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From the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, issued Sept. 30:

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center and five partnering agencies today announced the availability of $6.5 million to support health care facilities and job creation in rural North Carolina. The six nonprofit and governmental partners are making grants and loans available under an initiative called Rural Hope.

The Rural Center has dedicated $3 million for Rural Hope grants over the next year. “Our program alone will create at least 375 jobs in rural communities,” said center President Billy Ray Hall. “On top of that, we’re putting medical facilities in areas where health care is scarce. That’s two great benefits from a single program.”

The Rural Hope initiative was launched two years ago to assist in the construction and renovation of new or existing health care facilities and in the purchase of equipment for health care facilities. Projects receiving awards must create permanent jobs at those facilities. In its first two years, the funding partners have awarded $10 million to 67 projects across the state, resulting in 803 new jobs and leveraging $224 million in additional public and private investments.

In 2009, for example, a Rural Center grant assisted Pender County and PORT Human Services with establishing an adolescent treatment facility in Burgaw. The $144,000 grant went toward the construction of the nine-bed center for the treatment of mental health and substance abuse. The total construction cost was $1 million. The facility today employs 13 people.

“Although as a nation we don’t like to talk about it, we have a serious issue with substance abuse,” said Tom Savidge, CEO of PORT Human Services. “This facility allows us to offer more intervention and treatment in an area where these services have not been widely available.”

Joining the Rural Center as funding partners this area are the Golden LEAF Foundation, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the USDA Office of Rural Development. The N.C. Office of Rural Health and Community Care also is key partner in the initiative.

The partners have adopted a joint application process. As the first step, pre-applications will be accepted through Nov. 7. The partners will then invite competitive projects to submit a full application. Final award determinations will be made in February.

About the partners

Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is a federal-state partnership providing social and economic support for a 13-state region stretching along the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. Funding is provided for programs that improve educational opportunities, workforce skills, infrastructure, leadership capacity and health care resources in Appalachia. In North Carolina, ARC supports economic development activities in 29 counties: 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.

Golden LEAF Foundation

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1999 to help transform North Carolina’s economy. The foundation receives half of North Carolina’s funds from the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement with cigarette manufacturers and places special emphasis on assisting tobacco-dependent, economically distressed and/or rural communities across the state. The Golden LEAF Foundation works in partnership with governmental entities, educational institutions, economic development organizations and nonprofits to achieve its mission. The foundation has awarded 971 grants totaling more than $459 million since its inception.

Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, established in 1947, is one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Its mission is to improve the quality of life and health for the financially needy of North Carolina. The Health Care Division promotes wellness statewide by investing in prevention and treatment. The Poor and Needy Division responds to basic life needs and invests in solutions that improve the quality of life and health for financially needy residents of Forsyth County. Wachovia, a Wells Fargo company, serves as sole trustee.

N.C. Office of Rural Health and Community Care

The Office of Rural Health and Community Care helps underserved communities and populations develop innovative strategies for improving access, quality and cost-effectiveness of health care. The office helps those communities attract providers of primary medical, dental and psychiatric care and other resources needed by their residents. North Carolina was the first state to set up an office of rural health to meet the needs of isolated rural communities. Since then, the office’s mission has expanded to include addressing the needs of medically underserved residents throughout the state.

N.C. Rural Economic Development Center

The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. The center operates a multifaceted program that includes conducting research into rural issues; testing promising rural development strategies; advocating for policy and program innovations; and building the productive capacity of rural leaders, entrepreneurs and community organizations.

USDA Office of Rural Development

USDA-Rural Development is committed to the future of rural communities. Its role is to increase rural residents’ economic opportunities and improve their quality of life. Rural Development forges partnerships with rural communities, funding projects that bring housing, community facilities, utilities and other services. It also provides technical assistance and financial backing for rural businesses and cooperatives to create quality jobs in rural areas. Rural Development works with low-income individuals, state, local and Indian tribal governments, as well as private and nonprofit organizations and user-owned cooperatives.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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