Golden LEAF announces $15.2 million in awards, leverages $14 million in other funds

Golden LEAF announces $15.2 million in awards, leverages $14 million in other funds

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C., (April 1, 2021) – Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $15.2 million in funding to support projects through the Community-Based Grant Initiative in the Northwest Prosperity Zone, Economic Catalyst Program, Open Grants Program, and Disaster Recovery Grant Program.

Golden LEAF Board member Lee Roberts of Raleigh announced his departure from the Golden LEAF Board effective at the conclusion of the meeting. Mr. Roberts was appointed to the Golden LEAF Board of Directors in December 2016 and was recently elected to serve on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Board member Ralph Strayhorn of Charlotte was elected to serve as Chair of the Investment Committee.

“We would like to thank Lee Roberts for his years of service on the Golden LEAF Board of Directors,” said Bo Biggs, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “Lee has served as our Investment Committee Chair and been an invaluable member of the Board. His commitment to the mission and expertise will be missed. We wish him well in his new role.”

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, the Golden LEAF Board awarded funding for projects that will support lasting economic investment in North Carolina,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “We are excited to be a part of bringing 725 new jobs to our state and to support 10 projects that will help build a skilled workforce for North Carolina employers.”

Under the Economic Catalyst Program, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $4 million to the Town of Holly Springs to upgrade a sewer pump station to provide the capacity necessary to support Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. This biomanufacturing company will locate a manufacturing facility in Holly Springs, make a capital investment of $1.5 billion, and create 725 new jobs paying average annual wages of $99,848. The laborshed for this project will span into rural and economically distressed counties in the biopharma crescent which includes Edgecombe, Johnston, Nash, Pitt, and Wilson counties.

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.

At this meeting, Golden LEAF awarded $7 million in funds that will leverage more than $14 million in funds committed by several partnering entities including the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Economic Development Administration (EDA), Connect NC Bond funds, the N.C. Department of Commerce, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as local funding.

Since early 2020, Golden LEAF has been working in the Northwest Prosperity Zone to implement the Community-Based Grants Initiative there. The NC Rural Center has assisted in the effort by providing technical assistance and coaching to organizations developing projects and seeking potential funding through Golden LEAF or other sources. Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded 14 Community-Based Grants Initiative projects totaling $9.6 million in the Northwest Prosperity Zone. These projects will support workforce preparedness, job creation and economic investment, public infrastructure, and agriculture in Alexander, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga, and Wilkes counties. Click here for the Community-Based Grants Initiative awards.

Golden LEAF’s Community-Based Grants Initiative is a competitive initiative that focuses on a region and is designed to identify projects that are ready for implementation and have the potential to have a significant impact. 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.

Under the Open Grants Program, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $1.07 million in funding for six projects in Alamance, Cleveland, Hertford, Duplin, Northampton, and Alexander counties. Golden LEAF’s Open Grants Program bolsters economic development projects in the areas of job creation and economic investment; workforce preparedness; agriculture; and community competitiveness, capacity, and vitality. Click here for the Open Grants Program awards.

The Board also approved $477,000 in additional Disaster Recovery Grant Program funding to existing projects in Bertie, Robeson, and Hoke counties. The Disaster Recovery Grant Program is funded through appropriations by the State of North Carolina to the Golden LEAF Foundation to award funds 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. Click here for the Disaster Recovery Program awards.

Over two decades, Golden LEAF has funded 1,932 projects totaling $1.1 billion. 

The Board of Directors adopted a resolution in support of the attainment goal of myFutureNC that two million North Carolinians should have a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030. The Golden LEAF Foundation along with leaders in business, education, state and local government, and community organizations will continue to foster partnerships to achieve the goal. The Board also received a presentation from Dr. Michael Walden, a distinguished N.C. State University professor and economist.

About Golden LEAF

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding 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 85,000 workers trained or retrained for higher wages.

For more information about Golden LEAF and our programs, please visit our website at


Jenny Tinklepaugh
Communications Officer
Mobile 252.801.1370
jtinkle[email protected]

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