Grant program helps small NC cities use ARPA funds to spice up financial system – Carolina Public Press

Grant program helps small NC cities use ARPA funds to spice up financial system – Carolina Public Press

SALUDA — For small cities, group improvement and financial development are sometimes synonymous.

“There’s a relationship between constructing that sense of place (and) supporting small companies and entrepreneurs in downtown districts,” stated Kenny Flowers from the N.C. Division of Commerce’s Rural Financial Growth Division. 

“Making a vibrancy helps while you’re attempting to do an financial improvement undertaking.”

Flowers and his crew on the Commerce Division are charged with trying into methods to bolster North Carolina’s rural cities and cities. Not too long ago, that’s meant sifting by means of purposes for the Rural Transformation Grant, a fund created by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

Starting final summer time, the U.S. Division of the Treasury distributed ARPA cash in two methods: on to county, metropolis and city governments and to the state authorities for the legislature to resolve the best way to acceptable. 

Gov. Roy Cooper’s plans for the state’s $5.7 billion included a $48 million allocation to the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, which native authorities officers may use to reinforce communities, revitalize downtowns and strengthen neighborhoods. 

The fund additionally put aside cash for the state to companion with Appalachian State College and supply academic programming for native authorities officers. 

In North Carolina’s 18 westernmost counties, 4 municipalities — Valdese in Burke County, Mars Hill in Madison County, Saluda in Polk County and Previous Fort in McDowell County — acquired a complete of $2.67 million by means of the Rural Transformation Grant Fund.

Mars Hill, Hildebrand in Burke County, Rosman in Transylvania County and Spruce Pine in Mitchell County additionally participated within the financial improvement program with the commerce division and ASU.  

A refurbished city icon

The Previous Rock College in Valdese has housed “a number of reminiscences,” stated Morrissa Angi, Director of Group Affairs and Tourism for Valdese.
However the almost century-old former faculty constructing, which now features as a group middle outfitted with school rooms, nonprofit and enterprise places of work and a 500-seat auditorium, is in want of enhancements. 

“With us being a small city and a constructing in a small city, quite a lot of initiatives which can be awarded are necessity-based,” Angi stated. 

“This (grant) actually covers quite a lot of the issues which were pushed again due to necessity initiatives.”

Vadese’s $850,000 in Rural Transformation Grant funding will go towards putting in a ramp and auditorium seats compliant with the People With Disabilities Act. 

Some initiatives funded by means of the state grant, corresponding to changing flooring and including extra restrooms, will improve what Angi described as an “iconic” Valdese constructing. Whereas others, together with renovating the constructing’s third ground to create rentable workplace areas, will carry income to the city, which bought the constructing in 1986. 

“The gist of the initiatives with the grant aren’t actually saving us cash; they’re producing cash,” she stated. 

The state grant additionally signifies that cities don’t should faucet into their very own ARPA funds to do initiatives essential to proceed financial development, corresponding to fortifying downtown areas. 

Moderately, cities can save their direct ARPA allocations for extra urgent initiatives. 

A bustling city middle

Officers from Saluda plan to make use of the $111,000 ARPA funds appropriated on to the group with a view to enhance its sewer system and roadways. The town, nestled in Polk County, will use its $170,000 award from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, to reinforce its city middle, McCreery Park.  

The objective of including an out of doors amphitheater, renovating the park, bettering tools and making current park amenities ADA-compliant is to ascertain McCreery as a “group funding,” Saluda Metropolis Supervisor Steve Orr stated. 

“We’ve got lots of people that go to and if they’ve kids, (the park) makes it very easy for them to have a spot for the children to go,” he stated. 

“It simply makes it way more family-oriented.”

Whereas Saluda has fewer than 1,000 residents, McCreery Park is continually vigorous as totally different group teams use the world for occasions and academic programming. 

Tending to the city’s middle won’t solely make Saluda a extra engaging website for vacationers and residents, however it should additionally catalyze additional dialog about improvement. It additionally, based on Orr, ties on to the objective of ARPA — to handle deficits made evident by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“All of it ties collectively since you’ve obtained public well being outcomes, you’ve obtained financial improvement, you’ve obtained the park and all these different features,” he stated. 

“You begin to get a very good synergy.”

The start of an initiative

Western North Carolina’s different cities receiving funding by means of the Rural Transformation Grant have related initiatives deliberate. 

Previous Fort plans to make use of its $900,000 award to enhance a central street, North Catawba Avenue, by constructing ADA-compliant sidewalks, incorporating a section of the Fonta Flora State Path and connecting its downtown with trails within the Pisgah Nationwide Forest. 

Mars Hill is utilizing its $750,000 Rural Transformation Grant funding to buy and renovate a historic downtown constructing. Enhancing the Gibbs Constructing, constructed within the early 1900s, will revitalize the city’s downtown district, based on a undertaking description offered by the Commerce Division. 

Altogether, 30 native governments in rural areas acquired funding by means of the state’s ARPA allotment. There shall be a minimum of two extra grant cycles the place small cities and cities can apply for the funds, Flowers stated. 

After the ARPA cash runs out — all federal {dollars} have to be allotted by December 2024 and spent by December 2026 — Flowers stated the state plans to proceed the grant by means of different funding streams. With 86 purposes for a complete of $51.4 million, the continuation of the grant will probably be appreciated. 

“The Rural Transformation Grant Fund will change into part of that continued funding in communities,” he stated. 

“That’s our basis for financial improvement: rising competitiveness, rising capability and enhancing the standard of life in rural communities.”

Right here’s an inventory of all North Carolina localities that acquired funding by means of the Rural Transformation Grant Fund:

Newton, $900,000Sanford, $900,000Old Fort, $900,000Lumberton, $900,000Spencer, $900,000Tarboro, $875,000Greenville, $875,000Valdese, $850,000Stokes, $850,000Rockingham, $750,000Alexander County, $650,000Weldon, $369,778Roxboro, $175,000Mount Olive, $175,000Stantonsburg, $50,000Randolph County, $900,000Jonesville, $900,000Pembroke, $850,000Wallace, $825,000Hickory, $900,000Salisbury, $875,000Raeford, $846,000Windsor, $839,450Butner, $825,000Mars Hill, $750,000Garysburg, $355,680Elizabethtown, $332,500Pilot Mountain, $330,000Warren County $300,000Saluda, $170,000 


Supply hyperlink

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.