ROCKY MOUNT — Candice Moore appears to have quite a place to work in what is going to be the future state Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters along North Church Street just off U.S. 64.
The exterior of her cubicle is replete with inspirational and uplifting messages that emphasize enjoying life, not sweating the small stuff. And she likes that the building is close to restaurants and shopping around the Rocky Mount Sports Complex and Golden East Crossing mall.
“I like that everything is pretty much convenient as far as I can cross the street and go to the track and walk if I want to,” she said during a recent tour of the building.
“There’s a little bit more things to do in this area than it was in Raleigh,” Moore said. “I do miss Raleigh, but I am adjusting.”
Moore, who trains new employees to work in vehicle services, moved to the former Hardee’s campus at the start of September. She is part of the migration of about 450 workers from the DMV’s old headquarters in Raleigh.
The complex was vacant when the state began searching for a new DMV headquarters in 2016. Gov. Roy Cooper signed 15-year lease for it in December 2019, sealing the deal on what had been the most competitive of 10 site proposals.
The future DMV campus was built as the corporate headquarters for the fast-food chain and was later occupied by Centura Bank, RBC Bank and PNC Bank — a well-known landmark to travelers on U.S. 64.
The DMV’s sphere of operations is immense, from overseeing the processing of vehicle registrations, driver licenses, vehicle safety and emissions inspections to halting vehicle theft and identity fraud.
Work to began to equip the facility and move employees began in February and the plan is to have the relocation complete by Dec. 19, with five of six buildings to be in use.
Moore and her husband live in the Raleigh area and she has been making the drive from home to work in Rocky Mount. She said she was not happy when she found out she would have to commute but learned to cope with it. “And it wasn’t as bad as what I was dreading initially,” she said.
Moore’s husband works in Raleigh for the State Employees’ Credit Union. In the future, the couple will move to Zebulon, making for a shorter drive.
“We’re doing the best we can to work everything out,” said Moore, who also is the mother of two young children. “I don’t mind sticking around and working here for a little bit longer.”
Moore works in an office just behind the six-story main building.
Director of Vehicle Services Portia Manley, who lives in Cary, said she and other employees also can telework. She is helping to head up the transition and said she is fond of the new location. “Well, I love it because it’s my project.”
“The project has been smooth going, even during the COVID,” Manley said. “It’s on track.
“The Rocky Mount community welcomed us,” she said. “We are partners with a lot of the community people within the community, assisting us with our employment opportunities here in the Rocky Mount area and surrounding counties.
“So it’s a great location,” Manley said.
DMV spokesman Steve Abbott said 495 permanent positions will be vacating the Raleigh site at 1100 New Bern Ave. All will be moving to Rocky Mount except for about 50 Raleigh window employees who will be moving to a new Raleigh-based office by spring 2021.
Current staff members may commute or move, and the DMV is hiring for temporary and permanent positions in the Rocky Mount, he said. The move has local officials buzzing.
Norris Tolson, a former top state official who is now head of the Carolinas Gateway Partnership was passing on the phone with The Telegram newspaper when he first saw the DMV sign in place.
“Boy, that’s beautiful,” Tolson said. “Wow.”
Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson was elated to know there will be some job opportunities for local residents.
“And to my knowledge, this is the only state division that’s not located in Raleigh proper,” Roberson said. “And, so, my hope is — and my belief is — that it will have such a positive experience that hopefully, maybe some other divisions might could move to Rocky Mount.”
Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Farris said he is excited to see lights on in the buildings at the future DMV campus and cars in the parking lot.
“Where they are going to work now is light years ahead of what they were in just a few weeks ago,” he said.