ROCKINGHAM — Construction will begin this fall on the downtown campus of Richmond Community College, replacing the old R.W. Goodman store with RCC’s new School of Business and Information Technology.
RCC board members voted earlier this month to advertise for bids on the project by May. Last year, Rockingham City Council members cleared the last hurdle in the way of the project by making plans for a new alley that would let RCC receive deliveries at the campus and set out its trash for collection.
“We’re excited to have a time table established for this project and for it to get under way,” President Dale McInnis told trustees at their meeting last week.
The campus at Franklin and Lee streets will be a collaboration among the City of Rockingham, Richmond County and RCC, housing the Leon Levine School of Business and Information Technology in the new Kenneth and Claudia Robinette Building.
Levine, a Richmond County native and founder of Family Dollar, contributed $1 million toward construction of the downtown campus. On making the donation in 2016, Levine said he thought the school would “quickly become a regional hub in preparing students … for sustainable and meaningful employment in the present and future economy (and would) serve as a vital catalyst for transformative change in Rockingham by attracting new businesses, as well as visitors and residents …”
The school will comprise programs in accounting, business and office administration, and information technology.
The college estimates that students will begin to use the building in fall 2019.
RCC will name the 44,000-square-foot building housing the business school after Ken and Claudia Robinette, frequent contributors to the college. Ken Robinette is County Commission chairman, and Claudia Robinette, an RCC board member since 1998 and chairwoman since 2013.
Rockingham officially approved plans for the new campus in June 2016. At that time, the college estimated the development would cost $12 million.
According to RCC’s agreement with Rockingham, the city would buy the property needed for the new campus. The city also would oversee construction, and RCC would buy the completed building for $1 million. The city also agreed to waive inspection fees, estimated at $36,000.
“We’re blessed to be able to grow at a time when other colleges are not,” McInnis said at the time.
“This is a very big deal. It is an innovative and exciting project for the college and city, both. It provides RCC with the classroom space it needs, while also redeveloping a significant portion of downtown Rockingham.”