Golden LEAF Board awards $2.4M in funding, elects board officers and committee chairs, works on development of strategic plan

Golden LEAF Board awards $2.4M in funding, elects board officers and committee chairs, works on development of strategic plan

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C., (December 3, 2020) – Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded more than $2.4 million in funding to support agriculture, economic development, entrepreneurship, capacity building, and disaster recovery through projects across North Carolina. The Board also heard from its strategic planning consultants on the results of outreach and data gathering efforts launched over the summer. The Board is expected to adopt a strategic plan in the first quarter of 2021.

“Golden LEAF is developing a strategic plan to help guide the next three to five years of our work to move the economic needle in rural, economically distressed North Carolina,” said Bo Biggs, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “This Board-led process included input from former Golden LEAF Board members, leadership throughout the state, and community stakeholders. We remain committed to the mission of the Foundation and look forward to identifying opportunities to increase the impact of our work.”

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors elected board officers and committee chairs for the 2021 calendar year at its December meeting.

Board Officers

  • Chair of the Board – Murchison “Bo” Biggs of Robeson County
  • Vice Chair of the Board – Don Flow of Forsyth County
  • Treasurer – Johnathan Rhyne, Jr. of Lincoln County
  • Secretary – Bobbie Richardson of Franklin County
  • Assistant Secretary – Johnathan Rhyne, Jr. of Lincoln County

Committee Chairs

  • Programs Committee – Don Flow of Forsyth County
  • Personnel / Nominations Committee – David Rose of Nash County
  • Finance Committee – Jerome Vick of Wilson County
  • Investment Committee – Lee Roberts of Wake County
  • Audit Committee – Barry Dodson of Rockingham County

The officers and committee chairs assumed their roles effective at the conclusion of the Board meeting.

“The Golden LEAF Board is dedicated to the long-term economic advancement of North Carolina,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “As evidenced by the projects funded today, the Board is committed to supporting strategies that improve the economy in rural, economically distressed North Carolina. These projects will support strategies to build capacity in Tier 1 communities, grow entrepreneurship in rural counties, support best practices in agriculture, build a workforce to meet industry demand, and help communities devastated by natural disasters.”

The Board approved four projects for workforce training, agriculture, and economic development in Mitchell, Rutherford, Wake, and Halifax 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, and agriculture. Awards do not exceed $200,000 through this program. Open Grants Program funding was awarded to the following projects:

  • $200,000 to Mayland Community College Foundation in Mitchell County to design, renovate, and furnish an existing structure in Spruce Pine to establish a center to help launch new and grow emerging businesses in rural Mitchell, Avery, and Yancey counties. The center would serve as a technological hub and provide a range of business services including enhanced product development, prototyping, and marketing services not currently available.
  • $200,000 to Isothermal Community College in Rutherford County to help construct a covered arena to support the expansion of the college’s workforce training programs in agribusiness, equine business, and equine-assisted activities and therapy in response to student and industry demand. 
  • $198,843 to North Carolina State University in Wake County for personnel, travel, supplies, marketing, and meeting/workshop costs to help meat processors retool to address changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will also help farmers expand direct-to-consumer outlets and know-how, enlarging their resources to grow bulk sales through pricing education and technical assistance training.
  • $8,500 to the Enfield Economic Development and Revitalization Commission in Halifax County to support implementation of a component of the town’s economic development plan. This award follows funding to develop the plan provided through a past Golden LEAF special initiative.

The Board approved two initiatives totaling $1,482,964 to support agriculture and capacity building.

  • $989,418 to North Carolina State University for the Agricultural Institute, a 2-year program at NCSU that trains students for work in the agriculture industry. Funds will respond to the needs of the animal industry by expanding the pipeline of available talent for jobs. The Agricultural Institute will create an agriculture operations certificate, develop a food animal and poultry processing curriculum, provide internship support for students in Tier 1 and 2 counties, and develop a mentoring program.
  • $493,546 to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government for scholarships, consulting services, and other costs to provide professional development and advice to staff and elected local leaders of mayor-council municipalities from communities in Tier 1 counties to enhance their ability to attract investments, facilitate planning efforts, manage results-oriented development projects, and convene leaders and constituents.

The Board also approved increased funding for two projects totaling $331,608 to support recovery from Hurricanes Matthew and Florence. These projects support repair or replacement of infrastructure or equipment or construction of new infrastructure for hazard mitigation in Jones and Greene 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.

  • $325,000 increase of a prior award to Greene County to support the construction of the Greene County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
  •  $6,608 increase of a prior award to Jones County for the improvement of backup generators at critical water infrastructure.

Over two decades, the Foundation has funded 1,911 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. 

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
[email protected]

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