Business loss impacts Rockingham County; school closures discussion continues

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- The Rockingham County School System says something needs to change. It needs to save money and not enough students are going to its schools. That’s why the system is talking about the possibility of closing three schools by the 2018 school year. Closing Dillard, Draper and/or South End Elementary is being discussed.

On Tuesday, the final redistricting meeting was held.

We spoke with Jan Critz, the economic director for Rockingham County, about why there are less students in the County. She said it is not just the schools, the entire population has decreased.

"The impact of losing a large employer or even a middle-size employer…not only do you lose the employees and the multiplier of that, you lose children in the school system, you lose leaders in the civic and church organizations,” Critz said. “There’s an absence. It’s missed.”

About 250 people will be out of a job this summer because two businesses in Reidsville are closing, including Ball Corporation. About 500 people lost their jobs when MillerCoors closed last year. Even before that, a comparison of the 2010 to 2016 census shows the population decreased by about 2,000 people.

Critz says her team is working to bring businesses into the county. Right now, she says the most success is start-ups and small shops and restaurants.

“Industries are different now, more automated, higher tech skilled,” Critz said.

Crtiz said a contract to build an NTE Energy power plant was finalized Monday night, which will create around 300 construction jobs for the next three years.

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