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Gov. Roy Cooper Announces $8 Million in Rural Economic Development Grants for 29 Local Governments

Source: The Office of Gov. Roy Cooper

Nearly 30 local governments in rural areas across North Carolina were awarded grants that will help boost local economies, Gov. Roy Cooper announced earlier this month.

The grants come from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund (RTGF), which helps support rural economic development projects in the state. This was the third and final round of grantmaking from the RTGF and this time around, $8 million will be spread amongst 29 local governments.

“These transformative grants can make a real difference in rural communities by reviving downtowns and strengthening neighborhoods,” said Cooper in a press release. “These funds, with the support of our rural development team at the Department of Commerce, will bring more economic opportunity to people across the state.”

The RTGF, which is the centerpiece of a larger Rural Engagement and Investment Program from the N.C. Department of Commerce (NCDOC), was created to address various needs in rural communities.

The grants fund projects such as revitalizing downtown districts, building the capacity of local government staff, revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering small business recovery and generally supporting economic growth initiatives, according to the governor’s office.

The grants most recently awarded fell into these 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 Building (RC2) category provides educational and professional development opportunities for local government staff, with the additional ability for local governments to then ‘apply what they’ve learned’ by developing funding proposals for projects in their local areas.

The Fund was created in March of 2022 and has now awarded its total available funds of $48 million.

While that $48 million will certainly make an impact on many rural communities, the need was far greater than what was available to award.

According to the governor’s office, “local jurisdictions submitted for consideration projects totaling $165 million” since the Fund was established.

The NCDOC received project applications totaling $44 million during the third and final round of grantmaking but only had $8 million in funding left.

“The need in our rural communities is great, but I’m pleased we’ve been able to meet some of these needs with this transformative grant program,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders in the press release. “I’m proud of the program’s strong track record of success, managed by Commerce’s experienced rural development team and grounded in tried-and-true best practices that we know work well.”

“These economic development grants will bring new vitality to many rural communities,” said Kenny Flowers, the Commerce Department’s Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development. “I look forward to working with these communities as we work to transform the economy in rural North Carolina.”

Click here to read the governor’s press release, which includes information on which local governments will be receiving the grants and how much they will get.

To read details on each of the awarded projects, click here.

For more information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, click here.

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