The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 16 grant requests to local governments totaling $4,130,000. The requests include commitments to create a total of 718 jobs, 144 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $95 million in private investment.
“Our rural communities are the backbone of our state,” Governor Cooper said. “The effects of the pandemic have been profound, but our people are resilient and these grants will stimulate economic growth through building reuse and other infrastructure.”
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.
“These grants allow us the opportunity to unite good businesses with good people,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said. “While businesses will benefit from access to our high-quality workforce, our rural communities will expedite their post-pandemic economic recovery through the creation of hundreds of well-paying jobs and millions in private investment.”
The RIA approved 15 grant requests under the state’s Building Reuse Program in three categories:
Vacant Building Category
- Town of Granite Falls (Caldwell County): A $200,000 grant will support the reuse of a 22,000-square-foot building, where SERVPRO plans to locate its operations. The company specializes in mass and individual disaster cleanup and restoration and offers a variety of services that include fire, smoke, and soot restoration, mold mitigation and remediation, and general cleaning and deodorizing services. This project is expected to create 25 jobs, with an investment of $500,000 by the company.
- Granville County: A $150,000 grant will support the reuse of a 25,000-square-foot building, where Meel Corp, a frozen food company, plans to locate its operations. The company processes and packs organic conventional fruits, vegetables, and frozen convenience products. Meel Corp plans to invest $5,584,000 in the project and create 24 jobs.
- Greene County: A $325,000 grant will support the reuse of a 55,000-square-foot building in Snow Hill. At this location, Precision Graphics, Inc. will establish its operations. The company provides electronic manufacturing solutions to customers in the audio, telecom, automotive, military, and medical industries. The company is expected to create 70 jobs while investing $5.1 million in the overall project, with 40 jobs and an investment of $2,295,000 tied to this grant.
- Town of Columbia (Tyrrell County): A $25,000 grant will support the reuse of a 9,048-square-foot building, where Waypoint Oyster Bar, LLC, will establish a full-service restaurant and bar specializing in local domestic seafood. Through this project, the company expects to create 5 jobs, with an investment of $618,673.
- City of Wilson (Wilson County): A $200,000 grant will support the reuse of a 60,000-square-foot building. The Cherry Hotel, LLC, a historically designated property that is part of the Wilson Business Improvement District redevelopment plan, will establish a commercial chain hotel at this site, complete with 101 guest rooms, a ballroom, and 24-hour food service. This project is expected to create 25 jobs, with an investment of $19,992,000 by the company.
Existing Business Building Category
- Burke County: A $240,000 grant will support the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot building in Morganton. The building is occupied by Toner Machining Technologies, Inc., which specializes in milling and machining operations for the energy, automotive, transportation, and nuclear fields. This project is expected to create 30 jobs, with an investment of $672,000 by the company.
- City of Morganton (Burke County): A $240,000 grant will support the renovation of a 195,000-square-foot building in Morganton. The building is occupied by E J Victor, Inc., a locally-owned, high-end furniture manufacturer that has become a top licensing partner to premier global lifestyle brands. The project is expected to create 30 jobs with an investment of $1,617,880 by the company.
- City of Conover (Catawba County): A $440,000 grant will support the renovation of a 145,000-square-foot building occupied by Sherrill Furniture, a 75-year-old upholstery and case goods manufacturer offering mid-to-high-end home furnishing products. The overall project is expected to create 90 jobs and attract an investment of $2.9 million, while 80 jobs and an investment of $2,543,000 by the company are tied to this grant.
- City of Kings Mountain (Cleveland County): A $50,000 grant will support the expansion of a building occupied by Carolina Piping Services, a division of Saftcart, Inc. The company is a provider of bulk and micro-bulk gas equipment and oxygen cleaning services and plans to add 5,000 square feet to the existing facility. With this project, the company expects to create 6 jobs while investing $205,000.
- City of Fayetteville (Cumberland County): A $70,000 grant will support the renovation of a 29,754-square-foot building that is occupied by eClerx, LLC. The company provides critical business process management to a number of global Fortune 2000 clients across financial services, retail, media & entertainment, manufacturing, and software. The project is expected to create 150 jobs, with an investment of $74,558 by the company.
- City of Thomasville (Davidson County): A $500,000 grant will support the expansion of a building occupied by Unilin North America, LLC. The company is a manufacturer of a variety of flooring products, including the brands Quick-Step and Pergo. The company plans to add 1.6 million square feet to the existing property. This project is expected to create 87 jobs, with an investment of $5,624,851 by the company.
- Duplin County: A $215,000 grant will support the renovation of a 150,000-square-foot building occupied by Cottle Strawberry Nursery, Inc. The company is a supplier of strawberry tips, plugs, and bare root plants for growers, and plans to expand operations by adding a new product line. This project is expected to create 31 jobs, with an investment of $728,000 by the company.
- Town of Troutman (Iredell County): A $125,000 grant will support the expansion of a building occupied by CR Onsrud, Inc. The company manufactures industrial machinery to assist clients in a variety of markets including aircraft, spacecraft, automotive parts, and military and defense parts. The company plans to add 9,000 square feet to the existing facility. In this project, the company plans to create 25 jobs while investing $4,805,058.
Rural Health Category
- Pitt County: A $500,000 grant will support the new construction of a 109,208-square-foot residential chemical dependency treatment facility in Grimesland. At this location, Haven at Blue Creek, a wellness center for those experiencing substance use disorders, plans on creating 70 adult chemical dependency treatment beds along with 12 beds for detoxification. The organization expects to create 80 jobs, with a private investment of $37,940,000 in the project.
- City of Mount Airy (Surry County): A $500,000 grant will support the 25,000-square-foot expansion of Northern Regional Hospital’s existing facility. The hospital serves over 100,000 residents in a six-county region of North Carolina and Virginia. The organization expects to create 50 jobs, with a private investment of $8,900,000 in the project.
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:
- City of Statesville (Iredell County): A $350,000 grant will support the renovation of Parker Hannifin’s newly purchased manufacturing building in Statesville. Parker Hannifin is a Fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies and manufactures fluids and filtration products for industrial use. The project is expected to create 30 jobs, with an investment of $3,823,041 by the company.
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.
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