Golden LEAF Board awards $2M in funding, adopts long-term strategic plan, hears update on economy

Golden LEAF Board awards $2M in funding, adopts long-term strategic plan, hears update on economy

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C., (February 4, 2021) – Today, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $2,099,350 for workforce training and infrastructure projects to support economic growth in rural areas of the state. The Board also adopted its long-term strategic plan and received a presentation from Tom Barkin, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

“The Golden LEAF Board is pleased to adopt a strategic plan to help guide the Foundation’s work to move the economic needle in rural, economically distressed communities,” said Bo Biggs, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “We remain committed to the mission of the Foundation and look forward to implementing the plan over the next several years. While much has been accomplished over Golden LEAF’s two decades, much is left to do.”

Chairman Biggs established a working group to lead the strategic planning process comprised of Golden LEAF Board members Barry Dodson (Rockingham), Tom Taft (Pitt), and Lawrence Davenport (Pitt).

Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer Scott T. Hamilton said the Foundation is excited to get to work on implementing strategies to help address some of the economic challenges facing North Carolina and highlighted by President Barkin.

“The goal of the strategic planning process was to help Golden LEAF become more effective, efficient, and impactful,” said Hamilton. “I would like to thank the Board for their hard work over the last several months to develop the plan. We look forward to beginning implementation as we remain focused on the long-term economic advancement of North Carolina.”

The result of this process is a plan that reaffirms the mission of Golden LEAF, prioritizing job creation, capital investment, workforce preparedness, and agriculture. Strategies identified include regional thinking and actions, and expansion of funding to incorporate additional best practices in rural economic development.

The strategic plan builds on the current and prior work of Golden LEAF to support rural leadership development and capacity building. Golden LEAF recently launched the next phase of a partnership with the NC Rural Center in support of the Golden LEAF’s regional Community-Based Grants Initiative. In the coming year, Golden LEAF and the NC Rural Center will be working in the Western Prosperity Zone

The NC Rural Center will support organizations working to broaden the leadership base, enhance community and regional collaborations, and develop strategic, innovative projects to transform the economy. At the end of the process in the fall of 2021, the region will be better equipped to compete for national, state, and private resources, including strengthening the quality and reach of proposals.

Today, the Board funded two projects to address workforce training gaps and create economic investment opportunities in rural communities.

East Carolina University received funding to expand its ability to train students in pharmaceutical manufacturing and address a regional need for pharmaceutical manufacturers with four-year degrees. The Board approved an award of $1,899,350.00 for equipment and personnel. Students will be able to receive a four-year degree from ECU without leaving their home communities. Training will also be available for professional development to incumbent employees. Companies could use the lab equipment to develop and test new manufacturing processes. ECU is working with Thermo Fischer and Novo Nordisk and partnering with Pitt, Johnston, and Wilson Community colleges in the first two years of the program.

The Board approved funding for infrastructure improvements to help increase economic development opportunities in Onslow County through the Open Grants Program. The Town of Holly Ridge received $200,000.00 to provide stormwater infrastructure for the 60-acre Phase II of the Camp Davis Industrial Park, located in the Town of Holly Ridge. The Open Grants Program supports economic development projects in the areas of workforce preparedness, economic investment and job creation, and agriculture. 

Over two decades, the Foundation has funded 1,915 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
jtinkle[email protected]

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