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Golden LEAF President joins conference to announce loan program
Grants will leverage over $27.5 million
in loans to N.C.'s small businesses

Dan Gerlach, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation, joined officials from the Office of the Governor, N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development, and U.S. Department of Commerce at the American Recovery Reinvestment Act Advocacy and Outreach Inititiative press conference on October 9 in Charlotte, N.C.

The conference was held to announce a statewide economic outreach project to increase minority business access to Recovery Act contracting opportunities. Gerlach was on hand to announced the Golden LEAF Loan Program at Self-Help and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center Loan Program, which will provide loans to help businesses access capital during tough economic times.


Andrea Harris, President of the N.C. Institute of Minoirtiy Economic Development speaks to a packed crowd on October 9 about the role minority businesses play in N.C.'s economy. Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President, (far right) announced the Golden LEAF Loan Program.

“The Golden LEAF Loan Program will bolster our state’s economy and protect jobs, consistent with our mission to promote the social welfare of our citizens and to provide economic impact assistance to North Carolina’s tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President.

Self-Help will administer the loan programs, which received a $5 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation and $500,000 from the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center through an appropriation provided by the North Carolina General Assembly. These programs will leverage an estimated $27.5 million in loans to North Carolina business owners.

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton praised Golden LEAF's investment in a small business fund and played a key role in getting the Rural Center appropriation.

“During this economic crisis, we’ve watched as big business received massive bailouts, but not enough attention has been paid to small businesses, which really are the foundation of our economy,” Dalton said.  “As I have talked with small business owners, I have heard loud and clear that more help is needed and providing these loans is a powerful step. I want to thank the N.C. Rural Center for their support along with the Golden LEAF Board for their strong investment and vision.”

Priority for the Golden LEAF loans has been placed on North Carolina businesses in the following industries: healthcare, construction, green industries, agricultural, or manufacturing. Minority and women business owners are strongly encouraged to apply.

For more information about how to apply for a Golden LEAF loan, contact Self-Help Senior Loan Officer Jane Hatley at 828-771-2817 or by e-mail at


Governor Perdue joins Golden LEAF and partners to announce Rural Hope
Nearly $3.9 million in funding awarded to improve rural health care facilities

Gov. Bev Perdue joined the Golden LEAF Foundation, the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center, and the N.C. Health and Wellness Trust Fund to announce grant awards for Rural Hope, a rural health care initiative designed to enable better health care delivery and job creation by assisting in the construction and expansion of rural health care facilities.

“In many areas of our state, rural hospitals and health care facilities work on tight budgets to serve their communities. Rural Hope will ease the burden by bringing health care and jobs to rural communities across North Carolina,” said Perdue. “I commend the North Carolina Rural Center, the Golden LEAF Foundation and the Health and Wellness Trust Fund for working together to support this initiative and making sure our citizens receive the help they need.”

The 24 Rural Hope grant awards are funded through the Golden LEAF Foundation, the Rural Center, and the NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund and total $3,818,866. The grant application required that at least one new job be created for every $12,000 in grant funds received, resulting in 310 new jobs. Application requirements also specified that grants be matched by at least an equal amount of private and/or public funds.

“The Golden LEAF Foundation is committed to supporting the growth and quality of rural health care, as it is a vital part of the infrastructure necessary for rural communities to attract companies and citizens,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “The Foundation has made significant investments in the industry, including six grants that benefit North Carolinians from Murphy to Kinston."

Golden LEAF's Rural Hope Awards

Rural Hope_GLF Awards

Priority for Rural Hope was given to small towns with a population of less than 5,000 and to unincorporated areas. Eligible health care facilities included: hospitals, urgent care centers, physician offices, hospice care, aging centers, mental health providers, physical therapy providers, free clinics, rural and community health centers, dental care, vision care and safety net providers.


Golden LEAF awards $3.5 million to train workers for job opportunities
DCCC awarded $250,000 to expand program for high truck driver demand

Golden LEAF has awarded 23 grants totaling $3.5 million for short-term, non-degree workforce development training projects that target identified employment opportunities in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural communities through its Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) program. The Initiative will help address some of the urgent employment challenges and opportunities North Carolina faces during the current economic downturn.

Through one of its GLOW grants, Golden LEAF awarded Davidson County Community College $250,000 to help expand its truck driving program, in demand by many workers in transition who lost jobs due to regional layoffs. The College estimates the area demand will reach approximately 1,150 drivers within the next 3 to 5 years.

Students from Davidson, Davie and many surrounding counties say the program appeals to them because of high wages the industry offers, readily available jobs and the quick, two-month turnaround from the time of enrollment to graduation.

With the grant, DCCC purchased two, used International heavy duty yard trucks and a new tractor-trailer semi truck. This will mark the first new truck in the history of the program. It is not uncommon for trucks to clock up to a million miles before they are traded for newer models.

The new trucks will provide the program with industry standard equipment that will allow the college to increase their annual capacity by approximately 24 students.

"Our students generally drive trucks with over 700,000 miles," said Bob Paris, who coordinates the Truck Driving Program. "These more modern, updated trucks will allow us to operate more efficiently."

Pictured is Teddy Ricker, a student enrolled in the DCCC truck driver training program, climbing into a Golden LEAF funded truck.

Students can enroll in full- or part-time courses to complete the 384 hours required to graduate from the program. Most graduates will have good paying jobs as soon as they finish.

“The training is intense but enjoyable,” said Teddy Ricker, 33, as he climbed behind of the wheel of one of the International day cab tractors.

After graduating from West Davidson High School in 1995, Ricker studied computer programming at DCCC, but decided to pursue other career opportunities in manufacturing and maintenance. Both jobs ended in layoffs due to the economic downturn. This posed a hardship since his wife was still in college, and they have a child and a mortgage to pay.

Ricker said he believes job stability and wages are good in the transportation industry.

“Freight companies recruit at DCCC and say they want people who can drive their trucks safely and properly,” he said. “I hope to go to work switching tractor trailer loads at the Food Lion grocery chain and eventually work my way up to be an over-the-road driver for them."


Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative awards over $27.8 million to date
Communities across the state
have common priorities for progress

Almost 2 years into the Golden LEAF Community Assitance Initiative (CAI), the Foundation has awarded over $27.8 million for 59 projects in 15 counties. The Foundation is continuing its work in counties designated Tier 1 by the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The Golden LEAF Foundation adopted the CAI in the summer of 2007 to provide direct support to communities in most need of economic transition assistance. CAI is a grantsmaking process that provides funding for projects that significantly enhance the quality of life for citizens within targeted communities.

The Foundation invites citizens from the counties participating in the Initiative to prioritize funding needs and come to consensus on projects before submitting them to the Golden LEAF Board of Directors for consideration. Projects funded under this Initiative are expected to help stimulate economic activity or provide assistance in overcoming barriers to economic transition or community progress.

What follows is a look back at three counties that have completed the CAI process and received funding for their priority projects.

Hyde County -- On October 4, the Golden LEAF Foundation participated in the long-awaited grand opening of the Engelhard Medical Center, funded in part through the Foundation's CAI process. As Hyde County's only primary care facility, the need for access to care was not only a priority but a necessity.

The county's previous medical center facility consisted of a double-wide trailor with no waiting room. Patients waited for their appointment in rocking chairs on the porch of the Community Center next door.

While many things have changed, the newly constructed 6,000-square-foot medical center still features rocking chairs out front to remind the community of how far they have come. The center is expected to double the number of patients receiving care in the first year of operation alone. Golden LEAF funds were applied toward the construction of the facility and office equipment.

Engelhard Medical

Pictured are representatives from the Engelhard Medical Center, Golden LEAF Foundation, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, N.C. House of Representatives, Rural Health & Community Care, and ECU Brody School of Medicine at the Engelhard Medical Center grand opening event on October 4.

Five projects from organizations in Hyde County received over $1.7 million in funding for physical infrastructure and equipment that will support the healthcare and fishing industries, water and sewer improvements, and a community kitchen for business and community functions.

Alice Keeney
Hyde County Planner/ Economic Developer –

“Golden LEAF’s Community Assistance Initiative has been a godsend for us. While it was a difficult process in coming to consensus on the priorities in our county and agreeing on projects for funding, the results were well worth it. We produced a diverse set of projects that have made and are making a huge impact on the county. From the Ocracoke Fish House on our coast to the Engelhard Medical Center on the mainland, Golden LEAF has provided Hyde County with some of the key pieces of physical infrastructure needed to move the county forward towards economic opportunity. There were lessons learned and partnerships formed. We are particularly pleased with the input and support we received from our community and state leaders, including Representative Tim Spear and Senator A.B. Swindell. These officials played an important role in the process and showed interest in the county’s needs as identified by their constituents.”

Caldwell County -- Although Caldwell County, located in the foothills of western North Carolina, may not appear to have much in common with an eastern North Carolina community like Hyde County, both counties chose healthcare as top prioirities for their communities.

Caldwell Memorial Hospital received two grants to provide improvements to healthcare for the county. The first grant was for equipment that would aid in the recruitment of three medical specialists, providing services that were not currently available in the county and creating 18 new jobs. The second grant serves the high-rate of uninsured citizens that need access to primary care, through the Helping Hands Clinic.


Laura Easton, Caldwell Memorial Hospital President and CEO, (second from left) introduces Dr. Matthew Hannibal, Orthopedic Spine Surgeon, (far left) one of their successful specialist recruitments. N.C. House of Representatives Phillip Frye and Edgar Starnes, N.C. Senator Jim Jacumin, and Caldwell County Commissioner Herb Greene congratulate the hospital on its success.

Five projects from organizations in Caldwell County received $1.96 million in funding for the purchase of specialized hospital equipment, construction costs related to a raw water intake and pump system, a curriculum program for seven county schools, and assistance for the Helping Hands Clinic.

Laura Easton, Caldwell Memorial Hospital President/
Chief Executive Officer –

"The Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative pulled together Caldwell leaders and citizens to pinpoint the issues that were important to the community and to best identify projects that would make the most impact. The process spurred healthy conversation, resulting in our steering committee being 100% behind the projects submitted to the Golden LEAF Board for funding. We were thrilled that the Foundation saw fit to fund all of our priorities. The approximately $2 million provided key infrastructure to Caldwell County such as access to water, a future workforce by investing in the education of our youth, and healthcare services and new jobs for the community. The Community Assistance Initiative resulted in community camaraderie and economic successes for a Tier 1 county in trying times.”

Warren County -- While Warren and Caldwell counties have different assets and strengths to build upon, both counties had a similar strategy when it came to transforming their economies -- investing in the education of their youth.

Warren County citizens were concerned not only for their present barriers to economic progress but also over their future. Warren County allotted over half of their possible $2 million budget to the build the capacity of the youth of their county.

The Warren County School System received a two-part grant to help with integrating instructional technology into the schools. The first part of the grant would affect the elementary and middle schools with the aim to improve opportunities for effective teaching and increased student engagement and learning. The second part of the grant would provide technology resources for the high schools to help increase the number of students taking online courses for high school and college credit.


Pictured are Warren County Schools teachers who participated in the first phase of technology training and will serve as mentors for the teachers in their schools.

The school system has completed the first phase of training and has moved some technology into the classrooms. A few teachers from each school will implement technology into everyday instruction, develop lesson plans and best practices and then mentor other teachers in their school as new teachers phase in instructional technology.

Warren County received $1.9 million to invest in the county school system to enhance classroom instruction and improve student engagement and achievement with the infusion of technology in the classrooms and in the county-owned Armory building to provide a centrally located, well-equipped facility that will serve as a hub for business and civic activities countywide.

Linda Worth, Warren County Manager --

"The Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative process went very well and was an overall great experience in Warren County. We were able to come together, from all segments of the community, to decide the best way for relatively limited funds to make the most difference in our county. Our process worked best for us because we decided as a group to form a smaller, yet representative, committee with a nonvoting chair to make the final tough decisions. The committee agreed to set ground rules, committed to attending all meetings, and did their homework. After we fine-tuned our priorities and chose our projects, we presented our proposal for funding back to the full body before submitting it to Golden LEAF’s Board. At the end of the process, we all left as friends, knowing we had made a unified decision that was in the best interest of all the citizens of our county. Our priority projects are helping to improve educational opportunities and community services for our youth and citizens."

Message from the President

Dan GerlachThe Golden LEAF Foundation started 10 years ago this month. We have accomplished much, including awarding 825 grants totaling more than $393 million since inception.

While we hope that the North Carolina economy has begun to recover, the Golden LEAF Board and staff know that we must continue to be bold and aggressive in our efforts.

To that end, the Board has awarded 22 grants totaling $3.5 million to community colleges through our GLOW program to train people for jobs available immediately.

We have also launched the Golden LEAF Loan Program at Self-Help. Self-Help will administer our $5 million grant and a $500,000 state appropriation to leverage over $27.5 million in loans to small businesses. Getting capital moving is crucial to economic prosperity. For more details, click here.

Health care is one of the bright spots of our economy. Last month, Gov. Bev Perdue joined us and other funders to announce grants under the Rural Hope program. These grants helped rural health care providers create more jobs, invest in equipment and facilities, and increase health access to our citizens.

There is more. The Golden LEAF Board has also earmarked $5 million to develop the future and current aerospace workforce for jobs in North Carolina’s rapidly growing aerospace industry. Also with an eye on new economic trends, the Board has developed an initiative to focus on development of local foods. As North Carolinians demand fresher, tastier food, we will invest in efforts to help North Carolina farmers and related businesses meet that demand through increased food safety verification, value-added processing and marketing.

Golden LEAF is also breathing new life in some of its older ways of grantsmaking. We are reforming our scholarship programs to focus on identifying young people from rural North Carolina that show high potential to return to rural communities as leaders.

Our Community Assistance Initiative, which provides approximately $2 million in grants to each of the state's most economically distressed counties, is currently active in 8 counties (Halifax, Vance, Columbus, Robeson, Northampton, Lenoir, Burke, and Cleveland). We are excited about the vision and enthusiasm of the hundreds of citizens who are participating the process.

Innovation. Community Engagement. Collaboration. Focus on the mission of job creation. These are the hallmarks of our work, and we are proud to do it with you all. May our next 10 years be even more successful.

Thank you for your support of the Foundation and its work.

Dan Gerlach can be contacted by e-mail at


Golden LEAF announces Local Foods Initiative
Buying local produce is becoming big business

Recently, public interest in local foods has grown, creating new economic opportunities for North Carolina farmers and businesses. Golden LEAF has supported several local foods projects through the years, but has now developed a strategic initiative to expand more rapidly local food opportunities for North Carolina farmers and businesses.

For the Local Foods Initiative, Golden LEAF is looking primarily for projects that will improve and expand farmers’ access to commercial, retail and institutional markets that are increasing their use of local foods, especially those markets willing to pay a premium for local products.

Golden LEAF has committed over $3.6 million to local foods efforts to date. Golden LEAF funded the Center for Environmental Farming System's Farm to Fork program through the North Carolina Agriculture Foundation, which consisted of a series of regional meetings regarding local foods and a statewide leadership summit. Information gathered from these meetings, along with meetings with other agricultural officials from North Carolina, has confirmed Golden LEAF's aim to help develop this promising field in the state's agricutural economy.

According to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems website, if every North Carolinian dedicated just 10 percent of their food purchases—or a little over a dollar a day—to local foods, it would raise $3.5 billion for the local economy.

Click here to find more information on the Local Foods Initiative.


Golden LEAF scholar helping others achieve
High school students learning core skills to apply,
pay for college

For students in many of the counties Golden LEAF serves, going to college is not a given. In fact, for first generation college-bound students, taking the necessary steps to access higher education opportunities may be completely foreign.

The Golden LEAF Foundation has provided grants to support the Carolina College Advising Corps program at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. The program provides advisers to high schools to help show students that college is an option for them by helping them take the right tests, apply to colleges and universities of their choice and apply for financial aid.

Kay Exum, who received a Golden LEAF scholarship to attend college, is a Carolina College Advising Corps member working in Northwest and Southeast Halifax high schools in Halifax County. Her goal is to get the college attendance rate up in the schools she serves. The 2009-2010 school year will mark her 2nd year as a Corps member and her first mentoring a new Carolina College Advising Corps adviser, Renisha Howard, who is serving North Edgecombe and Tarboro high schools in Edgecombe County.

Corps advisers are recent University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill graduates, working with students in economically distressed areas of the state. Golden LEAF has provided the College Advising Corps funding for five positions located in Caldwell, Scotland, Robeson, Warren and Edgecombe counties.

Exum, a native of Johnston County, sees her share of success stories from the students she mentors.


Pictured are (middle) Kay Exum, Carolina Advising Corps advisor, and (left) Siedah Hunter and (right) Clayreese McDaniels, seniors at Southeast Halifax High School reading a college application on

"I love my job with the Carolina College Advising Corps because I get to meet such great students and dedicated teachers," said Exum. "I work with students in Eastern North Carolina, which is my home and thus a place that I love. This position has been a wonderful opportunity for me to serve a community that needs me."

Last year, she worked with a young lady who wanted to go to prestigous college. At the beginning of the school year, they registered for the SAT and filled out applications together. She was a bright student, who Exum felt should definitely get into her college of choice.

In January, when it was time to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get funding assistance to pay for college, Exum found outmore about the challenges the student faced. She had been abandoned by her mother and lived with her grandparents, but they were not her legal guardians, leaving her in a state of financial aid limbo.

Because this was not a typical situation, it took a month or two of seeking advice to find the proper way to fill out the FAFSA. The student had to get letters from professionals in the community to attest to her living situation and had to fax the letters to each school she was applying to.

Exum then helped the student complete the application process including taking advantage of application fee waivers.

The student now attends her first choice college and has financial aid. Recently, the student asked Exum why everyone told her college was going to be so hard when it seemed easy to her so far. Exum told her that because of all the hard work she did in high school trying to get to college, most things will seem easy by comparison.

"I love that I get to make stories like this happen every day," said Exum. "I admired the young lady's perseverance in getting this extra task done, on top of all the other things seniors in high school have to do, plus taking some very difficult classes."

Upcoming Events

Grant Deadlines:

Local Foods Initiative
November 2, 2009

Economic Catalyst Grant CycleJanuary 15, 2010

Open Grants Program
Accepting proposals year-round

Community Assistance Initiative - Proposal Ideas Deadlines

Lenoir County
Community Assistance Initiative

To be considered, project ideas must be submitted using a proposal form specific to Lenoir County and directly address the key issues and desired outcomes agreed to over a series of community meetings.

Nov. 2, 2009, 5 pm

Contact for Information/ Forms:

Courtney Mills
Pat Cabe


Northampton County
Community Assistance Initiative

To be considered, project ideas must be submitted using a proposal form specific to Northampton County and directly address the key issues and desired outcomes agreed to over a series of community meetings.

Nov. 30, 2009, 5 pm

Contact for Information/ Forms:

Courtney Mills
Pat Cabe


Golden LEAF News Links

North Carolina Rising (1-hour compilation of series)

Golden LEAF interview at Stanly CC

Golden LEAF News - Sept. 2009

Golden LEAF News - Aug. 2009

Golden LEAF News - July 2009

Golden LEAF News - June 2009

Golden LEAF News - May 2009

Golden LEAF News - Apr. 2009

Golden LEAF News - Mar. 2009

Golden LEAF News - Feb. 2009

Golden LEAF News - Jan. 2009

LEAF Lines - Spring Ed. 2009

LEAF Lines - Winter Ed. 2009

LEAF Lines - Fall Ed. 2008


About the Golden
LEAF Foundation

Established in 1999, the Golden LEAF Foundation was created to manage one-half of North
Carolina’s share of funds from the Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies.

Golden LEAF supports tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/ or rural communities working to transition to more prosperous and stable economies.

Golden LEAF focuses grantsmaking in three areas: agriculture, job creation and retention, and workforce preparedness --
supplemented by grants in education and community assistance.

The Foundation has awarded 825 grants totaling more than $393 million since its inception.

To learn more about Golden LEAF or to apply for a grant, visit


Questions about Golden LEAF?
Please contact Mark Sorrells at

Comments or feedback about our newsletter?
Please contact Jenny Tinklepaugh at

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