In January 2020, the Golden LEAF Foundation launched its Community-Based Grants Initiative in the Northwest Prosperity Zone. The NC Rural Center assisted in the effort by providing technical assistance and coaching to organizations developing projects and seeking potential funding through Golden LEAF or other sources.
At the April 2021 Board meeting, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded funds for 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 outcomes in Alexander, Ashe, Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, McDowell, Mitchell, Watauga, and Wilkes counties.
Of the funds awarded, $6.8 million in Community-Based Grants Initiative funds will leverage more than $8.3 million in funds committed by several partnering entities including the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), Connect NC Bond funds, the N.C. Department of Commerce, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as local funding.
Learn about the projects funded under the Community-Based Grants Initiative in the Northwest Prosperity Zone by county:
- $460,000 to Catawba Valley Community College for equipment and software to support expanded training at Alexander Applied Technologies Center for incumbent and future industrial systems and mechatronics technicians for local, high-demand jobs.
- $500,000 to Ashe County for preconstruction and construction costs for an access road, a gas line, a water main, a gravity sewer main, and telecommunications infrastructure to support creation of a new 41.7-acre industrial park in Ashe County to address the county’s lack of suitable sites to market to prospective industrial companies.
- $500,000 to the Town of Drexel for demolition, clearance, and some sewer-related costs to help redevelop a former Drexel Heritage site into a shovel-ready industrial site. This rail-served site expects to attract an estimated $500 million in private investment.
- $500,000 to the Industrial Commons for training equipment, personnel, supplies and materials, and operating support to help small to midsize textile and furniture manufacturers be more resilient and profitable with increased market opportunities and for training to prepare potential and existing employees to earn credentials for sewing, craft furniture, and specialized yarn production.
- $1,098,000 to Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute for tools, equipment, wrapped truck and trailer, trainers, and parts to develop a regional Diesel and Heavy Equipment Technology program that would be the only diesel program serving Caldwell, Watauga, Burke, Catawba, and Alexander counties.
- $400,000 to Catawba County to help expand a county-wide revolving loan program to support public-private partnerships to develop spec buildings. The partnership is among landowners, developers, and local governments. Proceeds of the sale of the building are apportioned among the landowner, developer, and local government.
- $491,257 to Catawba County to construct a 3,200-foot sewer line to establish a 55-acre business park in fast-growing southeastern Catawba County, strategically located in proximity to Charlotte markets.
- $491,257 to the City of Hickory for public road construction and extension of a waterline within Trivium Corporate Center, a business park zoned for office and light industrial development, to support additional development and to improve access for existing tenants, including Corning Cable Systems and Cataler North America Corp.
- $800,000 to McDowell Technical Community College for renovation costs of a 4,000-square-foot building to house a satellite campus in Old Fort where students will receive certifications in construction and manufacturing.
- $531,908 to Mayland Community College Foundation to purchase and install an HVAC system that would serve the portion of the Three Peaks Enrichment Center at Mayland Community College in which the college will offer education and workforce training.
- $775,349.50 to the Town of Spruce Pine for engineering, construction, and legal costs, and contingencies to replace an obsolete asbestos and concrete six-inch waterline with an upgraded eight-inch waterline along the US Hwy 226 South corridor, providing higher water pressure to existing businesses and for future business expansion.
- $108,000 to Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (BRWIA) for personnel, equipment, supplies, a vehicle, and marketing costs to help BRWIA expand its delivery and distribution network by developing satellite pick-up locations for BRWIA’s High Country Food Hub online marketplace in Watauga and Ashe counties.
- $1,500,000 Wilkes Economic Development Corporation for design and site work and construction of a multi-tenant building for commercial or light industrial use on a 4.8-acre site owned by the EDC. The EDC would also offer ongoing mentoring, professional legal, accounting, and marketing consultations, and additional support from the SBTDC, SBC, and EDPNC.
- $1,500,000 to Western Piedmont Community College to construct a 30,000-square-foot Construction Trades Solution Center that would offer degree and certificate training programs in carpentry, masonry, electrical technologies, HVAC, plumbing, and green construction principles. Catawba Valley Community College will collaborate to serve students from Alexander and Catawba counties to help meet a projected regional shortage of more than 3,700 skilled construction workers over the next five years.
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.