The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 18 grant requests to local governments totaling $4,847,243, Governor Roy Cooper announced on August 20, 2020. The requests include commitments to create a total of 590 jobs, 296 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $103 million in private investment.
Said Governor Cooper: “North Carolina’s rural communities need support to upgrade their infrastructure to attract good jobs and build a stronger future. Investments like Rural Infrastructure grants signal to businesses and communities that our state is ready for economic development despite the challenges of the pandemic.”
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 NC 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.
Said NC Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland: “These new grants will help rural counties, cities and towns facilitate business expansion, job creation and future economic growth. The Rural Economic Development Division at Commerce and the Rural Infrastructure Authority are proud to continue working with local leaders to make strategic investments in their resilient communities.”
The RIA approved 15 grant requests under the state’s Building Reuse Program in three categories: Vacant Building, Existing Business Building, and Rural Health.
Vacant Building Category
- Burke County: A $500,000 grant will support the reuse of a 319,000-square-foot building in Morganton, where Unix Packaging, LLC, a California-based contract manufacturer of branded and private label beverages, is locating its first East Coast production facility, as well as a warehouse. The company expects to create 226 jobs and invest $19 million in the overall project, while 151 jobs and an investment of $3,697,500 are tied to this grant.
- Carteret County: A $200,000 grant will support the reuse of a 100,000-square-foot building in Newport. Bally Refrigerated Boxes, Inc., a manufacturer of walk-in coolers, freezers and refrigerated warehouses, plans to locate operations at the facility. The project is set to create 49 jobs with an investment of $3,434,903 by the company.
- Town of Hookerton (Greene County): A $55,000 grant will support the reuse of three buildings, totaling 11,825 square feet. Unifab, Inc., a company that manufactures, distributes and sells cargo lifts, plans to locate in the buildings, while creating 10 jobs and investing $56,703 in the project.
- Lincoln County: An $80,000 grant will support the reuse of a 45,000-square-foot building in Lincolnton. Punker, LLC, a manufacturer of industrial fans and blowers, plans to relocate its operations there. The company expects to create 16 jobs while investing $1,990,958 in the project.
- City of Trinity (Randolph County): A $100,000 grant will support the reuse of a 40,000-square-foot building. MG Art Products, LLC, a subsidiary of Jerry’s Artarama, will manufacture paint supplies and framing products at this site. This project is expected to create 22 jobs with an investment of $20,980,000 by the company.
- Vance County: A $500,000 grant will support the reuse of a 197,000-square-foot building in Henderson. Select Products Holdings, LLC, a manufacturer of tissue products that supply a wide range of leading consumer retailers, plans to locate operations at the facility. The company expects to create 73 jobs and invest $4 million in the overall project, while 53 jobs and a $577,901 investment are tied to this grant.
- City of Wilson (Wilson County): A $150,000 grant will support the reuse of a 2,965-square-foot building, a former drug store. North State Consulting, LLC, will make this location its headquarters office. The company, which specializes in working with technology companies to help bring their products to market, expects to create 18 jobs and invest $270,000 in this project.
Existing Business Building Category
- Cleveland County: A $360,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Shelby that is occupied by IMC Metals America, LLC. The company, a smelter of copper to be used for manufacturing parts, plans to add 30,000 square feet to the existing facility. Overall, the company plans to create 46 jobs and invest at least $26,391,643, with an investment of $12,616,114 tied to this grant.
- City of Lexington (Davidson County): A $200,000 grant will support the renovation of a 602,559-square-foot building in the Linwood community that is occupied by Haylard North Carolina, LLC. The company manufactures surgical and infection prevention products, and this renovation will allow the company to add a new line to produce N95 face-masks. The project is set to create 22 jobs and attract $3,009,000 in private investment.
- Lenoir County: A $75,000 grant will support the expansion a building in Kinston. Additive America, Inc., a contract manufacturer that produces 3D-printed prosthetics and personal protective equipment, plans to add 5,000 square feet to the existing facility to help fulfill large client orders. The company expects to add nine jobs and invest $1,245,000 in this project.
- Onslow County: A $230,000 grant will support the renovation of a 191,000-square-foot building in Hubert that is occupied by Waterline Systems, Inc. The company, which manufactures welded aluminum and steel boats and barges, plans to expand its operations at this location, creating an expected 23 jobs while investing $289,900 in the project.
- Robeson County: A $500,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Pembroke that is occupied by Steven Roberts Original Desserts, LLC. The desserts manufacturer plans to add 29,000 square feet to the existing facility. This project is set to create 100 jobs and attract $4,472,286 in private investment.
- Rowan County: A $460,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Salisbury. Continental Structural Plastics, which manufactures lightweight materials and composite solutions for the automotive, heavy truck, HVAC and construction industries, plans to add 55,000 square feet to the existing facility at this location. The overall project is set to create 61 jobs with an investment of $45,023,000, while 46 jobs are tied to this grant.
Rural Health Category
- Town of Glen Alpine (Burke County): A $60,000 grant will support the construction of a new, 3,080-square-foot building. Silver Creek Family Practice, PLLC, a medical practice that serves patients from infants to senior citizens, has outgrown its current space and plans to construct this new facility. The project is set to create six jobs and attract $502,948 in private investment.
- Macon County: A $70,000 grant will support the reuse of a vacant, 3,300-square-foot building in Franklin. Hospice House Foundation, Inc., an inpatient facility that offers hospice and palliative care, home care, care navigation, and clinical research, is set to add a facility at this location. The organization, which currently has nine facilities throughout North Carolina, expects to create seven jobs and invest $4,500,000 in this 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:
- Town of Norwood (Stanly County): A $250,000 grant will support the reuse of an 8,000-square-foot building that will become home to CYES Factory, an east coast location for the Jalisco Tortilla Factory. The company plans to produce non-GMO and organic tortillas at this location. Renovations supported by the grant will impact the roof, HVAC, electrical, plumbing and flooring. The project is expected to create 12 jobs and attract private investment in the amount of $400,000.
The Community Development Block Grant program is a US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program administered in part by NC 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:
- Columbus County: An $866,983 grant will help the County provide increased water flow to Helena Chemical Company, which recently completed a move to a new 40-acre site located in the Southeast Regional Park. The water service improvement will also open an additional 130 acres for future economic development at the other end of the park, which is already served by sewer, electric, gas and rail.
- Vance County: A $190,260 grant will assist the County in the completion of sewer and road infrastructure at the county’s premier industrial park. These infrastructure improvements will help make the 84-acre site a viable economic development target.
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 NC Rural Infrastructure Authority formulates policies and priorities for grant and loan programs administered by NC 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.
The RIA elected officers at this meeting. Charles Brown from Stanly County is the authority’s new chairman. Jan Hayes of Lee County will serve as vice-chair.
Visit the NC Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division online at www.nccommerce.com/rd.
Source: Ford Porter, NC Office of the Governor