Rural Transformation Grants

Program Update - as of June 22, 2022:

  • The first application cycle for the Rural Transformation Grant Fund is now closed, but we're publishing information about the program for reference purposes.
  • The first round of grant awards was announced on June 16 (Press Release with the list of awardees)
  • A second round of funding will open for applications later this fall (expected September 2022)

The Rural Transformation Grant Fund provides local governments with grants and expert guidance to improve economic vitality and overcome the unique challenges many rural communities face.

Open to local governments in the state's Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, as well as qualified census tracts in Tier 3 counties, you may review a map with eligible areas here.

Rural Transformation Grants can support:

  • Main Street and downtown investment and revitalization efforts;
  • Initiatives that help create resilient neighborhoods;
  • Community enhancements that spur economic growth;
  • Professional development and education programs to build local government capacity

The Fund, created by the North Carolina General Assembly in Session Law 2021-180 (S.105), has an available pool of $48 million for grantmaking in the four categories described below.

As North Carolina recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and applies lessons from the public health emergency to improve community resiliency, the Rural Transformation Grant Fund offers a new resource to local government leaders as they guide their communities toward a brighter future.

Review the program's guidelines here.

To access the Rural Transformation Grant application,
visit the Rural Economic Development Division’s Rural Connect Portal.

First time visitors to the portal will need to register as a new user.


For more information, contact:

Hazel Edmond
Rural Engagement & Investment Program Director

Categories | Rural Transformation Grants

Downtown Revitalization

Downtown Revitalization

Support downtown revitalization and economic development initiatives that are intended to help local governments grow and leverage their Main Street and downtown districts as assets for economic growth, economic development, and prosperity.

  • Public Improvements
  • Mixed-use Downtown Development
  • Small Business Improvements Training and Technical Assistance
  • Planning
  • Industry Improvements
Resilient Neighborhoods

Resilient Neighborhoods

To create resilient neighborhoods through community development, neighborhood revitalization, economic investments, and quality of life improvements.

  • Affordable Permanent Housing
  • Neighborhood Improvements and Facilities
  • Small Business Assistance
  • Nutritional and Healthy Initiatives
  • Mixed-use Development
Community Enhancements for Economic Growth

Community Enhancements for Economic Growth

Provide grants to local governments in rural and distressed communities to support the acquisition of land and buildings, the preparation/development of neighborhood properties and business sites, and the removal of structural and physical barriers for the purpose of enhancing community growth and economic development opportunities.

For grants awarded through this program, there must be a reasonable expectation that funding will yield private sector investment and job creation, community development projects, or neighborhood revitalization.

  • Property Acquisition
  • Secure Abandoned Properties
  • Environmental Remediation
  • Demolition Paired with Neighborhood Revitalization
  • Lot Cleaning and Greening
Rural Community Capacity Building

Rural Community Capacity Building

The Rural Community Capacity (RC2) category is a university-based collaborative that will provide educational programming, technical assistance, capacity building, economic development consultation, and focused guidance to local governments in rural and distressed communities.

This program will include an on-campus and virtual curriculum, community level engagement, and targeted training programs that increase local government efficiencies, build capacity, and help position communities for economic growth and prosperity. Communities that successfully complete the RC2 university-based campus curriculum, participate in the Commerce rural planning process, and develop a local economic development strategic plan will be eligible to apply for Community Implementation Grants offered by the Rural Economic Development Division.

RC2 will begin as a pilot initiative in partnership with the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University.

Capacity Building Training

  • University-based curriculum
  • Community-level Engagement, Training, and Consultation
  • Development of Strategic Partnerships

Capacity Building Implementation

  • Project Design Services
  • Feasibility and Market Analysis
  • Streetscapes and Wayfinding