Governor Roy Cooper announced last week that 42 local governments in rural areas across the state have been awarded grants from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund, supporting rural economic development projects in North Carolina. A total of $19.76 million will be issued in this second round of grantmaking from the Fund, which helps local governments overcome challenges that limit their economic competitiveness. The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden last year. The North Carolina Department of Commerce and its Rural Economic Development Division administers the fund.
“More support for North Carolina’s rural communities is on the way with these transformative grants, made possible by President Biden’s American Rescue Plan,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “These funds, backed up by the expertise of our rural development team at the Department of Commerce, will bring more economic opportunity to people across the state.”
The Rural Transformation Grant Fund, the centerpiece of a broader Rural Engagement and Investment Program from 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.
The Rural Transformation Grant Fund awarded grants in four categories, which included Downtown Revitalization. Bryson City received a $600,000 grant from this category to improve the downtown corridor of the town.
The Downtown Revitalization category supports downtown development initiatives that help grow and leverage a community’s commercial core into an asset for economic growth and prosperity.
The Resilient Neighborhoods category offers grants focused on community development and quality of life improvements, such as eliminating food deserts, creating healthy living initiatives, and increasing access to affordable housing options, among other initiatives.
“Following the best practices that we know work well, these economic development grants will bring new vitality to many rural communities,” said Kenny Flowers, the Commerce Department’s Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development. “I look forward to working with these communities as we work to transform the economy in rural North Carolina.”
The project scope for Bryson City includes improvements to the Main Street Streetscape. The funds will be used to design and construct a streetscape project on Main Street from the intersection of Veterans Boulevard to Everett Street. The anticipated outcome will include improvements to 1,880 linear feet of pedestrian infrastructure and street lighting allowing the town to capitalize on its ability to attract visitors to the downtown district.