A Wilson Times Co. publication · Serving Southern Nash County Since 1947

DMV headquarters could move to Rocky Mount

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The Twin Counties business and industrial recruiter believes the state Division of Motor Vehicles being shifted from Raleigh to the former Hardee’s Food Systems building would be quite a prestigious catch for the Rocky Mount area.

“To have a state agency put a major headquarters/location in Rocky Mount is a very, very positive thing for the community,” Carolinas Gateway Partnership President and CEO Norris Tolson said.

Tolson said if the Council of State selects the building, which is along North Church Street and just north of U.S. 64, “It will help our overall economic development activity, simply because it validates what we’ve been saying, that this is a great place to do business.”

Additionally, Tolson said the DMV would be a welcome addition of hundreds of jobs to the area.

“It’s a magnificent facility,” he said. “I mean, it’s very well-maintained and it’s beautifully done inside.”

The General Assembly required a process for relocating the DMV from the present headquarters along New Bern Avenue in downtown Raleigh because of health and safety issues beyond the state’s control.

State Department of Transportation officials believe the site in Rocky Mount meets the legal definition of the lowest competitive bid.

DMV wants the go-ahead from North Carolina’s leading officials to sign a slightly more than $2 million a year lease for 15 years, with the deal to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

The Council of State meeting is set to start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday in the Dobbs Building, located at 430 N. Salisbury St., which is the home of the N.C. Industrial Commission.

The property in Rocky Mount was purchased in 2016 for more than $1.3 million by Scott McLaughlin, president and chief executive officer of Strategic Connections in Raleigh, and his partner, David Hicks, a Zebulon businessman who’s from Nash County.

PNC Bank had been using the building after acquiring RBC Bank and before a PNC lease there had expired.

Tolson is a former legislator from Edgecombe County, as well as a former state commerce secretary, state revenue secretary and state transportation secretary.

Tolson noted when he was at the Department of Revenue, “I put in a very large call center, a collection call center, here in Rocky Mount. It’s still here.”

He also said state lawmakers have made clear in recent years they would like to move some of the “non-essential” state government services out of the Raleigh area to the rural areas.

“And this is a good one,” he said. “You can put DMV anywhere in North Carolina.”

He also noted the DMV, if shifted to Rocky Mount, would bring in lots of people doing business.

“When I ran DOT, it was one of the busiest pieces of our agency,” he said.