'Exciting': Rocky Mount prepares for a rare presidential visit

Joel Brown Image
Friday, June 9, 2023
Rocky Mount prepares for Biden visit
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President Joe Biden's visit to Rocky Mount is the city's first visit from a sitting president since 1964.

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WTVD) -- President Joe Biden is coming back to North Carolina on Friday in his official capacity as president -- but to be sure -- his reelection campaign is on the White House's mind.

High inflation has voters sour on the president's economic record. His trip to Rocky Mount is aimed at persuading voters that his policies are making the economy better in the long term.

Trains run through Rocky Mount almost non-stop. But presidents of the United States -- not so much.

"It's exciting when the president comes to any community, especially one the size of Rocky Mount. That's big," said David Farris, Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President.

RELATED: President and first lady set to visit Rocky Mount, Fort Liberty

Farris is not sure yet whether he is on the invitation list to Biden's visit to Nash Community College on Friday, but either way, he'll be watching what, he says, is Rocky Mount's first visit from a sitting president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

"And we're mostly excited because he's addressing what's near and dear to our heart. And that's workforce development," Farris said.

The president is launching a new leg of his Investing in America tour. The White House launched Invest.gov this week -- mapping out thousands of infrastructure projects and manufacturing investments the president says were spurred by his administration.

Biden will tour Nash Community College's Advanced Manufacturing Institute -- a new 96-hour course designed to get students ready for careers in manufacturing without a four-year degree.

It's the same kind of workforce development happening down U.S. 64 at the Opportunities Industrialization Center.

"OIC of Rocky Mount, our motto is helping people help themselves," said Cooper Blackwell, VP of Innovation at OIC. He and his team prepare students, who often start without a high school diploma, for skilled trades and potentially job placement at Rocky Mount's largest employers including Cummins and Pfizer.

"They absolutely want our students," Blackwell said. "Because our students know what's expected in the workforce before they even interview."

Telvin King will be graduating from his eight-week construction trade course at OIC on Friday. The same moment Biden makes his way to town.

"It's kind of a humbling moment," said King, an aspiring home builder and real estate developer who said he is grateful for the federal investments. "It kind of hits home. First of all, the president is coming to town. And he's coming to view this thing his administration is helping push. And I'm a part of that program."