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LEAF Lines Spring 2015

Golden LEAF commits
$50 million to entice auto manufacturer to N.C.
Funding can be used for public infrastructure, workforce training

On February 5, 2015, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors announced that it reserved $50 million to provide support for the location of an automobile manufacturing facility within the borders of North Carolina.

"The state is readying itself to win and host this type of manufacturing industry," said Johnathan Rhyne, Chair of the Golden LEAF Board of Directors. "The Golden LEAF Board took this action to demonstrate its commitment to this emerging opportunity. An automobile manufacturer and its suppliers can create thousands of jobs and serve as a catalyst for long-term economic advancement."

Since its inception, Golden LEAF has been committed to using the funds entrusted to it for projects with the most potential for bolstering North Carolina's long-term economy, especially in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities.

"The committed Golden LEAF funds are not earmarked for a specific site or company, but to a site that an automobile manufacturer has indicated is its preferred North Carolina location," said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President. "The Foundation generally does not make a single grant of this magnitude, but recognizes the transformative potential of attracting this industry. The Board's commitment is equal to a year and a half of our current grantsmaking budget, conveying the seriousness and aggressiveness that will be required to be successful."

As a public charity, Golden LEAF funds can be used for costs associated with project needs such as public infrastructure and workforce training.

To read more about the announcement, visit:


Food distribution facility creates 152 new jobs in Alamance County
Golden LEAF provides funding for public infrastructure

The Alamance County Sheetz distribution facility has hired 152 employees since its Fall 2014 opening. The Sheetz facility handles food manufacturing, warehousing and distribution and is expected to create a total of 253 jobs by the end of 2018. Golden LEAF provided an Economic Catalyst grant of approximately $679,000 to the City of Burlington to construct needed water and wastewater infrastructure to serve the distribution facility plus an additional 100 acres of land zoned for industrial use.

Sheetz Ribbon Cutting Event

On November 12, 2015, Governor Pat McCrory, Sheetz officials and employees and other local and state officials participated in a ribbon cutting event at the new Sheetz distribution facility in Burlington, N.C.

"In 2011, a representative of the Sheetz organization made a comment about the possibility of creating a distribution center in the southeast to serve its many stores located in the Carolinas, Virginia, and other southern states," said Mac Williams, President of the Alamance County Economic Development Association. "We were able to offer them what they needed to make the site work, and a large part of that need was reliable water and sewer service."

Williams said in order to make the 44 acre site in Burlington work for Sheetz, the county had to upgrade the industrial site.

"We had a whole lot of work to do to beef up the water service, made possible by the grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation," said Williams. "Both residential and commercial properties in the area now have better services, and it opened up another 100 acres for some more industrial sites."

Sheetz Employees

Several of the new Sheetz employees were on site for the ribbon cutting event.

Sheetz is consistently ranked on many Best Places to Work lists in states where it has a presence. In North Carolina's 2013 competition, Sheetz was ranked the Number 3 Best Places to Work. Williams said that local Sheetz employees have confirmed that report.

"I met a Sheetz employee at a recent business after hours hosted by the company," said Williams. "She said that she absolutely loved working there. She said, 'everything Sheetz said about being treated like part of a big family is true.' And the job could not have come at a better time because she had just been downsized from her former employer and was able to go from what she was doing to a different industry using a very similar skill set. She said she feels like she has a good future at Sheetz."

Alamance County is benefiting from the location of Sheetz Distribution Center in a variety of ways.

Sheetz Employee

Pictured is one of the new Sheetz distribution facility employees.

"We will have 250 jobs here that weren't here before that are good paying jobs with a great company," said Williams. "They have hosted business after hours with our local chamber members. They have been a great corporate citizen of our local community."


Golden LEAF-funded
STEM programs producing award winners
Two schools named
STEM Schools of Distinction

Several Golden LEAF-funded STEM programs have won statewide awards. Norwayne Middle School had four first place teams at the N.C. Technology Student Association (TSA) conference and the middle school TSA advisor was named Advisor of the Year. In addition, Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School in Lenoir County and Wayne School of Engineering in Wayne County were among 13 schools recognized in North Carolina as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Schools of Distinction.

Paul Casey is a teacher and TSA advisor at Norwayne Middle School. He gives his students all the credit for being named the N.C. TSA Middle School Advisor of the Year for 2014.

"I had several groups that placed really well last year," said Casey. "At the 2014 state TSA conference, I had four first place teams."

Paul Casey and student

TSA Middle School Advisor of the Year, Paul Casey, works with his TSA teams on projects after school between coaching several soccer teams and being with his family.

The Norwayne TSA club has between 80 and 110 members each year. Through the after school TSA club, students can enroll in different computer-aided learning modules to help them compete in TSA conference events.

"In 2014, one of my TSA teams placed first in the statewide Inventions and Innovations competition and used lessons learned from the Plastics and Polymers module," said Casey. "The team decided that their product needed to be made out of plastic, so they used a 3D printer to create their prototype."

That team placed 4th in the nationals held in Washington, D.C., and are now seeking a patent for their invention, The Plaque Attacker, an improved toothbrush.

The Plaque Attacker - Team Project

These Norwayne Middle School students won first place in a statewide TSA conference for their invention, The Plaque Attacker.

"They are working with the East Carolina University Office of Innovation and Economic Development to pursue the patent," said Casey. "They also entered their product and won first place at the Eastern N.C. Entrepreneurship Summit in November 2014."

For Casey, one of his main objectives is teaching students about their potential career options.

"As a Career and Technical Education teacher at the middle school level, the most important thing I can do is expose students to careers that they would not have otherwise considered," said Casey. "I get really excited when students say they are considering a career in the field they studied due to their experience in my class. This lets me know the modules are working and the grant funding was more than worthwhile."

Norwayne Middle School feeds into Wayne School of Engineering, which was given the highest designation in STEM education as a school of distinction along with Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School. Each school will serve as a model for other schools pursuing the designation.

"These schools represent the very best of the best in STEM education, not just in North Carolina but across the nation," said Dr. Sam Houston, President and CEO of the N.C. Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center. "Along with several key partners, we have worked diligently with these schools to create a meaningful designation that will help other schools across North Carolina and country become just as successful in the future."

To apply for the STEM School of Distinction designation, schools are required to submit lesson plans, video evidence, class samples, and recommendation letters. A panel of nationally known educators, business leaders and other experts lead the review teams, evaluate the applicants, hold site visits, and recommend school programs for the model designation.


Golden LEAF funds rural urgent care to provide increased access to healthcare
Project will create 20 jobs,
cut costs for local businesses

With help from a $200,000 Golden LEAF grant, Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital transformed a vacant building in Jonesville into a healthcare facility that provides both urgent care services to the community and medical planning services for local businesses.

Within the first three weeks of opening, Hugh Chatham Urgent Care welcomed 11 new employees, cared for 350 patients and provided health screenings for more than 700 employees for a local employer.

Hugh Chatham Memorial Urgent Care Ribbon Cutting Event

The hospital board, facility staff and members of the community participated in the ribbon cutting event for the Hugh Chatham Memorial Urgent Care and Corporate Care facility held on January 25, 2015.

"The Golden LEAF grant was a huge part of this project," said Mary Blackburn, Senior Vice President of Operations and Chief Practice Officer at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital. "It would have been a financial stretch for us without it. With this facility, we are able to meet the needs of the community and provide excellent quality care."

The idea for the dual facility came from the local business community, who needed help with healthcare management. Part of the problem was that employees were using the hospital's emergency room for primary care needs. The new urgent care center is designed to serve acute-care as well as primary care patient needs to help reduce unnecessary emergency room visits, said Blackburn.

The facility's healthcare providers are already working with one local employer, Phillips Van Heusen (PVH) Corporation, to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, enhance employee morale, and attract and retain high-quality employees.

Human Resources Director at PVH Mike Norman was instrumental in the concept of creating a corporate care facility and providing the availability of an urgent care facility, said Blackburn.

"We were tasked with an initiative by our corporate office to figure out a way to lower healthcare costs, particularly the use of the emergency room," said Norman. "One option was to set up a clinic inside our facility, but we were not comfortable with taking on healthcare as part of our operations."

Norman had a conversation with one of the Hugh Chatham Memorial Board of Directors, J.L. Lowe, about the healthcare initiative. Lowe indicated that the hospital was already considering a new urgent care location. The Hospital decided that Jonesville made the best sense for the new facility.

"We were extremely pleased that they were open to hearing what our needs were and taking care of them," said Norman. "The corporate care has already provided a health fair with obesity mass index testing, blood sugar testing, blood pressure testing, and other screenings, all to help educate our employees on preventive healthcare."

Dr. Joseph Zastrow, physician for and head of the urgent care center, knows how to provide services for workplace healthcare.

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital

Pictured are (from left) Michael Keller a physician's assistant at the center and Dr. Joseph Zastrow a doctor and the head of the facility.

"Dr. Zastrow has worked with some of our workers compensation cases," said Norman. "The workers report very positive interactions with Dr. Zastrow. I think it is very helpful that he has an occupational medicine background."

Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., the urgent care center offers onsite lab, x-ray, drug screen, procedure rooms and a cast room. Hours will be extended on weekdays until
7 p.m. starting April 13, 2015.

Questions about Golden LEAF?
Please contact Mark Sorrells at

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

Message from the
Dan Gerlach

Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President

The "LEAF" in Golden LEAF stands for "Long-Term Economic Advancement Foundation." While Golden LEAF has made grants since inception, we have not forgotten the need for the long-term view. By investing the Master Settlement Agreement payments entrusted to us, rather than immediately spend them, the Foundation has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in investment income to pay for most of the grants and all of the costs of running the Foundation.

By keeping dollars invested for the good of North Carolina, the Foundation is able to make major commitments to incent large projects that move the needle, such as biotechnology manufacturing training, aerospace manufacturing, middle-mile broadband, and -- hopefully -- an automobile manufacturing plant as is described to this column's left.

By keeping dollars invested, the Foundation has the patient capital to build North Carolina's future workforce, whether through award-winning STEM initiatives for middle schoolers or through funding the latest in welding technology for a community college with documented employer needs.

By keeping dollars invested, we not only have the wherewithal to assist with an auto assembly plant, but we have the statewide reach to fund the gaps needed to land a Sheetz distribution facility in Alamance County and start an incubator with broad community support in Elizabeth City.

By keeping dollars invested, we have the opportunity to make grants in physical infrastructure, such as the completion of an urgent care center serving workers along I-77 in Yadkin County or in one of the several communities that the Board is contemplating for the upcoming Health Care Workforce Initiative.

You can read about the incredibly diverse projects hinted at above throughout this newsletter.

It is a simple fact. The challenges facing rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed communities in our state need different types of investments to help move them forward. It's not small nor large companies that are the key to economic success, but both.

It is not funding for STEM in high school OR in college that solves our workforce issues, but both. The Foundation can create new wealth through its investments. The sooner that the General Assembly restores annual payments to the Foundation, the sooner we can put that wealth to work for the citizens of the state.

Thank you for your support and interest.


Dan Gerlach can be contacted by
e-mail at


College of the Albemarle, Golden LEAF cut ribbon on new welding lab
Golden LEAF provides $350,000 grant to increase skilled welders in Northeastern N.C.

On February 10, 2015, Golden LEAF staff attended the opening of the College of the Albemarle's (COA) new welding lab on the Pasquotank campus. Enhancements to the welding lab were necessary to help the college meet regional demand for welders which is estimated at approximately 175 positions over the next three years. Upgrades have allowed the College to increase its enrollment from 10 welding students to 48, now that it has increased space and the number of welding booths available for training.

COA - Ribbon Cutting

At the ribbon cutting, Senior Vice President of the Golden LEAF Foundation Mark Sorrells (second from left) presented COA President Kandi Deitemeyer and other officials with a ceremonial Golden LEAF check.

Welding jobs are available at companies in the region that specialize in agriculture, boat and ship maintenance and repair, as well as aviation companies supporting the U.S. Coast Guard. Many of these companies struggle to find skilled workers. Norfolk Naval and Newport News ship yards employee over 3,000 welders and are constantly recruiting individuals for positions.

COA has recently placed two students in welding jobs.

Upon completing the program, Kelsey Randolph landed a job and is currently welding on a new roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., said Mike Lopes, welding instructor at COA.

Welder - Kelsey Randolph

Kelsey Randolph recently finished the welding program at COA, where he gained valuable training time on diverse equipment.

Jamal Mullen, 24, completed the college's welding program at the beginning of February. He is now employed by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard under its apprenticeship program.

Mullen was able to simultaneously complete his GED and the welding program. He attributes a large part of his success to his instructors.

"My welding instructor, Mr. Lopes, was a great instructor who taught me well," said Mullen. "Ms. Saunders taught me math and how these principles apply to what I'm doing in welding."

COA welder Jamal Mullen and other welding students and teacher

Pictured are (from left) welding student Crystal Dennison, Welding Instructor Mike Lopes, GED instructor Dorothy Riddick-Saunders, welding student Brian Pierce and welding student Jamal Mullen. Mullen is now an apprentice at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

Prior to the Golden LEAF grant, the college had limited welding equipment and space.

At the ribbon cutting event celebrating the opening of the welding lab, COA officials said the new lab has helped grow the program.

COA welding students

Several students enrolled in the COA welding program join Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Behind the students are the new welding booths.

"We start with the students. That's why we're here every day," said Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, COA President. "Now they have the chance to train with the best technologies. The best there is."

The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded the COA welding lab grant under a special grant program, Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing Initiative.

The initiative was created to support targeted occupational and technical training programs that prepare students for identified employment opportunities in advanced manufacturing and other high-wage technical occupations. The initiative, working in partnership with N.C. community colleges, is helping to close the skills gap by increasing the number of highly skilled, technical workers in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities in N.C.


Elizabeth City incubator supports six new or expanding businesses
Golden LEAF grant
helps open facility

Renaissance Square, a business incubator in downtown Elizabeth City, has signed leases with four tenants in its newly opened facility and is finalizing paperwork with two others. The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to River City CDC in support of phase I of Renaissance Square.

Javon Boutique

From left, Ann Taylor of Jovon's Boutique is signing a lease for space at the Renaissance Square Incubator with Lenora Jarvis-Mackey President/CEO of River City CDC.

The 7,000-square-foot business incubator was formed to support emerging entrepreneurs with the temporary space and the tools they need to build up their business in order to succeed on their own.

"The incubator is designed to serve startup and business expansions," said Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, President/CEO of River City CDC. "We have signed four two-year contracts with mom and pop businesses that operate out of homes or in store fronts and that didn't have the leap of faith to go out on their own."

The incubator is home to a mother-daughter operation, said Mackey. The daughter sells evening wear, and the mother is the seamstress at Sew Fine Fashions. A coffee shop with Wi-Fi access, a women's clothing retail store, and a smoothie shop are currently moving into the facility. The smoothie shop doubles as an art lessons operation, said Mackey.

"Things are going great in the new space," said Bea Bea Long-Harrell of Sew Fine Fashions. "We have already attended a workshop at Gateway Bank and received information on all the services that the incubator will offer through its partners."

Sew Fine Fashions

Bea Bea Long-Harrell of Sew Fine Fashions has moved into her space at the incubator and her custom-made evening wear business is expanding to include retail clothing and accessories.

River City CDC collaborates with other agencies to help provide instruction and business support in the areas of bookkeeping, marketing, inventory control and other important business operation practices.

"The incubator focuses on the individual business needs," said Mackey. "We help with strategic plans and provide a needs-analysis and a holistic approach to business development. We provide the technical assistance they need to make their businesses successful."

The city is helping by promoting and fostering local entrepreneurship. Once businesses leave the incubator, they will further bolster the economy and make room for new entrepreneurs to find their footing at Renaissance Square.

"We are hoping to be a feeder to mainstream downtown," said Mackey. "Downtown is starting to come back."

"I was born and raised three blocks down the street," said Long-Harrell. "I am thrilled to be here and to have my daughter working with me. It's like coming home."


Golden LEAF News Links

Golden LEAF News

Golden LEAF News - March 2015

Golden LEAF News - Feb 2015

Golden LEAF News - Jan 2015

Golden LEAF News - Dec 2014

Golden LEAF News - Nov 2014

Golden LEAF News - Oct 2014

LEAF Lines

LEAF Lines - past editions archive


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The Golden LEAF Foundation   301 N. Winstead Avenue   Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone 252-442-7474   Toll-free 888-684-8404   Fax 252-442-7404   Email

© 2015 Golden LEAF Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved