The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) approved 23 grant requests totaling $17,021,540, N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland announced today. The requests include commitments to create a total of 425 jobs, 186 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract $117.6 million in private investment. 

“As Governor Cooper has emphasized in his ‘Hometown Strong’ initiative, improving infrastructure is critical to the economic success of rural North Carolina communities,” said Secretary Copeland. “Whether they help renovate a building or extend water and sewer lines, the newest grants approved by the Rural Infrastructure Authority will support economic development and job creation across the state.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s team of rural economic development professionals supports 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 Deputy Secretary for Rural Economic Development and Workforce Solutions Napoleon Wallace and Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Kenny Flowers. Grants can support a variety of activities, including infrastructure development, building renovation, expansion and demolition, and site improvements.

“The Rural Economic Development Division at Commerce and the Rural Infrastructure Authority board are pleased to be able to partner with these communities to help them attract business,” said Assistant Secretary Flowers. “The projects approved today will result in hundreds of new job opportunities.”

The RIA approved 10 grants under the state’s Building Reuse Program in two categories:

Existing Building Category

  • Caldwell County: A $172,500 grant will support the renovation of a 110,717-square-foot building in Lenoir for use by Chase Corporation, which manufactures protective materials that include industrial coatings, tapes, adhesives and sealants. The company will create 25 jobs and invest another $172,500 with this project.
  • Catawba County: A $162,000 grant will support Bradington-Young’s expansion of its 90,000-square-foot building in Hickory. The company is a manufacturer of high-end leather upholstery. Through this project, the company plans to add 75,000 square feet to its existing property while adding 13 jobs and investing $4,077,052. 
  • McDowell County: A $250,000 grant will support the renovation of a 220,000-square-foot building in Marion. Resistoflex, a manufacturer of corrosion-resistant plastic lined pipe, fittings and chemical hoses, will expand operations at the facility, adding 20 jobs and investing $3,198,729. 
  • Mitchell County: A $112,000 grant will help Bombardier Recreational Products renovate an 85,000-square-foot building in Spruce Pine, where the company produces boat engine parts. The project will create 10 jobs and attract $4,888,000 in private investment. 
  • Wilkes County: A $125,000 grant will support the expansion of a 13,000-square-foot building in Wilkesboro by Church & Church Lumber. The company, which provides forest products used in furniture and other industries, plans to add 12,000 square feet to its existing facility. The project will create 10 jobs and attract $446,751 in private investment.

Vacant Building Category

  • City of Graham (Alamance County): A $60,000 grant will support the renovation of an 8,000-square-foot building in Graham. Steve's Garden Market and Butchery, an independent butchery, grocery and produce wholesaler, will occupy the building, creating 12 jobs and investing $418,838.
  • Columbus County: A $264,000 grant will help renovate a 59,000-square-foot building in Whiteville. Southern Belle Organics, an organic berry grower and processor of fresh and frozen strawberries, blackberries and blueberries, plans to relocate some of its processing operations to this facility. The project will create 33 jobs and attract $674,043 in private investment.
  • Graham County: A $370,000 grant will support the renovation of a 500,000-square-foot building in Robbinsville. American Timber Group, a newly-formed company that will produce plywood sheets for distribution in the furniture and flooring industries, will create 74 jobs and invest $2,346,327 at this facility.
  • Lincoln County: A $125,000 grant will support the renovation of a 19,456-square-foot building in Lincolnton. Texture Plus, which manufactures interlocking wall panels, plans to relocate its entire operation from New York to the facility, creating 38 jobs and investing $871,021.
  • Yancey County: A $50,000 grant will help renovate a 1,200-square-foot building in Burnsville. Mercy Urgent Care will locate in the space and offer medical care for non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries. The project will create four jobs and attract $399,822 in private investment.

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.

The RIA approved two requests under the state’s Industrial Development Fund - Utility Account program:

  • Cumberland County: A $375,000 grant will provide natural gas service to support the needs of DHL Supply Chain and Campbell Soup Company, which have selected Fayetteville as the site for a distribution center. DHL and Campbell plan to construct a 740,000-square-foot warehouse facility at the location, creating 140 jobs and investing $44.6 million.
  • Scotland County: A $575,000 grant will provide water infrastructure to support Edwards Wood Products as the company expands its sawmill operations in Scotland County. Overall, the project will create 46 jobs and attract almost $55.5 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 also approved 10 requests under the Rural ReadySites program, administered by the Department of Commerce in partnership with the Rural Infrastructure Authority. The Rural ReadySites program was funded in part by the N.C. General Assembly and helps rural communities prepare prospective sites for industrial development. The program is investing more than $14 million in public infrastructure construction and improvements for sites that have a strong potential to attract employers, create jobs and strengthen the local, regional and state economy.

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

  • City of Conover (Catawba County): A $52,875 grant will support the demolition of a vacant building located at a pivotal intersection in the center of downtown Conover. The property will support potential office, retail and restaurant business opportunities. 

The Economic Infrastructure Program provides grants to local governments to fund infrastructure projects that will lead to job creation. With priority given to jurisdictions in the 80 most economically distressed counties, the program 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.

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 www.nccommerce.com/rd.

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