Nash County February 2022


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

Dr. Lew Hunnicutt, President of Nash Community College (NCC), welcomed us to campus. Nash County is home to more than 96,000 residents, a population that is likely to grow due to its proximity to Raleigh. Roughly 12,000 people take part in NCC’s curriculum and continuing education programs each year.

We started our tour in the Student Success Center, an innovative advising and coaching model designed to retain students and support them on their educational journeys. While there, Jamal Pitt described the Minority Male Success Initiative and the M.A.L.E. (Men Achieving Leadership and Excellence) program. Pitt serves as the coordinator of the former and a success coach for the latter. The early success of these programs in retaining students of color has led to the development of a new program focused on women in the same demographic.

Success coaches working in the Center said that for students to be successful in a classroom, they need to feel supported when they encounter roadblocks in life. Students who need to take a break from classes to raise a family or focus on work are welcomed back with open arms and a plan to complete their education. When a student falters on their journey, a network of administrators, faculty, and staff alert success coaches. These coaches then work with students to develop appropriate support, whether that’s transportation to class, help with internet access, or specialized tutoring.

The college offers a nursing program and works closely with Nash UNC Health Care to support their needs. The demand for emergency medical technicians and paramedics is high in Nash County. One reason for this is that some agencies in neighboring areas can offer better hours and more desirable shifts. To ease the strain, providers are working with neighboring Halifax County to fill the need.

Our next stop was Rocky Mount Mills, where we met with Michael Goodmon, Senior Vice President of Capitol Broadcasting Company, Evan Covington-Chavez, Development Manager of Rocky Mount Mills, and David Farris, President and CEO of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce. We began our tour of the Mills at Books and Beans, a hybrid coffee and book shop owned by celebrated author Etaf Rum. While we enjoyed refreshments, Covington-Chavez shared details about the site’s history as a canteen for employees of the mill.

Located on the Tar River, the mill was originally constructed in 1818 for the purpose of manufacturing cotton cloth with a combination of paid and enslaved labor. Relying on the labor of enslaved Black Americans, the mill produced fabric used for Confederate uniforms during the Civil War. This made it a target for Union troops, who burned it down in 1863. It was rebuilt after the war and remained in operation with exclusively white paid laborers until the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. The mill closed in 1996, just one of many across the state that did the same in the 1980s and 1990s as a result of globalization in manufacturing. Rocky Mount’s mill sat empty for more than a decade. According to Goodmon, Capital Broadcasting purchased the site of the old textile mill and mill village in 2007, and began development of a residential, commercial, cultural, and entertainment venue in 2013. Now it includes apartments, restaurants, stores, and commercial and event space. It’s seen as an example of adaptive reuse, bringing fresh eyes to what Rocky Mount and Nash County have to offer. Goodmon and Covington-Chavez envision the Mills as a site for community connection.

Meet Dr. Algie Gatewood

Dr. Algie Gatewood is only the fourth President to lead Alamance Community College (ACC) since it opened in 1958. During Dr. Gatewood’s tenure at ACC, the college won its largest ever bond referendum – nearly $40 million – in 2018 to fund a number of major capital projects and expansions. The college also secured $16 million in county funding in 2014 to build the Advanced Applied Technology Center. Other notable accomplishments include creating a Biotechnology Center of Excellence, introducing an Early College, facilitating an apprenticeship program, and introducing nearly two dozen new academic programs and articulation agreements with state universities.

U39702, 12/22