our district by advocating for them in the state budget and building a strong relationship with the businesses and industries in her district.