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Rockdale still hopeful for economic boom after plant closes, deal fizzles

Rockdale still hopeful for economic boom after plant closes, deal fizzles
Posted at 11:14 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-13 00:14:46-04

ROCKDALE, TX — The community of Rockdale, once booming economically, had a drastic change when the Alcoa Coal Plant closed more than a decade ago. However, the community has gained some hope when the company, Bitmain, announced their purchase of the coal plant and promised hundreds of jobs.

"My grandparents moved here because of Alcoa along with a lot of people from surrounding towns because it brought a lot of money," reminisced Charles Miles, a native of Rockdale.

Years ago, the town of Rockdale was booming economically thanks to hundreds of job opportunities the Alcoa Coal Plant provided.

Miles has owned his barbershop for over a decade. Throughout his lifetime in the town, he says he has witnessed the impact the community had to overcome when Alcoa closed.

"Once it shut down, a lot of people had to move out. There are a lot of businesses that shut down and pretty much closed," said Miles.

The community regained hope when Bitmain, a bitcoin mining company, announced they were buying the Alcoa Plant and bringing back hundreds of jobs. However, the boom isn't as expected.

"[Bitmain] came to town, and we were expecting a boom going again, but it's not going as well as we expected. I don't know what is going on," said Miles.

The company was set to invest $500 million and provide nearly 400 jobs. In 2018, those plans took a turn when bitcoin started losing value. Bitmain postponed the opening of the facility to this summer, and only hired a fraction of the hundreds of people they were going to hire.

Miles says many in the town just stopped talking about it.

"It faded it out, less talk about it, and I don't think anyone got too excited. It didn't take a big effect but a lot of people were looking forward to it. We do need the income"

Regardless, the company is still giving hope to so many who are still waiting for an economic boom to take place once again.

"If [Bitmain] brings the income and jobs, it will help bring the community together again. It's a small town and we are close so it will do good"