October was an eventful month at the Foundation. Golden LEAF officially turned 20 years old on October 22, 2019. We will continue to celebrate this major milestone in the Foundation’s history through the end of the year. We are grateful of the forethought of the leaders who created a Foundation to provide economic development support for our state, especially in our rural communities. To date, Golden LEAF has awarded 1,789 grants totaling $880,089,006 in areas including economic development and job creation, workforce preparedness and education, and agriculture. You can learn more about our grants by using our grant search feature or by visiting our social media pages on Twitter or Facebook and viewing our #LEAFprints.
November marks another important milestone in the Foundation’s history. On November 11th, the Foundation officially welcomed its third president, Scott T. Hamilton. Scott has a long history of working in economic development in North Carolina and on the national level with the Appalachian Regional Commission. While many of our grantees, fellow funders, and other partners already know Scott, his schedule is full with meetings across the state over the next several weeks so he can meet or reconnect with leaders. In fact, in his first week, Scott has already helped cut the ribbon on the NC Food Innovation Lab, a state-of-the-art facility at the NC Research Campus in Kannapolis that focuses on helping industry develop new plant-based foods and products, creating new businesses and markets for North Carolina crops.
In this edition of Golden LEAF News, learn more about the NC Food Innovation lab, its partners and how it will work to increase food manufacturing in North Carolina and be a valuable asset to our agriculture industry and farmers. Golden LEAF awarded a $2.2 million equipment grant for the lab. NC State University, the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the NC Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of NC, and the NC Research Campus are partners in this collaborative effort focused on researching and developing safer, more nutritious crops, healthier foods and precision nutrition.
NC Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler served as the master of ceremonies for the NC Food Innovation Lab ribbon cutting. We asked Commissioner Troxler to provide us with more insight into the agriculture industry’s economic impact on our state as well as how the NC Food Innovation Lab will help grow the economy. His insights are also included in this newsletter.
We also feature a Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumnus from Rockingham County. Jonathan Mills is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and returned to Rockingham County after graduation, where he currently lives and works. Learn more about Jonathan in our Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni Spotlight.
Throughout October, Golden LEAF staff has attended events hosted by our grantees:
- Golden LEAF Board member and past Chairman Johnathan Rhyne attended the opening of a regional wastewater treatment plant in Gaston County funded in part by a $858,000 Golden LEAF Community-Based Grant Initiative grant. The new plant will both regionalize wastewater treatment for several communities, but also will allow Pharr Yarns in McAdenville to connect to public infrastructure and close its private wastewater facility, reducing costs and retaining approximately 900 jobs.
- Program Director Marilyn Chism attended Isothermal Community College’s opening of its Agribusiness Clinical Site, which Golden LEAF supported with a Community-Based Grant Initiative grant of $717,884 in 2016.
- Program Officer Barbara Smith attended the opening of Weitron, which packages refrigerants at an industrial park in Martin County. Golden LEAF supported this project with a Community Assistance Initiative grant in 2011 to the county for the shell building, which the county sold to Weitron for this project,, and with a 2018 grant of $200,000 to the county to extend rail service in the park to serve Weitron and other tenants.
- I attended the opening of a $40 million wastewater pretreatment plant in Clayton that will serve a $2 billion expansion of Novo Nordisk. The company will create 700 jobs. Golden LEAF contributed $4 million for the project. The project is a great example of a public private partnership, with Novo Nordisk constructing the plant and then transferring ownership of the completed plant to the town. This arrangement allowed the plant to be completed more quickly and inexpensively than if the town had built the plant itself. The facility is constructed at a scale and in a location that will allow other users to tie into it.
I enjoyed keeping you all informed of Golden LEAF’s activities these past six months and am proud to turn this column over to our new President Scott T. Hamilton. I look forward to staying connected to you in my role as Senior Vice President/ Staff Attorney.
Ted Lord, Senior Vice President/ Staff Attorney