At the October 1, 2020 meeting, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded more than $5.5 million in funding to support job creation, leadership and capacity building, disaster recovery, and agriculture. The Golden LEAF Board allocated funds to be awarded through the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program for the 2021-2022 school year. The Board also welcomed new Board member Charles Brown and heard an update from Dr. Bill Carver, Interim President of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS).
“Golden LEAF invests in strengthening the building blocks of economic development,” said Bo Biggs, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “These awards will not only help create jobs but will drive long-term economic strategies through capacity building, scholarships for rural students, job creation, and support for our farmers.”
NCCCS Interim President Carver updated the Golden LEAF Board on the search for the new system president as well as work underway by community colleges to train and upskill the state’s workforce during the pandemic.
“We appreciate Interim President Carver’s update on the Community College System, one of the state’s most essential workforce training partners,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “Our state’s community colleges will serve as the catalyst for recovery, and Golden LEAF will continue to be a strategic partner as we move into the recovery phase.”
The Board approved two projects that will create 235 new jobs in Gaston and Moore counties through the Open Grants Program. The Open Grants Program supports economic development projects in the areas of workforce preparedness and education, economic investment and job creation, agriculture, and community vitality. Awards do not exceed $200,000 through this program. Open Grants Program funding was awarded to the following projects:
- $200,000 to Bessemer City in Gaston County to construct infrastructure required to achieve sufficient and consistent water supply from Gastonia’s Two Rivers Utilities. This capacity is necessary to add 200 new manufacturing jobs at Dhollandia and support existing businesses in the South Ridge Industrial park.
- $200,000 to Moore County Partners in Progress to purchase testing equipment for the United States Golf Association’s (USGA) new research and testing center in Pinehurst. The Golden LEAF award is part of a larger project that leverages funding from the state as well as other public and private partners. The USGA will create 35 new jobs and hold four additional U.S. Men’s Open events in Pinehurst, resulting in a significant regional economic impact.
The Golden LEAF Board awarded $2,581,584 to the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (NCSEAA) to fund the Golden LEAF Scholars Program for the 2021-2022 school year. Since 2000, Golden LEAF has provided rural students with scholarships to attend North Carolina’s four-year colleges and universities. Next year, 215 new scholarships valued at $12,000 over four years of attendance will be awarded. NCSEAA administers the Golden LEAF Scholars Program for both new and renewal scholarship recipients. Applications will go live in December and are due by March 1, 2021.
Leadership and Capacity Building
The Golden LEAF Board awarded $150,000 to the North Carolina Rural Center to support leadership and capacity-building outreach in the Western Prosperity Zone. This program will help prepare the region in advance of Golden LEAF’s $11 million Community-Based Grants Initiative, which will launch in 2021. Counties in this zone include: Buncombe, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, and Transylvania. More information will be available on the CBGI in the Western Prosperity Zone in early 2021.
Services for Farmers
The Board awarded $2,093,377 to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) to purchase equipment to enable new and expanded services provided by NCDA&CS at its new Agricultural Sciences Center. Golden LEAF funds will leverage more than $117 million in state investment for programs that will directly benefit N.C.’s farmers. These new and enhanced services, including a faster turnaround for results, will enhance farm operations across the state.
The Board approved additional funds for three previously awarded Disaster Recovery Grant Program projects totaling $335,999.72 to support recovery from Hurricane Florence in Onslow, Pamlico, and Robeson counties. Following Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Dorian, state legislators appropriated a total of $114.5 million to the Golden LEAF Foundation for recovery efforts. The aid helped repair or replace equipment and infrastructure damaged or destroyed by these storms, as well as providing loans for small business recovery. Disaster project that received increased funding include:
- $10,749.72 to the Town of North Topsail in Onslow County for engineering expenses related to repair of the town park.
- $50,000 to the Olympia Volunteer Fire Department in Pamlico County to enable paving of the new fire station’s driveway.
- $275,250 to the Pembroke Rescue Squad in Robeson County for additional construction expenses for the replacement rescue squad station.
Over two decades, the Foundation has funded 1,904 projects totaling more than $1 billion. Golden LEAF’s 15-member Board of Directors is appointed by the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House. Charles Brown of Albemarle was welcomed as the newest member of the Board at the October meeting. Mr. Brown was appointed by the Governor by virtue of his role as the Chair of the Rural Infrastructure Authority.