GoldenLEAF Infrastructure Grants

The Golden LEAF Foundation, a North Carolina grant-making organization, will consider applications to assist eligible state, regional and local economic development entities with grants to support permissible activities in projects in which a company will commit to create a specific number of full time jobs in a tobacco-dependent or economically distressed area. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Golden LEAF staff to discuss the potential projects and conditions that may be applicable prior to submitting an application.

Economic Catalyst Program Guidelines:

Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Applications in this program must be for projects that will lead to job creation by a company that will commit to create the jobs if Golden LEAF provides a grant for the project.

Competitive applications will include information showing that the expected job creation is AT RISK without Golden LEAF support. An applicant can demonstrate that a project is AT RISK by identifying a funding gap that exists that would significantly impair the applicant’s ability to attract the anticipated jobs if Golden LEAF does not make a grant for the project.

Examples of other factors that may be considered to determine whether a project is AT RISK without Golden LEAF support include:

  • evidence of urgency for financial assistance necessary to facilitate job creation;
  • whether local governments have provided support for the project at levels that are appropriate in light of available resources. (Golden LEAF funds will not be available to satisfy shortfalls resulting from local policies limiting local support for a project.); and
  • whether the applicant has secured or attempted to secure funding for the project from other sources such as the State of North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, EDA, ARC, and others.

Proposals for Economic Catalyst grants should be coordinated with the other economic development entities, including:

  • North Carolina Department of Commerce,
  • the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and
  • local and regional economic development organizations.

Grants are available only for projects that include a specific company’s commitment to create full-time jobs in NC. Full-time jobs are defined as jobs that provide 1,600 hours or more per year of work. Companies must provide at least 50% of the cost of employee-only health insurance for full-time employees.

The Golden LEAF Foundation will consider at least the following factors when determining whether to fund a project and at what level:

  • the economic distress of the community in which the jobs would be created,
  • the number of jobs to be created,
  • the quality of jobs to be created, measured by factors including wages paid and skill levels involved.

Examples of other factors Golden LEAF may consider when determining the amount and availability of funding for a project include:

  • the economic impact of project, including costs and benefits to the state;
  • the strategic importance of the project to the state, region, or community;
  • the importance of the industry to the state, region, and community;
  • the quality and viability of the company that will create the jobs assessed by factors including how long the company has been in operation and its financial success;
  • the Golden LEAF grant will address needs that are directly related to job creation from the project;
  • there is competition for the project with a site outside North Carolina;
  • Golden LEAF support will also help avoid imminent job losses.

Economically distressed or tobacco-dependent communities that are located in high wealth counties may make the case for support because the project will be located in a low-wealth area or an area with negative trends in employment, income, poverty, or similar factors.

Applicants must identify specific charitable, educational, or scientific uses for Golden LEAF funds, as defined by Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, that are directly related to the project. Golden LEAF may require the applicant to demonstrate that the company that will commit to create the promised jobs is obligated to repay a pro rata amount of the grant if there are job creation shortfalls. Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Funding to help with the delivery of training programs offered by eligible entities, typically the local community college.
    • Golden LEAF funds are usually used for acquisition of training equipment or construction/renovation of space needed to provide the training.
    • Training must be available to the public and be for transferable skills.
    • Golden LEAF funds may be used in conjunction with, but not to displace training funds available through other sources such as the NC Community College System.
    • When Golden LEAF funds are used for costs associated with job training, Golden LEAF will typically require evidence of an inducement agreement demonstrating that the company is obligated to meet the job creation projections and wage goals, and providing appropriate consequences should the company fail to satisfy its obligations; however, Golden LEAF usually does not require a clawback specifically for the Golden LEAF grant funds.
  • Funding for costs associated with public infrastructure improvements, such as water and sewer, that are needed for the project.
    • Golden LEAF funds may not be used for construction of infrastructure on private property or for privately owned infrastructure;
    • When Golden LEAF funds are used for infrastructure costs, Golden LEAF will typically require evidence of an inducement agreement demonstrating that the company is obligated to meet the job creation projections and wage goals, and providing appropriate consequences should the company fail to satisfy its obligations; however, Golden LEAF usually does not require a clawback specifically for the Golden LEAF grant funds.
  • Funds for purchase of equipment to be owned by the grantee and leased to the business at a rate that allows recovery of the full cost of the equipment plus interest at the IRS-determined Applicable Federal Rate over the life of the lease.
    • Golden LEAF will approve the terms of the lease for the equipment.
    • In projects such as these, Golden LEAF will typically require the business to pay an increased lease rate as a penalty if the company fails to create the promised jobs.

Economic Catalyst proposals may be submitted throughout the year and will be presented to the Golden LEAF Foundation Board at the next regularly scheduled meeting that is not less than six weeks after submission of the completed proposal. The proposal may be submitted at an earlier Board meeting if Golden LEAF is able to complete its review of the proposal prior to the meeting. Applicants should inform Golden LEAF if their projects are urgent and should specifically identify the reason for the urgency.

Golden LEAF is subject to North Carolina’s Open Meetings laws and the North Carolina Public Records Act. Please follow the link below for more details regarding how those laws affect Golden LEAF and its review of certain economic development projects and the circumstances under information may be kept confidential.

How to Apply

Only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and governmental entities may apply.

  • Review the Economic Catalyst priorities.
  • Complete the application form and submit the attachments listed on the form.
  • If you have already started an application, you can access it by clicking here.

Open Door Policy

Public Records Act