SITE Program FAQ and Glossary

This page will continue to be updated while the application period is open, so please check back or sign up for notifications here. This page was last updated on January 12, 2024.

Glossary of Frequently Used Terms

Community zoning—A description of the community’s zoning ordinance and allowable uses. Includes a statement regarding any community restrictions such as impervious surface or runoff protections due to regulated environmental conditions.

Eligible applicants—Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit organizations. Golden LEAF will accept applications from organizations in all counties, but will prioritize awards within counties that have been persistently economically distressed (as demonstrated by County Tier status determined by the N.C. Department of Commerce) and in economically distressed, rural and tobacco-dependent communities.

Industrial development—Industrial development includes manufacturing, assembly, and similar uses, and warehousing and distribution. Commercial, retail, office, and residential uses are not included.

Leveraged contributions—Leveraged contributions are contributions from organizations other than matching contributions. Leveraged contributions include, for example, awards from other funders or in-kind contributions. Leveraged contributions are not required, but Golden LEAF prioritizes leveraging other funding sources in all of its programs.

List of area utility service providers—A list of water, sewer, electric, gas, and communications providers that serve the area that is the subject of the application.

Match requirement—There is no match requirement for the Identification phase. In the Due Diligence and Development phases, there is a match requirement of 15% of the Golden LEAF grant amount for projects in certain counties. Click here for a list of those counties. The match may be a cash match or it may be the value paid to acquire control of the property, provided the expenses to acquire control were incurred within five years before the project application is submitted to Golden LEAF. The match may be a contribution from the applicant or from any local governmental entity in the county in which the project is located. Counties and communities and organizations located within counties that have a required match may submit a letter requesting a waiver or reduction of the required match. This letter should be submitted as an attachment to the application.

Minimum acreage—There is no minimum acreage for this program. The buildable area of a site under consideration must be adequate to address the economic development strategy of the community. Golden LEAF will consider the amount of the request in light of the size of the property under consideration, i.e., smaller awards are expected for smaller sites.

Maximum funding—Golden LEAF funding awarded for the Due Diligence phase is not expected to exceed $50,000 for most projects. The maximum funding available for the Development phase is $1.5 million.

Public control—Public control means an option, contract, or similar agreement that provides the Golden LEAF grantee, or an eligible entity with which the grantee is collaborating, the right to purchase marketable, fee simple title to the site for a determined price. The agreement must be binding on the property owner and the agreement, or a memorandum of the agreement, must be recorded with the Register of Deeds in the county in which the property is located. The term of the agreement must extend at least five years, and the term must begin no earlier than six months prior to the Golden LEAF grant award. If an applicant does not have control of the property at the time of the grant application, it should have reached an agreement with the landowner at the time of the application. This agreement must be presented to the Golden LEAF Foundation in writing.

Public ownership—Public ownership means marketable fee simple title held by the Golden LEAF grantee or another eligible entity with which the grantee is collaborating. If an applicant has not acquired title to the property at the time of the grant application, it may do so after a grant is awarded. In that case, the applicant should have reached an agreement to acquire title to the property with the landowner at the time of the application.

Rail service—Information showing whether or not rail service is available to the site. If there is no rail service on site, but the applicant contends that the site could be rail served, please provide a letter from the railroad confirming that service is available.

Site control by an eligible entity—See Public control and Public ownership.

Sites offered for industrial development—Sites offered for industrial development include sites that are publicly owned or publicly controlled and marketed by the applicant. Golden LEAF will prioritize applicants that do not have other publicly owned or controlled sites in the county in which the applicant is located.

Site specific zoning—Information showing the site is zoned suitable for industrial development. This information may include showing that the site is zoned for industrial development or that there is no zoning in the community.

Title opinion—An opinion of title given to the applicant or another eligible entity with which the applicant is collaborating, regarding title to the property. The title opinion must be completed by an attorney licensed in North Carolina, experienced in searching titles, and approved by at least one major title insurance company. The opinion should include copies of all instruments and documentation used to develop the title opinion, e.g., deeds, estate files, etc.

Utilities will serve lettersAcknowledgement of service area, system capacity and average utilization, and any planned improvements to the system and the total capacity when improvements come on line for water, sewer, electric, gas, and telecommunications.

How much funding is available?
Golden LEAF has budgeted $12.5 million for the program this fiscal year which will be awarded in two rounds: Fall 2023 and Spring 2024.

Will there be another opportunity to apply for funding in the SITE Program?
Yes. Golden LEAF intends the SITE Program to be an ongoing program. As with any Golden LEAF program, we will evaluate potential changes with each cycle.

Will an applicant have to reapply if it does not receive funding in one round and wants the request to be considered in a subsequent round?
If an application is not funded in a round, the applicant will have to reapply for the project to be considered in subsequent rounds. The applicant may update or modify the application prior to submission in subsequent rounds.

If a project receives funding for one phase, e.g., Identification, can the applicant submit a later request for another phase, e.g., Due Diligence?
Yes, Golden LEAF expects that projects may progress from one phase to the next, though funding for one does not imply a commitment to provide funding for another.

Are Tier 3 counties and communities in those counties eligible for this program?
Governmental entities and 501(c)(3) organizations within all North Carolina counties are eligible to apply for funding from the Golden LEAF SITE Program. The Golden LEAF Board will prioritize awards to projects located in rural and economically distressed counties. Certain counties will be required to provide matching funding for Due Diligence and Development phase projects. See additional information regarding the match requirement on this page.

How did Golden LEAF determine which counties would be required to provide matching funding?
Counties that have had a Tier 3 ranking in at least three of the past five years are required to provide a match. The list will be updated on a rolling basis each calendar year when new rankings are released. Whether a match is required is determined at the date of the application.

Does Golden LEAF fund site development costs through other programs?
Yes, Golden LEAF will fund site development through other grant programs. Please see for more information. If you have a question about which program is best for your project, contact Golden LEAF staff to discuss options.

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