The Golden LEAF Foundation, a North Carolina grant-making organization, helps eligible state, regional and local economic development entities with job creation projects in tobacco-dependent or economically distressed areas of the state.

Before you apply, we encourage you to speak with the Golden LEAF staff to discuss the details of your project.

Golden LEAF offers three grant programs that can address infrastructure needs:

Golden LEAF Grant Programs

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Used for site identification; due diligence; public infrastructure; clearing and rough grading (publicly owned sites only)

Through the SITE Program, Golden LEAF will provide support to communities to identify potential sites for economic development as well as funds to enable completion of due diligence on sites already identified.  The program can also help extend public utilities to a site or conduct rough grading and clearing of sites for which due diligence has been completed.

Organizations can begin the process at any of the three phases, and a site may progress from identification through the development phase over time.

  • SITE Program – Identification offers support to identify potential industrial sites in communities that do not currently have quality industrial sites to market.
  • SITE Program – Due diligence offers funding to complete eligible due diligence activities such as environmental assessments, archaeological analyses, and mapping.
  • SITE Program – Development offers funding for public infrastructure and, for publicly owned sites, clearing and rough grading, to benefit sites that have completed the due diligence necessary to demonstrate that the site is suitable for development.

Each phase of the SITE Program uses a unique application. Visit the Golden LEAF website using the links above to navigate to the specific phase information, where you'll also find a link to the unique application portal for each.

For more information, visit

Used for public infrastructure; clearing and rough grading (publicly owned sites only)

Golden LEAF will consider applications to assist eligible state, regional and local economic development entities with funds to support permissible activities in projects in which a company will commit to create a specific number of full time jobs in a tobacco-dependent or economically distressed area. You are strongly encouraged to contact the Golden LEAF staff to discuss your potential projects and conditions that may be applicable before you apply.

Economic Catalyst Program Guidelines:

  • Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organizations.
  • Applications in this program must be for projects that will lead to job creation by a specific company that will commit to create full time jobs if Golden LEAF provides a grant for the project.
  • An application for funding must be submitted before the project announces its decision to locate and create jobs in North Carolina.
  • Competitive applications will include information showing that the expected job creation is AT RISK without Golden LEAF support. An applicant can demonstrate that a project is AT RISK by identifying a funding gap that exists that would significantly impair the applicant’s ability to attract the anticipated jobs if Golden LEAF does not make a grant for the project.

Examples of other factors that may be considered to determine whether a project is AT RISK without Golden LEAF support include:

  • evidence of urgency for financial assistance necessary to facilitate job creation;
  • whether local governments have provided support for the project at levels that are appropriate in light of available resources. (Golden LEAF funds will not be available to satisfy shortfalls resulting from local policies limiting local support for a project.); and
  • whether the applicant has secured or attempted to secure funding for the project from other sources such as the State of North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the federal Economic Development Agency (EDA), the Appalachain Regional Commission (ARC), and others.

Proposals for Economic Catalyst projects should be coordinated with the other economic development entities, including:

  • North Carolina Department of Commerce,
  • the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and
  • local and regional economic development organizations.

Applicants must identify specific charitable, educational, or scientific uses for Golden LEAF funds, as defined by Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, that are directly related to the project. Golden LEAF may require the applicant to demonstrate that the company that will commit to create the promised jobs is obligated to repay a pro rata amount of the grant if there are job creation shortfalls. Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Funding for costs associated with public infrastructure improvements, such as water and sewer, that are needed for the project.
    • Golden LEAF funds may not be used for construction of infrastructure on private property or for privately owned infrastructure;
    • When Golden LEAF funds are used for infrastructure costs, Golden LEAF will typically require evidence of an inducement agreement demonstrating that the company is obligated to meet the job creation projections and wage goals, and providing appropriate consequences should the company fail to satisfy its obligations; however, Golden LEAF usually does not require a clawback specifically for the Golden LEAF grant funds.

Economic Catalyst proposals may be submitted throughout the year.

For more information visit,

Used for public infrastructure; clearing and rough grading (publicly owned sites only)

The Open Grants Program allows applicants to apply for Golden LEAF funding throughout the year. Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Priority Funding Areas
This program is for economic development projects aligned with the Golden LEAF priority areas. More details regarding Golden LEAF’s priority areas and priority outcomes are available at the links below:

The Golden LEAF Foundation is committed to using the funds entrusted to it for projects that show the most potential for strengthening North Carolina’s economy, especially in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities.

Amount Available:
Most awards in the Open Grants Program will be for $200,000 or less. For projects that possess some of the additional characteristics described below, Golden LEAF may make awards of up to $500,000 from this program. Most awards from this program will be $200,000 or less.

To determine which projects will be eligible for consideration for an award of more than $200,000, Golden LEAF requires that the project include one or more of these characteristics:

  • Higher level of funding will lead to significant outcomes
  • Result of a planning process involving multiple organizations and members of the community
  • Building on a history of success that allows a project to scale and significantly increase outcomes
  • Funding will enable or encourage compelling collaboration including: uncommon or innovative approaches or organizations in more than one county
  • Funding will leverage significant funding from other organizations
  • Applicant has limited resources
  • The project cannot be implemented in phases without compromising its outcomes

Applicants who wish to apply for more than $200,000 in funding from the Open Grants Program must complete a required consultation with Golden LEAF staff.

For more information visit,