The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 11 grant requests to local governments totaling $4,478,850, Governor Roy Cooper announced. The requests include commitments to create a total of 383 jobs, 173 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $91 million in private investment.
"We've been making transformational investments in infrastructure across rural North Carolina, including high speed internet and water systems and these grants will help existing rural businesses while attracting new companies to our rural areas,” said Governor Cooper.
The RIA is supported by the rural economic development team at the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 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 support a variety of activities, including infrastructure development, building renovation, expansion and demolition, and site improvements.
“Each investment made in a rural community benefits the entire state,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Today’s newest infrastructure improvements will stimulate growth while enhancing the economic competitiveness, opportunities, and resilience that rural North Carolina needs to succeed.”
The RIA approved eight grant requests under the state’s Building Reuse Program in two categories:
Vacant Building Category
- Beaufort County: A $200,000 grant will support the reuse of a 15,510-square-foot building in Washington. The building will be occupied by Elite Truck Boxes, LLC, an online retailer of truck boxes and various automotive accessories. The company expects to create 31 jobs and invest $1,914,000 in the project.
- Cherokee County: A $62,500 grant will support the reuse of a 2,976-square-foot building in Murphy, as the future home of Valley River Dental. Formerly known as Mimms Family Dentistry, Valley River Dental offers a broad range of services and dental solutions. The practice plans to create five jobs and invest $1,137,500 in the project.
- Guilford County: A $100,000 grant will support the reuse of a 21,400-square-foot building in High Point. Specializing in off-grid energy solutions, SELS USA, LLC, will use the building to develop products such as streetlights and transit lights. The company is set to create 13 jobs and invest $821,141 in the project.
- Granville County: A $500,000 grant will support the reuse of a 122,085-square-foot building in Oxford. The building will be used by Auction Direct USA, LLC, which reconditions and sells vehicles to wholesale customers. The company expects to create 173 jobs and invest $2.9 million in the overall project, with $1,766,000 tied to this grant.
Existing Business Building Category
- Burke County: A $200,000 grant will support the renovation of an 80,000-square-foot building in Morganton. Maynard Electric Company, a full service commercial and industrial electric company, currently uses the building. The company expects to create 25 new jobs with an accompanying private investment of $472,942.
- Lenoir County: A $500,000 grant will support the renovation of a 254,534-square-foot building in Kinston. The building is occupied by West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc., a manufacturer of contaminant solutions that employs over 8,300 employees worldwide. This project is expected to create 72 jobs at this site, with an investment of $73.5 million by the company.
- Moore County: A $160,000 grant will support the renovation of a 55,000-square-foot building in Robbins. The building’s occupant, Carolina Growler, Inc., designs and manufactures special purpose vehicles. The company plans to create 40 new jobs and invest $238,844 in the project.
- Robeson County: A $100,000 grant will support the renovation of a 370,000-square-foot building in Lumberton. The building is utilized by Bast Fibre Technologies, a cleantech engineering firm that manufactures specialty fibers. The company plans to create 10 jobs and invest $3,923,213 alongside the grant.
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 federally funded Community Development Block Grant program:
- Alexander County: A $222,375 grant will assist the County with a project that supports an expansion by Paragon Films, Inc., a leading stretch film manufacturing company. The project involves the construction of a 70,000-square-foot warehouse and conversion of existing warehouse space to manufacturing space. Infrastructure improvements include the construction of a 763-foot-long rail spur to accommodate increased product demand. This project is expected to create 14 jobs and attract $7,990,000 in private investment.
The Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) 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:
- City of Gastonia (Gaston County): A $2,272,275 grant will assist the City with the expansion of sewer capacity at the 300+-acre Apple Creek Corporate Center, supporting the growth of businesses currently at the corporate park, as well as future economic development.
- Vance County: An additional $161,700 will be added to the County’s existing approved funding to support the County’s development of sewer and road infrastructure at Henderson-Vance Industrial Park.
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.