Golden LEAF awards nearly $650,000 to three local storm recovery, mitigation projects

Money from Golden LEAF to fund storm recovery efforts

Staff report

LUMBERTON — Three disaster recovery projects in Robeson County are in line to receive a combined total of nearly $650,000 in funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

On Thursday, the foundation’s board of directors announced $16.1 million in funding for 47 projects across five program areas. Awards include an economic development project that will create 403 jobs, support for 15 new or enhanced workforce development programs, and 30 projects to support disaster recovery and resiliency.

“Golden LEAF is dedicated to the long-term economic advancement of North Carolina,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF president and chief executive officer. “In this time of uncertainty, it is important for our Board and staff to be a steady hand in supporting our nonprofits and governmental entities who help grow North Carolina’s economy in the communities we serve. The projects awarded today will help create new jobs in rural areas, get people to work in available jobs, and prepare communities for recovery from natural disasters.”

Recipients in Robeson County are the City of Lumberton, the Town of St. Pauls and the United Way of Robeson County.

“I want to thank Golden LEAF for these awards which are so desperately needed in my Senate district,” said state Sen. Danny Britt, a Republican from Lumberton. “Rural North Carolina has been devastated by hurricanes and these funds will help restore and recover some of the massive losses.”

Lumberton has been awarded $538,000 mitigation improvements of the raw water intake system, according to Britt. Improvements will include elevation of the generator and additional fuel storage to help maintain operation during major events.

The town of St. Pauls is set to receive $100,000 for the completion of a stormwater study, according to Britt. Recent hurricanes have resulted in increased stormwater issues throughout the town. A study will provide recommendations for improvements to alleviate frequent flooding.

The United Way of Robeson County was awarded $9,245.50 to repair the roof of the Robeson County Church and Community Center office in Red Springs, according to the senator. The roof was damaged by Hurricane Florence.

The Robeson County projects are among 30 approved projects, totaling more than $7.9 million, to support recovery from hurricanes Matthew, Florence, and Dorian, according to the Foundation. These projects support repair or replacement of infrastructure or equipment or construction of new infrastructure for hazard mitigation in Beaufort, Brunswick, Carteret, Columbus, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Hyde, Johnston, Moore, Onslow, Pamlico, Pasquotank, Robeson, Tyrrell, and Wayne counties.

The Disaster Recovery Grant Program is funded through appropriations by state government to the Foundation to make grants to governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to repair or replace infrastructure and equipment damaged or destroyed the three hurricanes, according to the Foundation.

Among the projects awarded funding by the Golden LEAF board of directors is $2.2 million to Rockingham County to construct a 500,000-gallon elevated water tank needed to provide sufficient water pressure for the Ontex Group. This project will create 403 jobs in Rockingham County. Although this project was announced ahead of the Golden LEAF board action, the project was eligible under Golden LEAF’s Economic Catalyst program.

The board awarded $3.5 million to support 10 projects through the Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work initiative. These programs will support innovative workforce development programs in Buncombe, Cumberland, Cleveland, Forsyth, Halifax, New Hanover, Pasquotank, Person, and Wilkes counties.

Also approved were four projects totaling $665,000 to support critical workforce development programs in Beaufort, Brunswick, Columbus, and Harnett counties. These projects were awarded through the foundation’s Open Grants Program.

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors approved two projects totaling more than $1.8 million through the Community-Based Grants Initiative in the Sandhills Prosperity Zone. These projects will support workforce development and infrastructure in Montgomery and Richmond counties.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to receive a portion of North Carolina’s funding received from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers. Golden LEAF has worked for 20 years to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities through leadership in grant-making, collaboration, innovation, and stewardship as an independent and perpetual foundation.