ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) – Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson talked about the highs and the lows Monday.

“It is expected that the event center will generate at least $15 million in economy impact before the year is over,” he said.

Roberson delivered the State of the City Monday afternoon.

“So, we’re desperately in need of additional housing. Regionally, over 600 new homes have been built in 2021 in an effort to meet the demand,” he said.

Roberson also addressed what’s next with its ties with QVC after a massive fire destroyed most of the distribution facility back in December. It left thousands without jobs. 

However, the company helped with a job fair in January to help get people back to work.

The latest U.S. Bureau of Labor numbers from February show Rocky Mount’s unemployment rate at 6.2 percent, nearly double the state’s numbers from March.

Although QVC decided not to rebuild, Roberson said QVC is still committed to the community.

“Moving forward there’s every indication there are a lot, a lot, a lot (of) interested parties on the QVC side,” he said. Although damage, it’s built ready with the needed infrastructure already in place.”

As for downtown Rocky Mount, Roberson said several businesses have opened downtown with more on the way. 

“So, when I came initially, there was not much,” Zabdiel Dewar said, a Rocky Mount restaurant owner. “But over the years you realize there are more people who are seeing the importance of a downtown. I think within a couple of years downtown is going to be booming just like any big city.”

Dewar is the owner of D Chill Spot restaurant. He moved his restaurant over to downtown in August.

“We are just off (Interstate) 95. There’s 95 right there. There’s (U.S.) 64 right there,” Dewar said. “I have a lot of customers who will be traveling from upstate going down south. The more that is invested in downtown the more that the economy of Nash and Edgecombe will benefit from.”

Although it was a violent weekend in Rocky Mount, Roberson said violent crime is down in the area by more than 18 percent over the past year. He did however acknowledge the two young children killed in Tarboro.