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Raleigh, N.C.

The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) approved 11 grant requests August 22 to local governments totaling $3,767,500, N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland announced. The requests include commitments to create a total of 245 jobs, 54 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $59 million in private investment.  

“Whether it’s through preparing buildings, water and sewer lines or other types of infrastructure, we are making smart investments in the future prosperity of North Carolina’s rural communities,” Secretary Copeland said. “These Rural Infrastructure Authority grants will support good jobs and a better quality of life across our state.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s team of rural economic development professionals supports the RIA’s work. RIA 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 Kenny Flowers. Grants can support a variety of activities, including infrastructure development, building renovation, expansion and demolition, and site improvements.

“Rural areas of North Carolina now have new resources to attract jobs and support business expansion, thanks to the projects approved today,” said Assistant Secretary Flowers. “The Rural Economic Development Division at Commerce and the Rural Infrastructure Authority work closely with rural community leaders to facilitate opportunities for economic success.”

The RIA approved eight grants under the state’s Building Reuse Program in three categories:

Vacant Building Category 

  • City of Burlington (Alamance County): A $240,000 grant will support the reuse of a 57,000-square-foot building. Flexaust, a manufacturer of flexible hose and ducting solutions for industrial and commercial applications, is locating its operations in the facility, creating an expected 28 jobs and investing $274,835.
  • Rowan County: A $300,000 grant will support the reuse of a 10,000-square-foot building in Salisbury, where Innospec Active Chemicals plans to locate. The company, a specialty chemicals manufacturer for a variety of products, expects to create 30 jobs and invest $439,107 in the project.
  • City of Wilson (Wilson County): A $200,000 grant will support the reuse of a 60,000-square-foot building, the former site of the historic Cherry Hotel. A development group, called The Cherry Hotel, LLC, plans to renovate the property to serve as a commercial chain hotel with 101 guest rooms, a ballroom, and 24-hour food service. The project is set to create 25 jobs, with a private investment of $19,601,719.
  • Yancey County: A $500,000 grant will support both the renovation of a vacant 15,477-square-foot building in Burnsville, where Altec Industries will locate, as well as a 5,000-square-foot expansion of a different building in Burnsville that is already occupied by the same company. Altec Industries provides products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs and contractor markets. Its products include aerial devices, digger derricks, truck bodies and related equipment. The company plans to create 50 jobs and invest $2,114,996 in this project.

Existing Building Category

  • Columbus County: A $175,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Whiteville that is occupied by Black's Tire Service, which offers a variety of tire brands and vehicle repair services. The company plans to add approximately 60,000 square feet of space to the existing facility. A total of 26 jobs are set to be created, along with an investment of $2.7 million, in the overall project, while 14 jobs and $1,497,969 worth of investment are tied to this grant.
  • City of Elizabeth City (Pasquotank County): A $500,000 grant will support the expansion of a building that is occupied by Hockmeyer Holdings, which manufactures custom equipment for the paint and coatings industry. The company plans to add 25,000 square feet to the existing facility. A total of 90 jobs will be created with an investment of $6 million in the overall project, while 40 jobs and an investment of $1,682,282 are tied to this grant.
  • Richmond County: A $200,000 grant will support the renovation of a 79,902-square-foot building in Rockingham that is occupied by Novipax, a manufacturer of absorbent pads and trays for the protein market. The company plans to create 19 jobs and invest $220,000 in this project.

Rural Health Category

  • Franklin County: A $250,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Louisburg on the campus of Maria Parham Franklin, part of Duke LifePoint Healthcare. Maria Parham Franklin will offer a 20-bed adult behavioral unit. This 14,000-square-foot expansion to the existing facility represents Phase II of Duke LifePoint's plan to reopen the hospital in this area. The project is expected to create 20 jobs and attract $21,783,500 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 one request under the state’s federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - Economic Development program:

  • Granville County: A $300,000 grant will support major renovations to a vacant, 9,000-square-foot building in downtown Oxford, including electrical work, plumbing, HVAC, sprinkler system, exhaust doors, ceiling, flooring, countertops, stairs, framing and painting. Strong Arm Baking Company, which was previously a home-based business producing breads and other baked goods, plans to create 19 jobs at the new location and invest $486,000 in the project.

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 provide grants to local governments for creating and retaining jobs. Project funding is based on the number of jobs to be created and the level of economic distress of applicant communities.

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

  • Town of Aurora (Beaufort County): A $750,000 grant will help the Town develop a 42-acre industrial park that targets businesses and contractors that work in the mining industry. The grant funding will support water, sewer and industrial access road infrastructure. Once completed, the Town anticipates at least $11 million of private investment will be made at the park.
  • McDowell County: A $352,500 grant will support the County in extending water and sewer infrastructure to help develop a 100-acre industrial park site in Marion, strategically located adjacent to Interstate 40. The County has also committed funds to the project and plans to construct a 50,000-square-foot shell building at the site.

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.

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 17 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 member of the Authority, ex officio.

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

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