Thursday, June 17, 2021

Governor Cooper announces Grants to Rural Communities to attract 820 New Jobs and more than $264 million in private investment N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority approves almost $5 million in funding

Raleigh, N.C.
Jun 17, 2021

The North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 11 grant requests to local governments totaling $4,989,034, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. The requests include commitments to create a total of 964 jobs, 144 of which were previously announced. The public investment in these projects will attract more than $264 million in private investment.   

“Companies of all sizes are finding success in North Carolina’s resilient rural communities,” Governor Cooper said. “Rural Infrastructure grants are helping our communities make improvements to water, sewer and buildings, so they can continue to grow and create good jobs.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s team of rural economic development professionals supports the RIA’s work. RIA members review and approve funding requests from local communities. Funding comes from a variety of specialized grant and loan programs offered and managed by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division, led by Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Kenny Flowers. Grants can support a variety of activities, including infrastructure development, building renovation, expansion and demolition, and site improvements.

“I remain committed and optimistic about rural North Carolina’s future, and with these grants, we will continue to support critical broad-based economic recovery that lifts up our rural communities,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders said. “Our Rural Economic Development Division and the Rural Infrastructure Authority are proud to collaborate with leaders of counties, cities and towns to facilitate opportunities for growth, because rural North Carolina matters to the entire state!”

The RIA approved six grant requests under the state’s Building Reuse Program in two categories:

Vacant Building Category

  • Duplin County: A $150,000 grant will support the reuse of a 63,100-square-foot building in Wallace, where eGourmet Solutions, a logistics company specializing in order fulfillment and transportation services for temperature-sensitive projects such as refrigerated and frozen foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, plans to locate. The company expects to add 40 jobs and invest $500,000 in its overall expansion project, with 20 jobs and an investment of $423,963 tied to this grant. 
  • Gaston County: A $175,000 grant will support the reuse of a 50,000-square-foot building in Gastonia. Polykemi Manufacturing, LLC, a family-owned producer of plastic compounds, plans to make this location its first production facility in the United States. Through this project, the company expects to create 22 jobs while investing $11,692,000.

Existing Business Building Category

  • City of Mebane (Alamance County): A $500,000 grant will support the expansion of a building that is occupied by Lotus Bakeries, LLC, which produces caramelized cookies and a variety of other baked goods and snacks. The overall project is expected to create 90 new jobs with an investment of at least $62 million by the company, while 86 jobs and an investment of $59,500,000 are tied to this grant.
  • Buncombe County: A $300,000 grant will support the renovation of a 15,000-square-foot building in Asheville that is occupied by East Fork Pottery, LLC. The company, which manufactures and sells ceramic dishware, plans to create 61 jobs while investing $945,091 in the project.
  • Rowan County: A $500,000 grant will support the renovation of a building in Salisbury that is occupied by Agility Fuel Solutions, LLC, a manufacturer of compressed natural gas fuel systems for trucking and transit vehicles. The company plans to add 113,000 square feet to the existing property, while creating 75 jobs and investing $28,562,493 in this project.
  • Rutherford County: A $160,000 grant will support the expansion of a building in Spindale that is occupied by Fountain Electric, LLC, an electrical construction and service contractor. The company, which provides residential, commercial, and industrial electrical services, plans to add 30,000 square feet to the existing facility. The project is set to create 32 jobs, with an investment of $1,085,500 by the company.

The Building Reuse Program provides grants to local governments to renovate vacant buildings, renovate and/or expand buildings occupied by existing North Carolina companies, and renovate, expand or construct health care facilities that will lead to the creation of new jobs in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties and in rural census tracts of Tier 3 counties.

The RIA approved four requests under the state’s federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) - Economic Development program:

  • Town of Mocksville (Davie County): A $250,000 grant will support the construction of a 30,000-square-foot manufacturing and office facility by Liberty Storage Solutions near the company’s current location. The company designs and manufactures portable sheds and outdoor buildings. Grant funds will help the Town with a sewer extension that is needed as part of the first phase of the company’s expansion. This project is expected to create 50 jobs, with an overall investment of $8 million by the company.
  • City of Statesville (Iredell County): A $1 million grant will support a planned expansion by Doosan Portable Power, an industry leader in engineering, manufacturing and marketing of compact construction equipment, generators, air compressors, lighting systems and light compaction equipment. The company plans to purchase a parcel of land to accommodate a new, 500,000-square-foot manufacturing building with an additional 80,000 square feet of space for warehousing. Grant funds will help the City with construction of a new, 4,500-linear-foot water line for the facility. The company expects to create 102 jobs and invest $41,358,835 in this project. 
  • Town of Smithfield (Johnston County): A $1,250,000 grant will support infrastructure for a new, 600,000-square-foot facility, at which Amazon, the Seattle-based e-retailing pioneer, will operate a distribution and fulfillment center. The project consists of public sewer and road improvements by the Town to serve this new facility and future expansions. The company expects to create 500 jobs while investing $100 million in this project.
  • Lenoir County: A $120,000 grant will support demolition and repair work related to the renovation of a vacant, 255,000-square-foot building in Kinston, where Crown Equipment is expanding its operations. The company manufactures a line of high-quality lift trucks, including electric and internal-combustion models. The overall project is expected to create more than 130 jobs and represents an investment of $13.2 million by the company, while 16 of those jobs are tied to this grant.

The Community Development Block Grant program is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program administered in part by N.C. Commerce. CDBG’s economic development funds provide grants to local governments for creating and retaining jobs. Project funding is based on the number of jobs to be created and the level of economic distress of applicant communities.

The RIA approved one request under the state’s Industrial Development Fund - Utility Account program:

  • Ashe County: A $584,034 grant will help the County support a newly-created, 41-acre industrial park. Grant funds will contribute to the cost of sewer, water and industrial access at this critical site, enhancing its potential for future economic development.

The Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account provides grants to local governments located in the 80 most economically distressed counties of the state, which are classified as either Tier 1 or Tier 2. Funds may be used for publicly-owned infrastructure projects that are reasonably expected to result in new job creation. The IDF – Utility Account is funded through a process tied to the state’s signature Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program. When JDIG-awarded companies choose to locate or expand in a Tier 2 or Tier 3 county, a portion of that JDIG award is channeled into the Utility Account.
In addition to reviewing and approving funding requests, the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority formulates policies and priorities for grant and loan programs administered by N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development team. Its 17 voting members are appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tem. The North Carolina Secretary of Commerce serves as a member of the Authority, ex officio.

For additional information about N.C. Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division, visit

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