In 2018 the City of Rockingham spearheaded an effort to redevelop underused private property into a new downtown campus for Richmond Community College. The City saw that this project would revitalize the parcel, bring more people to the downtown both day and night and increase educational opportunities for City residents. The total project cost was approximately $11 million for a building of approximately 40,000 square feet.
The City acted in effect as the lead agency for an effort that brought together funding from the City, USDA and local foundations, along with State community college bond money. Richmond County also agreed to take over maintenance of the building after completion. The City put a lot of time and effort into a project that was not for the City’s direct use or benefit.
Here are some of the reasons we like this project so much:
- It has intergovernmental cooperation between the City, the County and Richmond Community College, and also involved the private sector through the contributions of the local foundations.
- It brings government services (in this case, the community college degree and non-degree classes) to where the people are.
- It uses public facilities to accelerate downtown development, and gives people another reason to be downtown after five.
- The City was willing to use its expansive powers under the economic development statute to lead and finance a project of a type not customarily carried out by cities and towns. Not every community college building will be an economic development project for a municipality, but economic development – well within the broad definition of Section 158-7.1(a) of the General Statutes – was always the City’s driver in this undertaking. We admire the City’s taking on the project, which it didn’t have to do, and proceeding in an imaginative way.
We were very pleased to have worked as the City’s bond counsel through the authorization and financing. It’s a great looking building and it’s getting a lot of use.