Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina announced Feb. 17 that the state's Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 10 requests to several local governments totaling just over $2.1 million for building reuse and utility construction projects.
The requests include commitments to create a total of 349 jobs, 289 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $30.8 million in private investment, according to the state Department of Commerce (NCDOC).
"In order for North Carolina's economy to continue growing, we must prioritize and support our rural communities," Cooper said. "We know these communities need new jobs and more investments, and that's exactly what our grants accomplish."
The RIA is a 17-member board that operates as part of the NCDOC.
Funds Awarded in Three Categories
The board's Building Reuse Program provides grants to local governments for use in renovating vacant buildings, rehabilitate and/or expand buildings occupied by existing North Carolina companies, and upgrade, enlarge or construct health care facilities that will lead to the creation of new jobs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 communities, classified as those found in the 80 most economically distressed counties of the state, and in rural census tracts of Tier 3 counties.
The RIA approved six grant requests under the Building Reuse Program in three categories:
Vacant Building Category
- The Caldwell County town of Lenoir, which is set to receive a $400,000 Building Reuse grant to renovate an 800,000-sq.-ft. building for Grand Manor Furniture, serving as a new location for the company. Grand Manor, a vertically integrated manufacturer specializing in the leisure and hospitality seating market, will invest $671,225 into the project that is expected to create 50 jobs.
- Wayne County will receive $200,000 to rehab a 152,000-sq.-ft. building in Goldsboro for the Mount Olive Pickle Co., a leading brand of pickles, peppers and relishes in the United States. Overall, the pickle maker will create 167 jobs and invest more than $35 million in the project, with 24 jobs and an investment of $21.3 million tied to this grant.
Existing Business Building Category
- In Burke County, a $200,000 grant will support the renovation of a 347,000-sq.-ft. building in Morganton. The structure is currently occupied by Meritor Heavy Vehicle Systems, a supplier of drivetrain, mobility, braking, aftermarket and electric powertrain solutions for commercial vehicle and industrial markets. The company will create 25 jobs and invest more than $4 million in the overall project, with an investment of $3.9 million tied to the state award.
- A $150,000 grant will support the 57,000-sq.-ft. expansion of a building occupied by Nordfab America in the Davidson County town of Thomasville. The company manufactures a Quick-Fit clamp-together duct work and will be enlarging its facility to support its new line of Quick-Fit Visual for warehouse and design space. Twenty-five jobs are expected to be created from the project, with an investment of $2.6 million tied to the grant.
- An RIA grant totaling $500,000 will go to support a second Thomasville renovation, this one being an upgrade to a 57,470-sq.-ft. building occupied by BrassCraft Manufacturing. The company makes and distributes a variety of plumbing products for new construction, repair and remodeling jobs in both the United States and international markets. BrassCraft will create nearly 100 jobs and invest more than $13 million in the overall project, with 72 jobs and an investment of $1,925,000 tied to the state award.
Rural Health Category
- In Surry County, funds totaling $100,000 will support the 3,200-sq.-ft. expansion of the existing Surry Rural Health Center's facility in Mount Airy. The clinic provides preventive care and onsite laboratory testing. Its expansion is necessary to support additional space for urgent care facilities, NCDOC said. The project is expected to create 10 jobs, with a private investment of $286,500 by the health facility.
Grants Funding Four Utility Projects
Cooper also announced that monies were dispersed Feb. 17 to four communities through North Carolina's RIA Industrial Development Fund (IDF) — Utility Account, which provides grants to local governments in Tier 1 or Tier 2 counties. The funds may be used for publicly owned infrastructure projects that are reasonably expected to result in new job creation.
The requests granted through RIA's IDF — Utility Account program went to:
- The Cleveland County town of Shelby received $709,530 to assist the city in building sewer infrastructure at a 62-acre site. The sewer construction is necessary to support the use of a recently constructed, 100,000-sq.-ft. shell building. The RIA approved $562,500 for the project in April 2021.
- A $269,529 grant will aid Franklin County, in partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), in supplying infrastructure to the Triangle North Franklin Business Park, northeast of Raleigh. The county will use the funds to provide water, sewer, and industrial access in a section of the 85-acre park that suffers from a lack of those services.
- In Pitt County, a $300,000 grant will allow the community, in partnership with the EDA, to provide infrastructure to the Farmville Corporate Park. The county will use the Utility Account funds to provide sewer services to the 20-acre site, with an added 150 acres ready for development, while the EDA funds will be used for water and industrial access.
- A $1 million grant will aid Randolph County in supplying water and sewer access at the 160-acre industrial park currently being developed in the town of Randleman. The park was selected for the Duke Energy Site Readiness Study in 2021.
"These grants do not only drive our rural communities' post-pandemic economic recovery," North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said in a statement on her agency's website, "but they also allow businesses, health care facilities and business parks to expand and reach their full potential."
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