Residents of Rocky Mount could not have missed the huge sign announcing the craft brewing incubator on the warehouse on Falls Road at the Rocky Mount Mills.
That warehouse has the potential of becoming the site of a brand new industry in Rocky Mount. Nash Community College, which has a history of training people for jobs in the Twin Counties, has joined with the Rocky Mount Brew Mill Partnership to create a place where entrepreneurs will have a start in crafting beer. Instead of buying expensive equipment, microbrewers will be able to lease equipment on the site until they are ready to start their own breweries. They will be operating in a learning environment in which they master techniques of fermentation, bottling or canning their product and marketing. There will be a taproom where they can sell their products on site and kiosks for food vendors.
Mike Latham, associate vice president for curriculum and chief program officer at Nash Community College, spoke to the Kiwanis Club of Rocky Mount on July 29 about the important role the college will have in the Rocky Mount Brew Mill Partnership. In the fall, NCC will launch a new degree program, Brewing, Distillation, and Fermentation, which will prepare participants to take advantage of this opportunity. In addition to courses in math and science, there will be courses in production, maintenance and entrepreneurship.
Before the Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages was passed in 1920, most beer was produced by small local breweries. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, the giant companies took over the production of beer. This started to change in the 1970s with the rebirth of small breweries. Craft brewing is taking off in North Carolina, positioning the state in the forefront of the movement. European brewers have expressed interest in the Rocky Mount model, saying that this concept is unique and could attract brewers from around the world. It will be exciting to watch the development of this visionary project that could mean so much for Rocky Mount.
Latham, a native of Plymouth, received a bachelor’s degree in history from Campbell University and a master’s in history from UNC-Greensboro. He came to Nash Community College in 1993 and has served as Humanities and Social Sciences Department chairman, associate dean of transfer programs, dean of instruction and since July 1, associate vice president for curriculum and chief program officer. Latham also serves as the chairman of the Rocky Mount Historic Preservation Commission.