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Governor Cooper announces Grants to Rural Communities to attract 366 New Jobs and more than $91.3 million in Private Investment

The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 16 grant requests to local governments totaling $4,511,075, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The requests include commitments to create a total of 530 jobs, 164 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $91.3 million in private investment.   

“North Carolina communities continue to move forward with optimism and resiliency, as great places to do business,” Governor Cooper said. “Smart investments like Rural Infrastructure Authority grants will help our economy recover and support the creation of good jobs across our state.”

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.

“Rural North Carolina will be positioned to attract hundreds of new jobs and welcome investments by a variety of innovative employers, thanks to these grants,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said. “Our department’s Rural Economic Development Division and the Rural Infrastructure Authority are proud to continue working with leaders of counties, cities and towns to make strategic investments in their communities.”

The RIA approved nine grant requests under the state’s Building Reuse Program in three categories:

Vacant Building Category 

  • City of Thomasville (Davidson County): A $150,000 grant will support the reuse of a 54,380-square-foot building, where Contaminant Control, Inc. plans to locate operations. The company, which provides a range of environmental, abatement, remediation and demolition services, expects to create 30 jobs and invest $532,893 in this project.
  • Lincoln County: A $250,000 grant will support the reuse of a 115,924-square-foot building in Lincolnton. Taiji Medical Supplies, a subsidiary of Taiji Chemical Fiber Equipment, plans to produce N95 respirators at this location to meet the ongoing needs for personal protective equipment, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company expects to create 79 jobs, while investing $12,212,500 in the project.
  • McDowell County: A $140,000 grant will support the reuse of a 28,762-square-foot building in Old Fort. Triple Aught Design, a company that designs, engineers, produces and retails high-quality adventure apparel and equipment, plans to establish manufacturing operations at the facility. The company is expected to create 70 jobs and invest $1 million in the overall project, while 31 jobs and an investment of $245,250 are tied to this grant.
  • City of Greenville (Pitt County): A $500,000 grant will support the reuse of a 230,000-square-foot building, where World Cat, a manufacturer of custom boats, plans to locate. The company plans to create 60 jobs and invest $4.5 million in this project.
  • Robeson County: A $350,000 grant will support the reuse of a 63,000-square-foot building in Red Springs. Serioplast US LLC, a global manufacturer of plastic packaging for the consumer goods industry, plans to locate operations at the facility. The overall project is set to create 46 new jobs with an investment of $9.42 million, while 31 jobs and a $9,367,500 investment are tied to this grant.
  • City of Monroe (Union County): A $250,000 grant will support the reuse of a 98,000-square-foot building, where Hamilton Drywall Products plans to locate operations. The company, which produces a variety of drywall installation and construction products, expects to create 34 jobs and invest $3,923,023 in this project.

Existing Business Building Category

  • City of Lenoir (Caldwell County): A $500,000 grant will support the renovation of a 412,554-square-foot building, where Craftmaster Furniture, Inc., recently expanded. The furniture manufacturer plans to create 62 jobs and invest $753,405 in this project.
  • City of Newton (Catawba County): A $200,000 grant will support the expansion of a building that is occupied by RMC Advanced Technologies, a manufacturer of composite components for utilization in the heavy truck, coach, transit, and wind energy markets. The company plans to add 4,480 square feet to the existing facility. This project is set to create 35 jobs and attract $992,280 in private investment.

Rural Health Category

  • Washington County: A $400,000 grant will support the reuse of a 9,542-square-foot building in Plymouth. Agape Health Services, which provides medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services, plans to establish its third facility at this location. The company expects to create 32 jobs and invest $1.3 million 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 Economic Infrastructure program:

  • Brunswick County: A $100,000 grant will support the development of a site in Navassa. The infrastructure improvements are set to include construction of four manholes and 8-inch bore and jack across the roadway to provide public wastewater to a building occupied by HSM Machine Works. The company manufactures landing gear for the aviation and aerospace industry. Adding this infrastructure will facilitate a project in which the company plans to create 17 jobs and invest $150,000. 

The Economic Infrastructure Program provides grants to local governments to assist with infrastructure projects that will lead to job creation. The program gives priority to jurisdictions in the 80 most economically distressed counties (Tiers 1 and 2) and can help build water and sewer lines, wastewater treatment plants, natural gas lines, public broadband infrastructure, roadways, rail spurs, and other infrastructure allowed under program guidelines.

The RIA approved two requests under the state’s Rural Demolition grant program:

  • City of Conover (Catawba County): A $67,950 grant will support the demolition and removal of a 21,822-square-foot, county-owned building. The City has plans for a public-private partnership to develop the property for manufacturing incubator space.
  • Town of Williamston (Martin County): A $43,125 grant will support the demolition and removal of a 3,120-square-foot, county-owned building. The Town plans to market the site, centrally located in the Historic District, for redevelopment in efforts to revitalize the downtown area.  

The Rural Demolition program provides grants to local governments to support the demolition of a publicly-owned, persistently vacant building to encourage site rehabilitation and site availability for economic development purposes. Eligible applicants are units of local government located in either a Tier 1 or Tier 2 county, or a rural census tract in a Tier 3 county.

The RIA approved two requests under the state’s federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - Economic Development program:

  • Beaufort County: A $400,000 grant will support renovations to a building in Washington where Pamlico Air is expanding its manufacturing operations to add a new air purification product line. The company, formerly organized as Cleanaire LLC, will manufacture high-quality air filters for use in medical labs, biomanufacturing facilities and hospitals. Upfits to the site are set to include plumbing, mechanical, electrical, sprinkler, flooring and millwork. The overall project is expected to create 39 jobs, while 33 jobs and a private investment of $3,050,000 are tied to this grant.
  • Granville County: A $460,000 grant will support the reuse of part of a 150,000-square-foot building near Butner, where Nugget Comfort, a manufacturer of children's upholstered foam furniture and toys, plans to locate operations. Renovations to the building are set to include electrical, plumbing, piping, drywall, flooring and painting. This project is expected to create 46 jobs and attract private investment in the amount of $4,320,000.

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.

The RIA approved two requests under the state’s Industrial Development Fund - Utility Account program:

  • Bessemer City (Gaston County): A $200,000 grant will support the installation of infrastructure to connect the Bessemer City water system to the Two Rivers Utilities system. Bessemer City has partnered with the City of Gastonia to install a significant water system interconnection that will provide economic development opportunities and increase water supply security for the region. In addition to supporting existing employers and opening 300 acres for future development, this interconnection will complete the regional water grid between the French Broad and Catawba Rivers.
  • Lenoir County: A $500,000 grant will help the County provide industrial access at the NC Global TransPark. The expansion of a taxiway to the north side of the runway will accommodate the needs of Draken International, which operates the largest fleet of privately-owned tactical aircraft in the world. This project will support the addition of 40 jobs and an investment of $50 million by the company.

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.

For additional information about N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division, visit www.nccommerce.com/rd.