North Carolina’s Utility Account provides infrastructure grants to local governments in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties. The North Carolina Department of Commerce administers the Utility Account. All applications are reviewed and approved by the Secretary of Commerce.
Grant amounts depend on funding availability and each project’s relative merits. Grants are awarded to local governments for infrastructure improvements that are publicly owned and maintained. The applicant must demonstrate that the project is expected to lead to job creation in the near future.
The N.C. Department of Commerce annually ranks the state’s 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a tier designation. The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2 and the 20 least distressed as Tier 3. This tier system is incorporated into the Utility Account to encourage economic activity in the less prosperous areas of the state.
For more information about county tier designations, visit our County Development Tier Designations page.
Utility Account grants require a local match of at least one dollar for every three dollars awarded by the Utility Account. However, no local match is required in the state’s 25 most-distressed counties. Federal or state grant funds may not be used for the local match.
The Utility Account provides funding for the construction of public infrastructure to a site in order to enable a company to locate or expand. Eligible uses include:
- Upgrade or repair of public drinking water or wastewater treatment plants
- Upgrade, extension or repair of public water or sewer lines
- Extension of publicly owned natural gas lines (with an executed pipeline construction, operating and resale agreement)
- Installation or extension of public broadband infrastructure
- Construction of publicly owned access roads not owned or funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation
- Construction of public rail spur improvements
Basic Requirements for Eligibility
To be eligible for funding from the Utility Account, the Secretary of Commerce must determine:
- The project is in a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county;
- Jobs created (in no more than three years) will have a measurable, favorable impact on the project’s immediate location and will be commensurate with the size of the grant. The application must show the number and types of jobs to be created;
- Applicant has demonstrated capability to operate the facility;
- Funding will not result in abandonment of an existing facility, except for obsolescence, lack of labor or site limitations, and
- The proposed project will not have a significant adverse effect on the environment.
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina does not award or administer this incentive. All economic development incentives are awarded and administered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.