Raleigh, N.C.

The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) approved 14 grant requests totaling $4,528,942, N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland announced today. The requests include commitments to create a total of 94 new jobs. Secretary Copeland previously announced an additional 158 new jobs associated with these grants. The public investment in these projects is attracting $46 million in private investment.

“The Rural Infrastructure Authority’s grants create jobs and help communities become better positioned for economic growth,” said Secretary Copeland. “These investments improve infrastructure and support projects that will make our rural communities even more attractive to businesses and the employees they want to recruit and retain.”

A team of rural economic development specialists at the N.C. Department of Commerce support the Authority’s work. Authority members review and approve funding requests from local communities. Funding comes from a variety of specialized grant and loan programs offered and managed by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division, led by Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Napoleon Wallace. Grants can support a variety of activities, including infrastructure development, building renovation, expansion and demolition, and site improvements.

“The Rural Division was established to improve the economic wellbeing and quality of life of North Carolinians, particularly those in rural areas,” said Assistant Secretary Wallace. “Today’s grants demonstrate the many tools we have to make our rural communities attractive to business.”

Included in the grants awarded today, the RIA approved one request under the state’s Industrial Development Fund - Utility Account program:

  • Surry County: A $493,480 grant to upgrade sewer infrastructure in support of maintaining 134 positions at Weyerhaeuser Company. The company’s current wastewater system needs upgrading, and the company needs to connect to a municipal water system. The project will also benefit from $2.5 million in private investment.

The Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account provides grants to local governments located in the 80 most economically distressed counties of the state, which are classified as either Tier 1 or Tier 2. Funds may be used for publicly owned infrastructure projects that are reasonably expected to result in new job creation. The IDF – Utility Account is funded through a process tied to the state’s signature Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program. When JDIG-awarded companies choose to locate or expand in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 county, a portion of that JDIG award is channeled into the Utility Account.

The RIA approved two request under the state’s Economic Infrastructure program:

  • Jackson County: A $50,000 grant to assist with the development of seven acres of undeveloped land bisected by the Tuckasegee River in Dillsboro. WNC Outdoor Development, LLC will construct an outdoor river park and adventure attraction to include rafting, tubing, fly fishing, onsite accommodations and dining. The improvements in this grant will include public sewer and water infrastructure. The award includes 10 jobs. The project will bring $1.35 million in private investment.
  • City of Marion (McDowell County): A $60,000 grant to support the development of a 30-acre site near I-40 in Marion to accommodate construction of a 70-room Holiday Inn Express by Sahas Hospitality, LLC. The developer also plans for additional restaurant and retail development on this site. The project includes 12 jobs and will bring $7.6 million in private investment.

The Economic Infrastructure Program provides grants to local governments to fund infrastructure projects that will lead to job creation. The program gives priority to jurisdictions in the 80 most economically distressed counties (Tiers 1 and 2) and helps build water and sewer lines, wastewater treatment plants, natural gas lines, public broadband infrastructure, roadways, rail spurs, and other infrastructure allowed under program guidelines.

The RIA approved five grants under the state’s federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - Economic Development program:

  • Alexander County: A $740,000 grant to support the reuse of a vacant 50,000-square-foot shell building constructed in 2016 and located in the Alexander Industrial Park. Borealis Compounds is a leading supplier of innovative polyolefin plastic materials for engineering applications in the automotive industry. The company has also received a grant from the One North Carolina Fund. Thirty-seven jobs are tied to the grant, and the public investment will bring $15 million in private investment.
  • City of Lexington (Davidson County): A $240,000 grant to support the reuse of a 19,400-square-foot industrial building that has been vacant for 11 years. Goose and the Monkey will operate a brewery. The public investment will support the creation of 12 jobs and bring $1.2 million in private investment.
  • City of Hendersonville (Henderson County): A $500,000 grant to support renovating the Grey Hosiery mill built in 1915. The location will house a boutique hotel called The Grey owned and operated by Belmont Sayre, LLC. The building has been vacant for more than 20 years. The project includes façade improvements, compliance, electrical and plumbing replacements and structural improvements. The public investment will be supported by more than $11.1 million in private sector funds.
  • Town of Ayden (Pitt County): A $500,000 grant to renovate a downtown two-story building built in 1915 to house Quilt Lizzy, which provides quilting education, supply and equipment rental. The renovation will allow the owner to expand from Warrenton to Ayden.
  • City of Reidsville (Rockingham County): A $275,000 grant to renovate a three-story building built in 1910 which historically served as a bank and grocery store. The building has been vacant for more than 20 years and will now house Lucky City Brewing Cooperative. The public investment will be supported by $315,000 in private sector funds.

The Community Development Block Grant program is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program administered in part by N.C. Commerce. CDBG’s economic development funds are granted to local governments to enhance the vitality of communities by providing decent housing and suitable living environments and expanding economic opportunities.

The RIA approved five grants under the state’s Building Reuse Program in several categories:

Existing Building Category

  • McDowell County: A $195,462 grant to support the renovation of a 500,000-square-foot building on East Main Street in Old Fort which houses Ethan Allen. Ethan Allen manufactures high-end home furnishings and has seven facilities in N.C. and approximately 300 design centers in the U.S. and abroad. The project will create 16 jobs.
  • Northampton County: A $210,000 grant to support the renovation of a 26,650-square-foot building in Severn, constructed in 1986. Northampton Peanut Company, a peanut processor with a variety of products has operated in Severn since the 1940’s. The renovation will create 21 jobs and will be supported by $4.9 million in private investment.
  • Robeson County: A $340,000 grant to support the expansion of three buildings in Lumberton that total 45,400 square feet. Absolute Bus, which sells and manufactures shuttle vehicles, will relocate the company’s manufacturing facility from Indiana to Robeson County adding 24,000 square feet to their existing facility. The project will create 34 jobs.

Vacant Building Category

  • Bertie County: A $25,000 grant to support the reuse of a 3,500-square-foot building in Windsor that has stood vacant for 12 years. Abrams, a restaurant and catering establishment will add the location to its six others in North Carolina, creating five new jobs and investing $410,300.
  • Wayne County: A $450,000 grant to support the reuse of a nearly 18,000-square-foot building in Goldsboro. The building was constructed in 1994 and has been vacant for three years. Stormberg Foods, a South African company, produces dried protein meat products and will occupy the building, setting up a similar scale business in the U.S. The company will use local suppliers for their products.

Rural Healthcare Category

  • Town of Scotland Neck (Halifax County): A $450,000 grant to support the construction of a 24,000-square-foot care facility. Scotland House Assisted Living will be a new 60-bed assisted living and memory care facility. The parent company, Affinity Living Group, is headquartered in Hickory with 73 facilities throughout N.C. The project will bring 45 jobs and more than $5.6 million from the private sector.

The Building Reuse Program provides grants to local governments to renovate vacant buildings, renovate and/or expand buildings occupied by existing North Carolina companies, and renovate, expand or construct health care facilities that will lead to the creation of new jobs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties and in rural Census tracts of Tier 3 counties.

In addition to reviewing and approving funding requests, the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority formulates policies and priorities for grant and loan programs administered by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development team. Its 15 voting members are appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tem. The North Carolina Secretary of Commerce serves as a non-voting member of the Authority.

For additional information about N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division, visit nccommerce.com/rd.

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