09/06/13 — Fremont assured of state grants

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Fremont assured of state grants

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on September 6, 2013 1:46 PM

FREMONT -- Word came down from a North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center representative Wednesday that the town of Fremont's NC Small Town Economic Prosperity grant funding is safe and the town will have access to the full amount of money promised in the grant.

The grant allocates $25,000 in planning funds to be used to outline projects to be completed, with a $100,000 grant to spur economic growth in Fremont.

After the Aug. 27 meeting was canceled due to a combination of not being sure if the funding was coming in and a death in the family of Art Jackson with the Rural Center, the future of the STEP planning was up in the air.

A meeting is now tentatively scheduled for Sept. 12.

According to an email sent to the Fremont STEP team by NC STEP Coach Chilton Rogers, the projects will have to be under contract during November or December.

The planning funds were already safe, but the question was whether the project funds would follow through.

"It's extremely good news but I hadn't thought a whole lot about it with the stuff happening over at Acme," Town Administrator Kerry McDuffie said. "This may change the focus of the NC STEP meetings. Having some certainty around this is good to know."

McDuffie said he believes that there may be some shift in the projects being considered to fill the manufacturing facility being vacated by Acme United in the spring.

McDuffie said the projects could range from advertising to incentive grants and "everything in between."

McDuffie said that he doesn't know if the committees will shift their focus to the Acme plant in the NC STEP meeting coming up, but that the plant closing is definitely something that needs to be discussed.

The plant will be relocating to Rocky Mount, costing 40 jobs in Fremont.

The employees have been offered a chance to move to the new Rocky Mount facility, which is 40 miles away.

The status of the grant funding came into question after the center was rolled into the state Department of Commerce following an audit critical of the agency.