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Rocky Mount to receive brewery boost

Posted March 3
Updated March 4

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— Rocky Mount—a city in need of jobs—is about to get an economic boost. The city boasts an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent, the highest ranking in North Carolina metro areas.

In a tired and run-down cotton mill, filled with memories of prosperous times past, Rocky Mount Mills is catching a second wind, tapping into the craft beer trend to get the spirit of entrepreneurship flowing.

Eric Ghiloni and his wife, Mary, are part owners of Koi Pond Brewing Company, located in a mill house. It’s the first business to open on the mill property that has been renamed the Rocky Mount Mills.

The mill will be known as a “craft beer incubator.” Its goal is to have brewers collaborate and share ideas with each other, but it will also be open to all kinds of business.

In a region that has been down in past years and seen jobs go dry, Eric Ghiloni said he’s convinced the mill will be an economic toast of the town.

“I think we’ve kind of hit the place where it’s a blank canvas; opportunities are abounding,” he said. “I think the young people are coming back and seeing an opportunity where they can be somebody, do something and leave a mark.”

Evan Covington Chavez, the development manager of Rocky Mount Mills, said people will be drawn to the mill because of its history across the state.

“These mills are across North Carolina, and they mean so much to people because they represent history,” he said.

Apartments, offices and stores in the factory—which will overlook the Tar River—are planned to be built by 2018.

“It will be totally transformed. It will become a more vibrant place like it was running,” Chavez said. “It will be a place people will want to come to enjoy a beer, enjoy some family time.”

More breweries are on tap, including one called Sweet Taters, which is set to open in April.

Jeff Tobias, a 35-year-old Rocky Mount native and vice president of SpringBoardNC – a co-working space that has its offices at the new brew mill – said the new addition will create intrigue for relocation to the Rocky Mount area.

“It’s really going to be—I think—the heartbeat of the city,” he said. “Rocky Mount has always been a thriving hub of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs have kind of defined this area for as long as it’s been Rocky Mount.”

Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRAL, purchased the mill in 2007.


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