09/29/04 — Wayne to get grants that may lead to 225 jobs

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Wayne to get grants that may lead to 225 jobs

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 29, 2004 2:00 PM

Wayne County and Mount Olive have received preliminary approval for a combined $750,000 in grants to help attract jobs.

The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is prepared to give the county $500,000 for water and sewer lines if a company, which economic officials declined to name, chooses Goldsboro for a new plant that would employ 200 people.

Joanna Thompson, president of the Wayne County Economic Development Commission, confirmed this morning that Goldsboro is a finalist for the plant. But she noted that there are two other contenders in North Carolina and three finalists elsewhere.

"The competition will be very tough," she said. A decision is expected within two months.

The Rural Center has also approved a $250,000 grant to the town of Mount Olive to assist with Mount Olive College's recently announced expansion. The grant would help pay for a sewer line behind the college, between Henderson Street and Bert Martin Road, and a sewage lift station.

The college recently announced plans to add a new academic building, a communications center and a wellness center. The new lines will primarily serve that area.

The college expects to add up to 25 employees as a result of the expansion.

The N.C. Rural Center plans a formal announcement Thursday of more than $20 million in grants, but local legislators received early notification of projects within their districts.

N.C. Rep. Louis Pate said, "I think we should all be delighted that the county and local governments are seeking to expand their economic development opportunities. Infrastructure is key to attracting business."

Both the county and town must now complete full applications and submit them by Oct. 29. The grants are also conditional that the jobs must be created.

In July, the N.C. General Assembly created the North Carolina Economic Infrastructure Fund, a $20 million initiative to stimulate business growth and job creation. The Rural Center was directed to administer the funds with the goal of creating 130 new businesses and 1,500 new jobs.

Local governments and organizations could apply through three funds.

An infrastructure program will award $14 million for water and sewer upgrades and $1 million for four business and technology centers in rural areas.

A second fund includes $3 million for the renovation of vacant buildings in small towns, with priority given to towns with a population of less than 5,000 in economically distressed areas.

The third fund was $2 million for major research and demonstration projects.

Applicants had to show a direct tie between grants and job creation.