National retailers eye Rocky Mount market


Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Several national retailers are looking to come to Rocky Mount within the next few years.

Alan Matthews, director of economic development for the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the city of Rocky Mount, said Jimmy John’s, Panera Bread, Starbucks, DQ Grill and Chill, Chipotle Mexican Grill and sporting goods retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods all have plans to expand in Rocky Mount.

Matthews couldn’t give a timetable on when the businesses are going to announce their expansion plans to come into the area, but said he is fairly certain Rocky Mount is on each of their lists.

“These retailers are all in expansion mode,” Matthews said. “They have an interest in Eastern North Carolina, specifically in Rocky Mount. We’re working to recruit them within the city, and they’re looking at sites within our community. Hopefully, within the next couple years, we will have all those businesses here.”

Matthews also said that Publix, a leading supermarket chain in the Southeast, has identified Rocky Mount as a target area to come into.

“Everyone knows that Publix is growing their presence across North Carolina and have pretty much saturated the major markets,” Matthews said. “I know they’re looking at some of the second-tier or mid-size markets, so we’re in the hunt for them. That’s something that I would suspect would be about two years out.”

When recruiting retail businesses to come to the area, Matthews said, instead of just focusing on selling Rocky Mount, which has a population of around 56,000, he looks to convince companies that the city is able to draw consumers from a four-county hub of Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson and Halifax counties that consist of regional population of almost 300,000 people.

He acknowledged that Sam’s Club would’ve never come to the former site of Tarrytown Mall if its customer base would’ve only been just Rocky Mount. 

“I never talk about our population base because we’re really a regional market,” he said. “Even during a down economy, we never stopped creating the right environment for retail to continue to grow in Rocky Mount. We already have good strong investments from national retailers within our city, and we’re hoping to bring in more businesses that will also bring in more consumers from outside the community that’s going to bring their dollars to Rocky Mount.”