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Weldon is one of 30 local governments in rural areas across the state awarded money from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, Governor Roy Cooper announced today.

The town received $369,778 in the downtown revitalization category. In Northampton County the town of Garysburg received $355,680 in the community enhancement category.

“We’re ecstatic,” Weldon town Commissioner Muzette Kiger said. “It gets us to a point that we’ll be able to begin work on shovel-ready projects that will have some immediate impact.”

She said some of the money will be for improvements at River Falls park. The town will also redo sidewalks in the 300 block of Washington Avenue.

“Most excitingly, there is money for our wayfinding and banner initiative,” Kiger said.

Kiger said Halifax County Economic Development Director Cathy Scott wrote the grant while she and Commissioner Nancy Sandoval, who also serves as mayor pro-tem, came up with the possibilities on how the town could use the money. “We are greatly appreciative of the efforts put forth by Cathy Scott to secure grant funds,” she said. “We’re just so excited about the future and possibilities for Weldon. We all are working together to make it happen.”

The Rural Transformation Grant Fund is a new source of support for rural economic development projects in North Carolina funded by the federal American Rescue Plan. 

A total of $20.1 million will be issued in this first round of grant-making from the fund, which helps local governments overcome challenges that limit their economic competitiveness. 

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and its Rural Economic Development Division administers the $48 million grant fund.

“North Carolina’s rural communities are our heart and soul, and we are committed to helping them grow and become more competitive,” Cooper said. “Today’s awards will provide both the funds and the expertise to help transform and expand North Carolina’s rural economies, create good jobs, and strong communities.”

The new grant fund, the centerpiece of a broader Rural Engagement and Investment Program from the North Carolina Department of Commerce, addresses a wide variety of needs, from revitalizing downtown districts, building the capacity of local government staffs, revitalizing neighborhoods, fostering small business recovery, and generally supporting economic growth initiatives.

“Economic development success requires extensive preparation and planning,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “I’m excited to see how this first round of grants will help many rural communities in North Carolina reach the next level of prosperity.”

Kenny Flowers, assistant secretary for Rural Economic Development within the commerce department said, “Today’s awards allow us to share more widely the best practices we know work well for rural economic development programs. I look forward to working with these communities and others to come later, as we work to transform the economy in rural North Carolina.”

The application window for the second round of funding will open in early September.

More information can be found at this link