Rocky Mount Region Begins Visioning Initiative

They're separated by a railroad, yet tied together by the advantages this vital transportation artery brings to Rocky Mount and the two counties it lies within.

Rocky Mount is unique in that it sits directly within and on each side of the Nash/Edgecomb railroad-divided county line. While that bit of geography creates leadership and turf challenges from time to time, it also continues to generate economic opportunity for an area that could be considered a pioneer in regionalism.

"We are tied together in so many ways," says Mayor David Combs, a Rocky Mount native serving his first term as mayor of his hometown. "The fact that we are joined at the hip with both counties means that we try to find ways to work together."

The Carolinas Gateway Partnership, a successful public/private partnership that includes these three governing entities, is one example of regional "tripartisanship." It was created several years ago to recruit industry to an area dealing with a changing economy.

"Now, we are taking a hard look at our region through a visioning process," Combs says. "We want to take a step back and see what other people see when they think of us. By approaching this as a region, we can put more resources into it and get a better result."

The counties and the city are now pushing full steam ahead with a visioning initiative, led by Dr. James Johnson of the UNC School of Business, to set measurable and attainable goals that will propel the region into a prosperous future.