Golden LEAF Board announces 47 projects totaling $16.1 M in funding, names Johnathan Rhyne Board Treasurer

Funding will support job creation, workforce development, disaster recovery


ROCKY MOUNT, N.C., (June 4, 2020) – Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors announced $16.1 million in funding for 47 projects across five program areas. Awards include an economic development project that will create 403 jobs, support for 15 new or enhanced workforce development programs, and 30 projects to support disaster recovery and resiliency.

“Golden LEAF is dedicated to the long-term economic advancement of North Carolina,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “In this time of uncertainty, it is important for our Board and staff to be a steady hand in supporting our nonprofits and governmental entities who help grow North Carolina’s economy in the communities we serve. The projects awarded today will help create new jobs in rural areas, get people to work in available jobs, and prepare communities for recovery from natural disasters.”

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $2,200,000 to Rockingham County to construct a 500,000-gallon elevated water tank needed to provide sufficient water pressure for the Ontex Group. This project will create 403 jobs in Rockingham County. Although this project was announced ahead of the Golden LEAF Board action, the project was eligible under Golden LEAF’s Economic Catalyst program.

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $3.5 million to support 10 projects through the Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) initiative. These programs will support innovative workforce development programs in Buncombe, Cumberland, Cleveland, Forsyth, Halifax, New Hanover, Pasquotank, Person, and Wilkes counties.

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors voted to approve four projects totaling $665,000 to support critical workforce development programs in Beaufort, Brunswick, Columbus, and Harnett counties. These projects were awarded through the foundation’s Open Grants Program.

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors approved two projects totaling more than $1.8 million through the Community-Based Grants Initiative in the Sandhills Prosperity Zone. These projects will support workforce development and infrastructure in Montgomery and Richmond counties.

The Board also approved 30 projects totaling more than $7.9 million to support recovery from Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Dorian. These projects support repair or replacement of infrastructure or equipment or construction of new infrastructure for hazard mitigation in Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Johnston, Moore, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Robeson, Tyrrell, and Wayne counties. The Disaster Recovery Grant Program is funded through appropriations by the State of North Carolina to the Golden LEAF Foundation to make grants to governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to repair or replace infrastructure and equipment damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Michael, and Dorian.

Over two decades, the Foundation has funded 1,885 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. Today, Johnathan Rhyne of Lincolnton was voted the Treasurer of the Golden LEAF Board of Directors. Mr. Rhyne was appointed by the Speaker of the House in May of 2012 and served as Board Chair in 2014-2015.

Please see the link to download an excel spreadsheet of the 47 June 2020 awards totaling $16.1 million. The projects receiving funding are serving the following counties: Beaufort, Brunswick, Buncombe, Carteret, Cleveland, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Forsyth, Greene, Halifax, Harnett, Hyde, Johnston, Montgomery, Moore, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Person, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Tyrrell, Wayne, and Wilkes counties. Pender, Davie, Stokes, and Yadkin are supported through regional projects based in other counties.

About Golden LEAF
The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. For 20 years, Golden LEAF has worked to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grantmaking, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.

The Foundation has provided lasting impact to tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and rural areas of the state by helping create 65,000 jobs, over half a billion dollars in new payrolls and more than 84,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.

About Golden LEAF Programs

Economic Catalyst
The Economic Catalyst Program assists eligible state, regional and local economic development entities with projects to support permissible activities in which a company will commit to create a specific number of full-time jobs in a tobacco-dependent or economically distressed area.

Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW)
The Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) special initiative was launched in January 2020 intended to address the urgent workforce issues facing North Carolina. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the unemployment numbers in the state, there is still a great need to educate and train a qualified workforce. It is projected that by 2030 67% of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or credential. On its current trajectory, post-secondary educational attainment will only reach 54%. As such, increasing the number of people in the workforce, especially for jobs requiring a post-secondary degree or credential, is necessary for North Carolina’s economic vitality.

Open Grants Program
Golden LEAF’s Open Grants Program is for economic development projects in the areas of economic investment and job creation, workforce preparedness and education, agriculture, and community vitality. Grant awards do not exceed $200,000 under the Open Grants Program.

Community-Based Grants Initiative (CBGI)
Golden LEAF’s Community-Based Grants Initiative is a competitive initiative that focuses on grantmaking in a region annually and is designed to identify projects that are ready for implementation and have the potential to have a significant beneficial effect. The CBGI culminates with funded projects that address the areas of economic development, agriculture, workforce preparedness and education, infrastructure, or health care infrastructure. Awards are limited to up to three projects per county and total no more than $1.5 million per county. Regional projects are also considered under this program with a maximum of $1.5 million per regional project.

Disaster Recovery Grant Program
The Disaster Recovery Grant Program is funded through appropriations by the State of North Carolina to the Golden LEAF Foundation to make grants to governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to repair or replace infrastructure and equipment damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Michael, and Dorian. Funds may also be used to construct new infrastructure for hazard mitigation. To date, Golden LEAF has awarded more than $103 million in disaster recovery projects from the $114.5 million in state appropriations for the program.

To learn more about the Golden LEAF Foundation, visit



Jenny Tinklepaugh
Communications Officer
Office 252.442.7474
Mobile 252.801.1370

Stay Connected

Stay connected with Golden LEAF by signing up for our e-newsletter. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.