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Goodmon and his team are open to other ideas as well. They are working with a local community college on a brewing certification program—a classroom is located on the campus—and are planning to create a tiny-homes motel, with 190-square-foot (18 sq m) units. A 7.5-acre (3 ha) island in the middle of the river is to eventually become a landscaped public space. The real question is whether the company can attract businesses to the complex, which is being redeveloped with the help of state and federal historic tax credits. With high windows, exposed brick, and 1800s-era wood beams, the mill’s interior, where offices will be located, is unlike anything else in Rocky Mount. So far, roughly 30,000 square feet (2,800 sq m) of space has been leased to three tenants; one is Envolve Vision, a local company that provides vision benefits for a health care firm. Getting the right office tenants will be the key to the success of the development. The project is not simply bringing life to a moribund mill; it has the potential to lure young college graduates back to Rocky Mount and to bring jobs and growth to the city’s many low-income residents—to help revive the entire town. “We’ve been hit really hard,” said Reuben Blackwell, a member of the Rocky Mount City Council. “We’ve had a struggling narrative regarding what our city was about.
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