A plane takes off from the Global TransPark cargo airport in Kinston, N.C.

(The Center Square) – North Carolina has approved $4.5 million in grants for renovations, infrastructure and economic development in rural communities, Gov. Roy Cooper announced.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) has approved 16 grants for more than a dozen counties. Cooper said the funds would help create more than 530 jobs and attract more than $91.3 million in private investment to the state.

“North Carolina’s rural communities need support to upgrade their infrastructure to attract good jobs and build a stronger future, “ Cooper said Thursday in a news release. “Investments like Rural Infrastructure grants signal to businesses and communities that our state is ready for economic development despite the challenges of the pandemic.”

Nine of the grants were issued for a building reuse program. Plastic packaging manufacturer Serioplast US LLC plans to make one of the biggest investments for an empty 63,000-square-foot building in Robeson County. The company plans to spend $9.3 million and create 46 new jobs in Red Springs. Robeson County received $350,000 from the state to support the project.

Taiji Medical Supplies will invest $12.2 million and create 79 jobs in Lincolnton from a $250,000 grant for Lincoln County. The funds are to support a vacant 115,924-square-foot building. The company will produce N95 respirators.

RIA also approved vacant building grants for Davidson, McDowell, Pitt, Robeson and Union counties. A total of 156 jobs are tied to the grants.

Lenoir, in Caldwell County, will get $500,000 to support the renovation of a 412,554-square-foot building for Craftmaster Furniture’s expansion. The upgrade is expected to create 62 jobs and an investment of $753,405.

In Catawba County, Newton was approved for a $200,000 grant to help expand RMC Advanced Technologies’ operations. The project will create 35 jobs and attract a $992,280 private investment.

Lenoir County is expected to see $50 million in investments from its $500,000 grant from the state to expand a taxiway at the North Carolina Global TransPark.

Also on approval list for state grants are Gaston, Granville, Beaufort, Martin, Brunswick and Washington counties.

“Rural North Carolina will be positioned to attract hundreds of new jobs and welcome investments by a variety of innovative employers, thanks to these grants,” North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said. “Our department’s Rural Economic Development Division and the Rural Infrastructure Authority are proud to continue working with leaders of counties, cities and towns to make strategic investments in their communities.”

Staff Reporter

Nyamekye Daniel has been a journalist for four years. She was the managing editor for the South Florida Media Network and a staff writer for The Miami Times. Daniel's work has also appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The New York Times.