Raleigh, N.C.

The Rural Transformation Grant Fund, a new source of support for rural economic development in North Carolina, is now accepting applications from local governments seeking to overcome challenges that limit their economic competitiveness.  The North Carolina Department of Commerce and its Rural Economic Development Division will administer the $48 million grant fund.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we must help our rural communities become stronger, vibrant, and resilient places to live and work,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “This new fund will supply both grants and expertise to help transform and expand our rural economies.”

The new grant fund, the centerpiece of a broader Rural Engagement and Investment Program from Commerce, will address a wide variety of needs, from revitalizing downtown districts, building the capacity of local government staffs, revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering small business recovery, and generally supporting economic growth initiatives.

The Rural Transformation Grant Fund will award grants in four categories:

  • The Downtown Revitalization category will support downtown development initiatives that help grow and leverage a community’s commercial core into an asset for economic growth and prosperity.
  • The Resilient Neighborhoods category will offer grants focused on community development and quality of life improvements, such as eliminating food deserts, creating healthy living initiatives, and increasing access to affordable housing options, among other initiatives.
  • The Community Enhancements for Economic Growth category will provide grants to local governments to smooth the way for economic development opportunities, such as the acquisition of land and buildings, the preparation of business sites, and the removal of structural and physical barriers that may be limiting development.
  • The Rural Community Capacity (RC2) category will provide educational programming, technical assistance, and focused guidance to local government staff in rural and distressed communities.  RC2 will begin as a pilot initiative in partnership with Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business.

“Commerce’s rural team has focused for many years on helping communities make the necessary preparations that lead to economic growth,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders.  “Now, with the Rural Transformation Grant Fund in place, we can tap additional resources to turbocharge the approaches we know work well and that can take rural North Carolina to the next level of prosperity.”

More information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, including access to the online application, is available at nccommerce.com/transform.

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