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Governor Cooper announces Grants to Rural Communities to attract 375 New Jobs and more than $60 million in private investment

The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 12 grant requests to local governments totaling $4,566,930, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The requests include commitments to create a total of 439 jobs, 64 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $60 million in private investment.   

“A broad-based economic recovery requires investments in rural North Carolina communities, and that is what these grants will do,” Governor Cooper said. “These grants will help counties and towns with water, sewer and buildings to help their existing small businesses and residents as well as attracting more good paying jobs.” 

RIA members review and approve funding requests from local communities. Funding comes from a variety of specialized grant and loan programs managed by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division. Grants support a variety of activities, including infrastructure, building renovation, expansion and demolition and site improvements.

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

Vacant Building Category

  • City of Morganton (Burke County): A $130,000 grant will support the reuse of a 50,000-square-foot building, where Toner Machining Technologies, Inc., plans to locate operations. The company, a precision machine shop that specializes in milling and machining operations for the energy, automotive, transportation and nuclear fields, expects to create 16 jobs and invest $593,000 in this project.
  • Martin County: A $130,000 grant will support the reuse of a 64,509-square-foot building in Robersonville, where The Jay Group, Ltd., a wholesaler of discount footwear, plans to locate. The company is expected to create 22 jobs and invest $334,500 in the project. 
  • McDowell County: A $35,000 grant will support the reuse of a 7,600-square-foot building in Marion. At this location, Toolcraft, Inc., a manufacturer of key and bolt carriers for certain firearms, plans to create 10 jobs while investing $100,044.

Existing Business Building Category

  • Burke County: A $500,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Morganton that is occupied by J.E. Ekornes USA, Inc. The company, a furniture manufacturer, plans to add 100,000 square feet to the existing facility. Through this project, the company plans to add 80 jobs and invest $5,720,600.
  • Lenoir County: A $500,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Kinston that is occupied by West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc., a global manufacturer of vial contaminant solutions for injectable medicines. The company plans to add 12,300 square feet to the existing facility. The project is expected to create 85 jobs and attract $2,754,250 in private investment.
  • Lincoln County: A $150,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Denver that is occupied by UNOX, Inc., a manufacturer of professional ovens. The company plans to add 28,750 square feet to the existing facility. This project is set to create 27 jobs, with an investment of $3,104,250 by the company.
  • Pender County: A $350,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Burgaw that is occupied by Cardinal Foods, LLC. The company, a supplier of fruits and vegetables, specializes in individual quick freeze and frozen puree products, and plans to add 56,000 square feet to the existing facility. With this project, the company plans to add 48 jobs while investing $24,350,000.
  • City of Mt. Airy (Surry County): A $210,000 grant will support the renovation of a 12,848-square-foot building that is occupied by United Sewing Automation, Inc., a manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE) face masks. The project is expected to create 35 jobs, with an investment of $1,040,000 by the company.

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:

  •  Lenoir County: A $200,000 grant will support the renovation of a vacant, 255,000-square-foot building in Kinston, where Crown Equipment plans to expand its operations. The company manufactures a line of high-quality lift trucks, including electric and internal-combustion models. The overall project is expected to create more than 130 jobs and represents an investment of $13.2 million by the company, while 16 of those jobs are tied to this grant.

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 three requests under the state’s Industrial Development Fund - Utility Account program:

  •  City of Reidsville (Rockingham County): A $539,935 grant will support the City in its efforts to extend water and sewer service at a 55-acre industrial site that was once a horse park. This site previously received support from the state’s Rural ReadySites program, which funded infrastructure construction and improvements for locations with a strong potential to attract employers, create jobs and strengthen the economy.
  • Sampson County: A $1,281,995 grant will assist the County in providing water and sewer service and industrial access for a 100-acre site at the Sampson Southeast Business Center in Clinton. With easy access to both I-40 and I-95, the County believes the industrial park is well-situated as an anchor for future economic development efforts. 
  • Surry County: A $540,000 grant will help the County provide natural gas service to support efforts by Altec Industries to expand on its existing property. The company provides products and services to the electric utility, telecommunications, tree care, lights and signs and contractor markets. Natural gas will allow for the addition of a 100,000-square-foot distribution facility and free up space in an existing building for additional manufacturing capacity. This project is expected to support the creation of 100 jobs and represents a $9-million investment 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 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 to spur development projects in rural areas.

In addition to reviewing and approving funding requests, the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority formulates policies 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