Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Third Round of Funding Available from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund New application period opens for popular rural economic development program

Raleigh, N.C.
Mar 22, 2023

A third opportunity opened today for local governments in North Carolina’s rural areas to once again apply for a Rural Transformation Grant.  The popular grant program from the Department of Commerce helps communities overcome challenges that limit their economic competitiveness. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division administers the $48 million grant fund.

Starting today and running through May 3rd, Commerce will accept grant applications for local projects meeting the program’s criteria.  A pool of approximately $8 million is available during this third round of grantmaking.  Last year, Commerce awarded 72 grants from the fund, benefiting rural communities across the state.

“We’re pleased to offer this third opportunity to apply for these grants that can truly be transformative for a rural community,” said North Carolina Commence Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Our Rural Transformation Grants supply both resources and expertise to help rural areas become stronger, more vibrant, and resilient places to live and work.”

The Rural Transformation Grant Fund is the centerpiece of a broader Rural Engagement and Investment Program from Commerce which addresses a wide variety of needs, from revitalizing downtown districts, building the capacity of local government staffs, revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering small business recovery, and generally supporting economic growth initiatives.

The Rural Transformation Grant Fund awards grants in four categories:

  • The Downtown Revitalization category supports downtown development initiatives that help grow and leverage a community’s commercial core into an asset for economic growth and prosperity.
  • The Resilient Neighborhoods category offers grants focused on community development and quality of life improvements, such as eliminating food deserts, creating healthy living initiatives, and increasing access to affordable housing options, among other initiatives.
  • The Community Enhancements for Economic Growth category provides grants to local governments to smooth the way for economic development opportunities, such as the acquisition of land and buildings, the preparation of business sites, and the removal of structural and physical barriers that may be limiting development.
  • The Rural Community Capacity (RC2) category provides educational programming, technical assistance, and focused guidance to local government staff in rural and distressed communities.  RC2 is currently offered in partnership with Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business.

The application deadline for the fourth component of the program, the Rural Community Capacity (RC2) category, is April 24th.

“Helping communities make the necessary preparations that lead to economic growth is the core of our team’s work,” said Kenny Flowers, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development.  “We’ve seen how impactful these Rural Transformation Grants can be, and we look forward to reviewing more creative proposals from local leaders across the state.”

Information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, including access to the online application, is available at

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