This summer has been filled with opportunities to explore exciting projects and strengthen our partnerships across the state. Our staff has visited grantees and applicants from Dare County in the east to Hayesville in the west. We have reviewed proposals for projects that will create new jobs, help communities recover from Hurricane Florence, and provide training for our rural workforce. These efforts culminated in the Board awarding grants totaling over $3.68 million at its meeting earlier this month.
As a funder of economic development projects, we meet regularly with other organizations with similar missions to efficiently leverage resources available to create economic growth. I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the NC Rural Infrastructure Authority and provide an update about our grants and the search for our next president. The Chair of the Rural Infrastructure Authority Chair, Tommy Hester, is also a Golden LEAF Board member and is featured in this edition of Golden LEAF News. Mr. Hester is a County Commissioner in his home of Vance County and has served the state in ways that have made an immeasurable difference in rural North Carolina.
The support we receive from our partners allows Golden LEAF to more effectively pursue our mission and support projects that create jobs in regions of the state that have the greatest need. We often collaborate with organizations such as the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the North Carolina Community College System, and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC). In this edition of Golden LEAF News, we highlight the work of the NC Department of Commerce and of EDPNC in Q&As with Secretary of Commerce Tony Copeland and EDPNC CEO Chris Chung.
A job creation grant that you will read about in this edition of Golden LEAF News is the culmination of the work among EDPNC, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Johnston County, the Town of Four Oaks, Golden LEAF, and others to bring 161 jobs to Four Oaks. In June, Golden LEAF awarded a grant of $500,000 to fund construction of the water and sewer infrastructure necessary to attract the largest independently owned Ashley HomeStore licensee, Broad River Retail, to the area. Broad River Retail will be opening a corporate campus, a retail store, a distribution center, and a call center at its new site.
One of the best parts of working for Golden LEAF is getting to share in the celebration of the success of projects we have funded. I recently attended the grand opening of the new Erlanger Primary Care, Express Care, and Specialty Care clinic in Hayesville. This is the first new medical facility in Clay County in 20 years. Golden LEAF’s grant for the project, together with support from the Building Reuse program of the North Carolina Department of Commerce and from others, helped add 12 new jobs to the area, including a family practitioner and other medical professionals.
While passing through Brevard on my trip in western North Carolina, I stopped by the headquarters of Sylvan Sport and toured its facility. (They were very welcoming even though my visit was unannounced and came at the very end of the workday!) Sylvan Sports creates camping trailers and outdoor accessories – a great fit for the area – and has 15 employees. Golden LEAF helped this project by providing a grant to Transylvania County for construction of the building in which Sylvan Sports now leases space.
Back in eastern North Carolina, I stopped by Craven Community College training sites that show a single college pursuing two complementary workforce development strategies. On the college’s main campus, I toured its Advanced Manufacturing Center, which provides specialized training in a variety of disciplines from metalworking to composites. I also visited its newly opened VOLT Center in downtown New Bern, which addresses the training needs of the community in which the center is located. Both are important workforce development assets for the area, and I am glad Golden LEAF has been able to provide support for them.
I look forward to staying connected to you in the coming months as the Golden LEAF Foundation continues to work for rural North Carolina communities.
Ted Lord, Acting President