Wednesday, February 28, 2024

New Rural Grant Program Launched to Support Downtown Economic Development Commerce’s Rural Division now accepting applications

Raleigh, N.C.
Feb 28, 2024

North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders today announced a new grant program to support the revitalization of downtown districts in the state’s rural communities.  The Department’s Rural Economic Development Division is now accepting applications from local governments for the Rural Downtown Economic Development Grant program.

Grants will be awarded by the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority beginning with its April 2024 board meeting and the initial application period for these grants closes at 5:00pm on Monday, April 1, 2024.

"The Commerce Department, through our Main Street and Rural Planning Center, has for many years been a hub of knowledge and support for downtown business districts,” said Secretary Sanders.  “I’m so pleased we’re now able to combine our technical expertise with this new source of financial support for rural downtowns across the state.”

The new Rural Downtown Economic Development Grants will support public improvements that help retain business and attract customers to rural business districts.  The program can support publicly owned downtown economic development initiatives that leverage main streets and downtown districts as economic engines, as well as help facilitate publicly owned building improvements that are used for community-wide uses or mixed-use development in or on properties that are publicly owned and controlled.

Eligible activities might include improvements to public infrastructure such as lots, alleys, streetscapes, waterfront developments, and parks.  Renovations or additions to public buildings in a downtown district, such as a community or recreation center, a theater, or a library could qualify for grants, as could projects involving publicly owned property zoned and developed for a mix of uses, such as retail, restaurant, or nonprofit uses.

Complete guidelines for the Rural Downtown Economic Development Grants are posted on the Commerce website. The maximum grant amount per awardee is $850,000 and may not exceed $12,500 per projected job created or retained.  Grant administration costs are limited to 5% of the awarded grant total, and applicants must provide a cash match equivalent to at least 5% of the grant amount, with the source of these local matches not derived from other State or Federal grant funds.

“The North Carolina Main Street program is one of the leading downtown development programs in the United States, and our entire rural planning team stands second to none,” said Kenny Flowers, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Rural Development. “Downtown districts are one of the most important economic engines for any rural community, and Commerce looks forward to superpowering these vital hubs of economic growth.”

More information about the Rural Downtown Economic Development Grant program can be found at

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