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LEAF Lines - Spring 2014 Edition


RCC Forte Building Dedication

Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF President, (center holding check) presents a $474,000 ceremonial check to Richmond Community College President, Dr. Dale McInnis, (far left) and other college officials to support the advanced manufacturing programs in the new Forte Building.

Golden LEAF supports new training center at Richmond Community College
Golden LEAF President presents check at dedication ceremony

On February 18, Richmond Community College held a dedication ceremony for its new industrial training center, the Forte Building. At the event, Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach presented a $474,000 check to support advanced manufacturing training at the center. Golden LEAF has supported the project with two grants totaling just under $1 million.

"We are very appreciative of the support of the Golden LEAF Foundation," said Dr. Dale McInnis, RCC president. "Without their investment in Richmond Community College, we would have a much more difficult time meeting the changing needs of our students and industry partners."

In September 2009, Golden LEAF awarded a $500,000 Community Assistance Initiative (CAI) grant to the college for the construction of a state-of-the-art industrial training center. The facility is helping the college to significantly expand its science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs. The Forte Building will also serve the Richmond County Economic Development Office as a recruiting tool for new business and industry, as well as support the expansion of existing local businesses and industries.

Under the CAI, Richmond County considered workforce training a high priority. Olivia Webb, Executive Director of the Richmond Community College Foundation, participated in the Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative process.

"The Community Assistance Initiative process resulted in a great feel of buy-in, support and democracy," said Webb. "The process as a tool went well beyond Golden LEAF's meeting purposes. The community talked about a shared vision, and it not only required accountability of us but fostered a lot of community pride."

RCC also applied for an Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing (ESAM) grant. This initiative provides equipment to support building a skilled workforce for identified local manufacturing jobs. In December 2013, Golden LEAF awarded RCC a $474,000 ESAM grant to help strengthen the engineering and industrial technology programs offered in the Forte Building. RCC will purchase equipment to enhance the College's technical training capabilities in manufacturing automation and programmable logic controllers.

RCC Advanced Manufacturing

Amir Niczad, Chair of the Industrial & Engineering Department at RCC, (left) talks with Mark Sorrells, Senior Vice President of Golden LEAF, about the Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing project.

RCC Engineering Department Chair Amir Niczad talked with Senior Vice President Mark Sorrells before the ceremony about about the upgraded advanced manufacturing equipment that the recent Golden LEAF grant will provide. He explained the need for upgrading their current equipment.

"Automation and systems integration training is critical to the success of our next-generation workforce in the manufacturing sector," said Niczad. "For Richmond and Scotland counties to remain competitive and to attract new industry to the area, we must keep our training programs up-to-date. The equipment purchased through this project will ensure that RCC continues to be capable of providing quality training for careers in advanced manufacturing."


Swain County organizations receive $2.2 million in grants Projects will boost workforce training, public infrastructure, education

In December 2013, Golden LEAF presented three ceremonial checks to organizations serving Swain County at an event at Southwestern Community College (SWCC). The checks were presented as a result of the Swain County Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative (CAI) process. Approximately $2 million was awarded to organizations in the county with projects affecting workforce training, public infrastructure, and education. At the event, Golden LEAF announced that the college will receive an additional $220,000 from an Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing grant.

SWCC was awarded an $859,780 grant for a high tech training center in Swain County. The project will support the creation of an advanced manufacturing workforce training program. In response to needs identified by local industry, SWCC is creating a mechatronics training program with automation and robotic lab equipment. At the ceremony, Golden LEAF Vice President of Programs Patricia Cabe announced that SWCC was awarded a collaborative Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing Initiative grant with Tri-County Community College for $470,000. SWCC will receive $220,000 from the grant to purchase additional advanced manufacturing training equipment, which will support and expand its manufacturing training programs.

SWCC Training Center

On December 13, 2013, Golden LEAF Vice President Patricia Cabe (second from left) presents Southwestern Community College officials with a ceremonial check for the new training center.

"We're excited about the partnerships we've created and communication lines we've opened," Don Tomas, President of SCC said. "Receiving these grants is a game-changer for SCC and our service area."

Chris Davis, General Manager of ConMet in Bryson City, also attended the event. He said he is pleased to see the college supporting advanced manufacturing.

"Think about the kids coming through high school right now who are wondering what they're going to do with their lives. They have an option to get more technical training here. That's going to allow us to stay here five, 10, 15, 20 years or longer."

Chris Davis
ConMet General Manager, Bryson City

Swain County Schools received an $827,000 CAI grant for the project "Destination Graduation." The project will provide all students in 4th-8th grade with digital devices in order to strengthen 21st Century literacy and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Teachers will receive professional development for technology instruction. The goal is to help create a pipeline of high school graduates with the skills and knowledge to be able to move directly into employment or college upon graduation.

Swain County Schools

Patricia Cabe (left) presents Swain County Schools officials with a ceremonial check at the December 13, 2013 event at SWCC.

"The Golden LEAF grant opens opportunities for Swain County students to explore and learn through STEM curriculum in our classrooms," said Sam Pattillo, Superintendent of Swain County Schools. "STEM will prepare our students for the growing technological advances in the 21st Century."

Bryson City also secured a $300,000 CAI for the project "Downtown Block Infrastructure Replacement." The project will assist with the replacement of aging water and sewer infrastructure in downtown Bryson City. The project will help replace a section of the town's oldest distribution system. The upgraded infrastructure will help reduce operating costs, increase revenues and extend the capacity of the water and sewer plants.

"The Golden LEAF grant will help improve the water and sewer system in the redevelopment area," said Larry Callicutt. "We are grateful for the grant."

Swain County was one of 46 counties across the state that participated in the Golden LEAF Community Assistance Initiative that spanned from 2007 to 2013. The Initiative culminated in the awarding of 198 grants totaling more than $88 million.


Golden LEAF awards 2 grants to renovate, expand Benson Area Medical Center
Projects help create 9 new jobs, provide new services, increase number of new patients served

In September 2013, Benson Area Medical Center (BAMC) finished renovations to its medical facility that helped create 9 jobs, expand services and see a higher volume of patients, thanks in part to two Golden LEAF grants. The two Rural Hope grants were awarded in 2009 and 2012 and total $129,165. The nonprofit medical center, located in Benson, provides primary health care services to residents of Johnston, Harnett, and Sampson Counties.

The projects supported renovations that allowed the center to expand to serve a growing number of patients and to do so more efficiently.

"The Golden LEAF Foundation grant was a catalyst for us in making needed improvements to our facility and in expanding our patient access," said William W. Massengill, Jr., CEO of the BAMC, Inc. "The Golden LEAF funds provided for renovations to the reception area allowing for better patient flow and access. In addition we were able to relocate all of non-clinical support staff to this newly renovated area resulting in the creation of three additional patient exam rooms."

BAMC Front Desk

BAMC front desk staff work in the newly renovated reception area.

The additional space has created room for a variety of new services at BAMC. Three new exam rooms are now furnished with a bariatric exam table, which allows the providers to do full examinations on bariatric and wheelchair bound patients. One of the new jobs created was a nurse triage position. This position helps the center by being able to triage phone calls and assist patients who come in with urgent medical needs. Another new position was created to assist patients with obtaining medications through the pharmaceutical assistance program.

"We could not have made these changes without the Golden LEAF Foundation," said Massengill. "The recent renovations have created space for the addition of another medical provider."

Dr. Mooring

(From left) Medical Director Dr. Eugene H. Maynard, Jr. and Dr. Vicky Mooring show one of the new exam rooms, made possible in part by a Golden LEAF grant.

The most recent physician hire was Dr. Vicky Mooring, who joined the staff in August 2013. Her position was created as a result of the recent renovations. Dr. Mooring went to Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. She completed her residency training in Akron, Ohio. As a native of NC, she is excited to be back in the state.

The 2009 and 2012 grants supported the creation of the following jobs: two family physicians, a Parm.D., three certified medical assistants, a referral coordinator, a triage nurse, and pharmaceutical assistant. BAMC provides primary care, lab, x-ray, and clinical pharmacy services on site. The center has seen approximately 150 new patients per month since the renovations were completed in September 2013.

The Rural Hope Initiative was designed to enable better health care delivery and job creation by assisting in the construction and expansion of rural health care facilities.


Golden LEAF helps yarn manufacturer retain jobs
Project also supports NC cotton industry, Port of Wilmington

A Golden LEAF grant to Lee County has supported a project that benefits the NC cotton industry, helps a manufacturer retained jobs, and gives the state's ports new business. The $999,999 Economic Catalyst grant provided Lee County the ability to purchase and lease pallets to Frontier. The project required the yarn manufacturer to retain 1,014 jobs and purchase over 165,000 bales of NC cotton. The company's headquarters is in Sanford, and it has four plants, two each in Sanford and Mayodan.

Frontier ships its yarn for processing overseas. The pallets Frontier was using were too big for the ships that come to call at the NC ports. The company was therefore shipping out of ports in Florida and Louisiana. The cost of transporting their goods to these ports was a considerable expense. Consequently, Frontier was considering moving its production facilities closer to the Gulf of Mexico. The move would have cost NC more than 1,000 jobs.

The grant provided Lee County the ability to purchase a large quantity of smaller pallets that it leases to Frontier Spinning Mills. With these pallets, Frontier is able to ship from the Port of Wilmington, which saves the company money, lowering the cost of its product.

Frontier has also recently been able to start another production line, creating approximately 10 more jobs, and investing several million dollars more in equipment, said Lee County Manager John Crumpton.


Frontier Spinning Mills employee is loading yarn placed in returnable plastic pallets for shipment.

In addition to saving over a thousand jobs and supporting NC ports, the Golden LEAF-funded project also supports the cotton industry. The grant requires Frontier to purchase over 165,000 bales of cotton from NC growers per year. In 2013, Frontier purchased 204,707 bales of NC cotton, which is 28% of its total cotton commitment for the year and almost 40,000 bales over the required amount.

Another way the Golden LEAF grant is supporting economic development is through a revolving loan fund the county set up for the lease payments it receives from Frontier. As part of the grant agreement, Lee County can use the fund to help with other permissible economic development projects.

"The Golden LEAF grant has helped us create new jobs and investment in Lee County," said Crumpton. "The low-interest loans also have favorable repayment terms. That gives us a new tool that makes us unique and gives us a competitive advantage when it comes to economic development opportunities."


Message from the
Dan Gerlach

Agriculture. Manufacturing. Health Care. Education. These are the cornerstones of the North Carolina rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed communities that the Golden LEAF Foundation was created to transform. In this issue of LEAF Lines, you can read about our recent efforts to strengthen these sectors.

The Foundation has made more grants in agriculture than any other sector. Read about an effort to broaden markets through North Carolina's Farm to School program. Learn about Frontier Spinning, one of our largest manufacturers, and a substantial buyer of North Carolina cotton. Tying together agriculture products and the manufacturing that processes those goods is a crucial component to long-term success.

We know, too, that manufacturing is coming back to North Carolina in old and new ways. Especially with new technology, employers report challenges to find qualified workers. Read about our efforts across North Carolina in Richmond and Swain counties to assist community colleges to respond to that challenge through our Community Assistance Initiative and Essential Skills for Advanced Manufacturing program. Our hope is that this will drive down our unemployment rate and put people back to work as fast as possible.

Health care, both as an employer and as part of our infrastructure, cannot be left behind. Benson Area Medical Center has hired more staff and sees more patients in southern Johnston County with the help of Golden LEAF grants.

Read about Taj Nasser, a Golden LEAF Scholar from Wilson County, who wants to serve as a physician in rural North Carolina and has successfully been admitted to medical school. Keeping North Carolina's talent close to home will help us all.

To develop that talent, North Carolina needs the strongest education system possible. Swain County is a leader in integrating technology into the classroom, with the simple but important goal in the project title, "Destination Graduation."

Golden LEAF's work is more important than ever. The steps we have taken are necessary, but not sufficient, to make rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed North Carolina communities the places we all want them to be.


Dan Gerlach can be contacted by
e-mail at


Golden LEAF funds program to support future NC doctors
Golden LEAF scholar attends summer program, accepted into medical school

As of Spring 2014, East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine's (BSOM) Summer Program for Future Doctors has helped 21 North Carolinians get accepted into medical school, thanks in part to a Golden LEAF grant. In 2012, Golden LEAF awarded a $50,000 grant to East Carolina University to help fund the program for the summers of 2012 and 2013.

The program helps underrepresented and nontraditional NC students to increase their access to medical school. Each summer had 25 participants interested in applying to medical school.

For nine weeks in the summer, participants get to experience the culture of medical school, said Dr. Richard Ray, Director of the Summer Program for Future Doctors. The students participate in a multifaceted curriculum. Students take first year medical school courses such as anatomy, biochemistry, neuroscience and physiology; participate in physician job shadowing; experience medical simulations; and learn or improve upon a variety of other skills from study habits to bedside manner.

Future Doctors Program at ECU Brody School of Medicine

Participants in the Summer Program for Future Doctors get to experience many aspects of medical school, like using simulation equipment to learn more about the human body.

Over 62% of past graduates of the program that attended medical school are now practicing primary care physicians in NC, and data indicates that program graduates are more likely to practice in economically disadvantaged areas of the State, said Ray.

The program covers tuition, and participants receive a stipend for living expenses. The Summer Program for Future Doctors was created in part to be a pipeline program for the BSOM, which in the past 20 years has only admitted students who are permanent NC residents.

BSOM recently established a permanent line of funding that will ensure that the program will continue in the future. Dr. Ray credits the Golden LEAF Foundation grant as being a major factor in that decision.

Taj Nasser from Wilson was a 2013 Summer Program for Future Doctors participant. He is a 2010 graduate of Fike High School and received the Golden LEAF Scholarship to attend East Carolina University. He is a senior, pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry.

Taj Nasser and Dr. Richard Ray

Dr. Richard Ray presents Taj Nasser with his completion certificate at the Summer Program for Future Doctors graduation ceremony.

Nasser is a first generation college student who decided as a freshman to participate in the Golden LEAF Scholarship Leadership Program, a leadership training and internship program offered only to Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients. He has attended all four years of the leadership program. Nasser attributes the scholarship and subsequent leadership opportunity to his success in reaching his goals.

"After my freshman year leadership workshop, I became more involved in school activities and more extraverted," said Nasser. "I began goal setting and became a more organized and committed individual. The program really helped me achieve the goals to get to where I am today."

Nasser applied to medical school at ECU's BSOM and the UNC School of Medicine. He recently heard that he was accepted at BSOM and is waiting to hear from UNC.

"I am really lost for words on how grateful I am to Golden LEAF and the Center for Creative Leadership. The Golden LEAF Scholarship really does change lives. I believe that the contribution to the youth is one of the smartest investments that the Foundation can make to help the economy grow."

Taj Nasser
Golden LEAF Scholar
Summer Program for Future Doctors

Nasser plans to be a physician in rural NC upon completion of medical school and his residency.

Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program

Dan Gerlach (front row, second from left) joins Taj Nasser (top row, middle) and other senior participants in the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program at their last winter leadership conference on January 2014 in Greensboro.


Golden LEAF supports local foods for NC schools
Farm-to-School program uses grant to purchase cooler for expansion

In May 2013, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) completed the installation of an industrial drive-in cooler in Salisbury for the NC Farm-to-School Program, thanks to a $154,822.30 Golden LEAF grant.

The 30'X60' cooler will help expand the program by providing additional food storage capacity. The added capacity will allow more schools and more farmers to participate in the program. This spring will mark the first full year of the cooler's use.

Salisbury Cooler

NCDA&CS Salisbury Warehouse staff are transporting crates into the large cooler provided by a Golden LEAF grant.

The NC Farm-to-School Program was formed in 1997 to develop a system for schools across the state to receive fresh produce grown by local farmers. In 2013, 95 different schools participated in the program.

Each schools' child nutritionist can choose to be a part of the program. NCDA&CS provides information on what foods are available and when. NCDA&CS handles the bidding process, purchase orders and deliveries. The NCDA&CS has trucks that pick up produce from the growers and deliver it to a central location for each school district. There is no delivery charge, just the cost of the produce.

"We are proud to be a part of the program and a part of the whole buy local movement," said Ted Fogleman, Assistant Director, Food Distribution for NCDA&CS. "We are glad to be able to provide an additional outlet and choice for our schools. Having the infrastructure with trucks, trailers and now another large-capacity freezer helps us provide fresh items for kids to enjoy."

F2S Franklin County Presentation

On March 5, 2014, NCDA&CS staff visited with Franklin County students to talk about NC produce.

Produce that schools can buy through the program include strawberries, watermelons, cantaloupes, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, red and green cabbage, broccoli, and blueberries, among other fruits and vegetables. Growers participating in the Farm-to-School program range in location from Madison County in the west to Pasquotank County in the east. Through the program, NCDA&CS buys from 23 growers directly, but many of the farmers source from other farms. Each participating farmer has to be Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified, which is a certification of safe food practices.

There are two warehouse locations for NC's Farm-to-School Program: one in the Butner-Creedmoor area and one in Salisbury. Golden LEAF funded a cooler for the Salisbury location, which was previously using refrigerated trucks to store its produce.

"The new cooler provides a level of food safety since the produce is no longer stored on a trailer over the weekend," said Fogleman. "Also, the capability to increase the volume of sales is in place, since we can now store much more food."

So far, sales are projected to meet last year's total and possibly exceed that amount, said Fogleman. The long winter can affect harvests and therefore the amount and kind of produce available.

For more information on the program, visit


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