Southeastern North Carolina has a unique opportunity this fall to leverage an available $11 million to be awarded by the Golden LEAF Foundation for projects that will boost job creation and economic investment, workforce preparedness, and agriculture.
The 12 counties that make up the state’s Southeast Prosperity Zone are the focus of the Golden LEAF Foundation’s region-specific effort to lift the economy. The Community-Based Grants Initiative (CBGI) targets one Prosperity Zone per year and is designed to advance local projects ready for implementation.
Organizations located in or serving the 12 counties in the Southeast Prosperity Zone are invited to register for the official kick off meeting planned for March 29, 2022 in Goldsboro.
Identifying the right projects that will significantly benefit the region and have a long-lasting economic impact is a foundational first step in maximizing these awards. CBGI focuses on projects that bring local economic development, workforce and education, agriculture and industry leaders around the common cause of creating jobs. Most successful projects are collaborative, strategic, scale up to benefit more than one community, and provide a clear path to employment opportunities.
The Southeast Prosperity Zone last participated in the CBGI process in 2016. The Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $8.2 million in funding to support 15 projects in the priority areas of job creation and workforce preparedness.
In August 2016, the Golden LEAF Board awarded $702,000 through the CBGI to James Sprunt Community College (JSCC) to construct a paved practice area for a new truck driver training program. The program is helping to address an identified need for more than 400 commercial truck drivers at a variety of companies in southeastern North Carolina, including food processing, agricultural, manufacturing, and construction businesses.
Since the program began in 2019, JCSS has helped 65 students obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) license with 55 students being employed in the truck driving field upon program completion.
The truck driver training program also complements JSCC’s diesel mechanic program, allowing graduates of the mechanics program an opportunity to receive licensing needed to drive many of the vehicles they repair.
In June 2016, the City of New Bern was awarded $549,000 by the Golden LEAF Board through the Community-Based Grants Initiative to renovate an existing city building to create a one-stop workforce development training center, The Volt Center. The Volt Center opened in July 2019. The large, open space provided a flexible and adaptive environment.
The Volt Center has trained more than 1,000 students. Of those trained, 164 students reported receiving job offers before completing. Not only does the Volt Center attract students looking for jobs, but employers looking for good employees are finding the solutions they have been needing at the training center as well.
The Volt Center was a collaborative project receiving Golden LEAF funding, $1.298 million in Economic Development Administration funds, and $310,000 from the City of New Bern. An additional $50,000 in support came from the Craven 100 Alliance, with $25,000 matching funds from the Harold H. Bate Foundation.
These success stories are the result of collaboration, planning, and rallying together around the challenging work needed to help regions make significant strides toward economic growth.
CBGI’s focused process culminates with grants targeted toward investments to grow economic development. Awards are typically limited to 1-3 projects per county and total no more than $1.5 million per county. Not all counties in the region are guaranteed to receive funds. Click here for more information and to sign up for email updates for the CBIG process in the Southeast Prosperity Zone.