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From the State of North Carolina Office of Governor Bev Perdue, shared May 27:

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RALEIGH – Gov. Bev Perdue today announced that 19 projects in Western North Carolina have been recommended to receive more than $2.4 million in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). ARC helps create jobs and economic development opportunities in 29 counties throughout Western North Carolina.

“Creating jobs is my first priority, and we do that by creating an environment in which businesses can grow,” said Gov. Perdue. “North Carolina and the Appalachian Regional Commission are partnering to invest in education, infrastructure and quality of life improvements that will make Western North Carolina more competitive.”

Project proposals were reviewed by the North Carolina ARC office and project partners to ensure they were consistent with ARC’s goals. The Commission will make the final decision whether each project receives funding.

Created by Congress in 1965, the Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership that works with the 420 Appalachian counties and county-equivalents in 13 states to create opportunities for self-sustaining development and growth. North Carolina counties eligible to receive funding are: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, McDowell, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes Yadkin and Yancey.

For more information about North Carolina’s ARC office, click here.

ARC PROJECT DESCRIPTIONS

Project Title: Haywood County Health Department Dental Equipment

  • Applicant: Haywood County
  • Counties served: Haywood County
  • ARC Funding: $99,967of $254,967 total project cost
  • Description: ARC funding will be used to purchase additional dental equipment that will allow the county to retain the health department dentist, two dental assistants and a dental hygienist. The new equipment will allow the Health Department to provide state of the art imaging and restorative dental services while substantially increasing the number of clients it serves. The lack of dental care for low income and uninsured residents will be significantly reduced through this project.

Project Title: Champion Drive/I-40/Buckeye Cove Critical Wastewater Upgrade

  • Applicant: Town of Canton
  • Counties served: Haywood County
  • ARC Funding: $300,000 of $1,200,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project will provide critical wastewater infrastructure to a developing business corridor. Currently, there are four businesses in this area. In order for these businesses to continue to grow this infrastructure is needed. The immediate impact of this project’s completion will be the addition of 60 full-time jobs. The current wastewater infrastructure is undersized for the amount of flow present and these lines are at maximum capacity which poses the potential for wastewater overflows. This funding will allow the infrastructure to be improved in order to handle the increased capacity.

Project Title: West Jefferson Sanitary Sewer Line Replacement

  • Applicant: Town of West Jefferson
  • Counties served: Ashe County
  • ARC Funding: $86,500 of $183,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project will include the replacement of damaged sanitary sewer lines in order to address raw sewage leakage into an adjacent waterway, and to address serve inflow and infiltration resulting in wastewater overtopping at the wastewater treatment plant. This project will provide for an improved and more reliable sanitary sewer system which will also facilitate future economic development. Without this project, 41 jobs will be lost at an assisted living facility.

Project Title: Wilkes County 1:1 Laptop Computers

  • Applicant: Wilkes County Board of Education
  • Counties served: Wilkes County
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $200,000 total project cost
  • Description: Through this project Wilkes County will purchase 255 laptop computers to be distributed to ninth-graders in the school system. This project is a part of a large endeavor to provide a portable computer device to every Wilkes County student in grades 4-12. The project will help alleviate multiple issues including high drop-out rate and the need for computer skills to succeed in the workforce and post-secondary education. Graduates will be better prepared for the workforce.

Project Title: Wireless Propagation Study

  • Applicant: McDowell County Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
  • Counties served: McDowell County
  • ARC Funding: $18,000 of $36,000 total project cost
  • Description: To conduct a broadband propagation and feasibility study to determine the most economic and effective broadband solution for the County.

Project Title: Training Facility Renovation for Nursing Assistants

  • Applicant: Tri-County Community College
  • Counties served: Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $212,419
  • Description: Tri-County Community College will renovate 1,900 square feet of the Cherokee County Center for Applied Technology to provide a training facility for students in the Nurse Assistance program. The new classroom space will serve 150 students per year and will provide the only training of this type in a three county region (Clay, Cherokee and Graham). The facility will also be used to provide continuing education courses for nurse aides. There is a growing demand for nursing aides in this region and without this project the Community College with have difficulty meeting the training needs.

Project Title: Digital Literate Asheville 1:1 Laptop Initiative

  • Applicant: Asheville City Schools
  • Counties served: Buncombe County
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $1,055,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project will assist in closing the achievement gap and eliminate the digital divide in the Asheville City Schools System by purchasing 111 computers that will ensure equity of access to technology-enhanced educational opportunities for all students. Through this project students will become proficient in a variety of technology applications that will allow them to have the workforce skills needed to make them viable candidate for careers and/or post-secondary education. The students served by this project are economically disadvantaged and do not have access to the technology needed to learn the appropriate skills for the 21st century.

Project Title: Equipment Up-fit for the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy – Asheville Campus

  • Applicant: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Counties served: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $200,000 total project cost
  • Description: ARC funding will be used for the installation of a broadband network and data storage system to support state-of-the-art video conference equipment at the Asheville branch of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy. Western North Carolina will need at least 120 new pharmacists by 2012. Forty new pharmacy graduates each year will fill current and future shortages in the region. The School of Pharmacy will be placing pharmacists in rural communities in order to provide a higher level of service delivery to some of the most underserved communities in Western North Carolina.

Project Title: Avery County Telecommunications/Broadband Access Inventory

  • Applicant: Avery County
  • Counties served: Avery County
  • ARC Funding: $13,500 of $27,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project will provide Avery County officials with a detailed inventory of telecommunications infrastructure available for use in attracting new businesses and planning for development of new telecommunications infrastructure where gaps currently exist.

Project Title: Rural Broadband Regional Expansion Program

  • Applicant: Foothills Connect Business and Technology Center
  • Counties served: Rutherford, Burke and McDowell counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $180,520 total project cost
  • Description: This project will promote economic development by providing high-speed Internet access to rural homes and businesses in the Appalachian communities that are currently under-served. Once this project is complete residential and commercial customers will have access to affordable broadband service.

Project Title: Building the Alternative Energy Economy in WNC

  • Applicant: Natural Capital Investment Fund, Inc. (NCIF)
  • Counties served: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $200,000 total project cost
  • Description: This funding request builds on NCIF’s successful track record of investing in Western North Carolina alternative energy businesses since 2007. The Fund’s ability to “buy down” risk enables traditional lenders to participate in deals that would otherwise be too risky. This request will allow NCIF to continue to invest in energy related companies. Since 2007, NCIF has received $497,000 in ARC funding to assist businesses in Western North Carolina.

Project Title: Pilot Center for Learning, Education and Retraining

  • Applicant: Town of Pilot Mountain
  • Counties served: Surry County
  • ARC Funding: $300,000 of $635,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project will include renovating and equipping two new classrooms, a large multi-use shop for technical and trade skills training and facility upgrades for the Pilot Mountain satellite campus of Surry Community College. The additional space will allow the college to offer training opportunities to meet the growing retraining demands of the community. The current facility which opened in 2010 has already reached capacity.

Project Title: Building the Clean Energy Economy in WNC

  • Applicant: Land of Sky Regional Council of Governments
  • Counties served: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $200,000 total project cost
  • Description: This funding will continue a project started in 2009 with $100,000 in ARC funding. The project is an effort to develop a robust clean energy economy in Western North Carolina that empowers the public and private leadership, economic development professionals, workforce development specialists and education partners with the data, tools, vision and network necessary to expand job opportunities, increase private investment and foster a sustainable clean energy regional economy. Project activities include the continued development and use of an online social network platform and mobilization of a high-level leadership group which will lead to the development of a long term sustainable clean energy economy in Western North Carolina.

Project Title: Equipping MedWest-Haywood’s New Inpatient Hospice Facility

  • Applicant: MedWest-Haywood
  • Counties served: Graham, Swain, Haywood, Jackson and Macon counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $280,000 total project cost
  • Description: Though this project MedWest-Haywood will equip and furnish a new, six-bed inpatient hospice facility, the first to be built west of Asheville. This facility will benefit 200 patients and 350 caregivers each year and support 15 full- and part-time jobs.

Project Title: Graham County Telecommunication Study

  • Applicant: Graham County
  • Counties served: Graham County
  • ARC Funding: $15,400 of $22,000 total project cost
  • Description: Graham County will use ARC funding to conduct a telecommunications study. This study will map their current resources and then assist in formulating a plan to further develop a telecommunications technology and business investment strategy.

Project Title: Pilot Mountain Pride Value-Added Processing for Local Foods

  • Applicant: Surry Economic Development Foundation, Inc.
  • Counties served: Surry, Stokes and Yadkin counties
  • ARC Funding: $100,000 of $200,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project will increase the capacity of value-added vegetable processing, packaging, and distribution for more than 50 farmers participating in the Pilot Mountain Pride, a community aggregation and marketing organization based in Pilot Mountain. Funding will be used to purchase equipment that will be used to process, package, and distribute vegetables ready for use by institutions, restaurants and individual consumers.

Project Title: Town of Robbinsville Wastewater Treatment Plant Relocation and Sewer System Rehabilitation

  • Applicant: Town of Robbinsville
  • Counties served: Graham County
  • ARC Funding: $300,000 of $6,115,000 total project cost
  • Description: The project will rehabilitate the Town of Robbinsville’s current sewer collection system to reduce inflow and infiltration into the system. Concurrently, a new wastewater treatment plant will be constructed on a new site, north of the current location. Inflow and infiltration into the current system is at unacceptable levels, and causes the system to operate over capacity during rainy periods. The current Wastewater Treatment Plant is falling into disrepair and is in dire need of upgrades. Due to the nature of the disrepair and the future needs of the community a larger Wastewater Treatment Plant is needed. The town has been cited by DENR and in order to be in compliance these improvements are needed to be made.

Project Title: Water Treatment Plant Improvements and Utilities Extension

  • Applicant: Town of Spruce Pine
  • Counties served: Mitchell County
  • ARC Funding: $300,000 of $1,451,900 total project cost
  • Description: This project will create jobs, comply with state water supply regulations, ensure potable water for existing users, and encourage future development by improving the Town’s water treatment plant and extending utilities to a new business. The North Carolina Public Water Supply is requiring the Town to make these improvements to comply with drinking water standards. This project will also result in the creation of 40 jobs at new assisted living center.

Project Title: North Carolina Appalachian Collaborative for Higher Education Dissemination Project

  • Applicant: Appalachian State University, University of North Carolina at Asheville and Western Carolina University
  • Counties served: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey counties
    ARC Funding: $100,000 of $200,000 total project cost
  • Description: This project has received $646,939 in NC ARC funding support since 2006. This network is a unique collaboration between Appalachian State University, the University of North Carolina at Asheville and Western Carolina University. The network will assist communities in the region with college and career exploration including work with the students to de-mystify college and encourage the pursuit of continued education. The project will award $5,000 mini-grants to eight high schools in the region for college access programming provided by both university partners and local community colleges. Technical assistance workshops will be held to assist schools in establishing a work plan reflecting college access, career development, outreach, and retention/transfer strategic goals. The project will continue to provide direct services and support to over 2,000 Appalachian high school students and teachers as these individuals seek to improve economic achievement through educational attainment.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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