Golden Leaf Support sought

Published 10:34am Tuesday, October 15, 2013

JACKSON – A unique project in Northampton County is seeking the support of the Golden Leaf Foundation.

Last week, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners gave the green light to County Manager Ken Creque to seek $1.5 million from Golden Leaf for the Northampton Industrial Capacity Enhancement Project.

According to Creque, the mission of the project will be to work with local and regional school systems, community colleges, non profits and corporate sponsors to create an environment that will make a meaningful change in the lives of the local communities.

The project will begin with the creation of the Northampton Industrial Capacity Enhancement Zone (NICE). Creque said the focus of NICE is the development of a premier capability to support meaningful, long-term workforce development and capacity building.

“This project has partnerships with NCCAR (North Carolina Center for Automotive Research), CADA, Halifax Community College and Roanoke-Chowan Community College,” Creque said. “They all seek to be partners in this three-portioned project – economic development by which Northampton County creates a 5013C charitable organization to enter into economic development agreements; the development of the Northampton County Engineering and Technical Academy that will be supported by HCC and RCCC, with the leases from the 5013C used to fund the academy; and a force main repair in the sum of $864,000 that needs to be done to support a commercial project.”

Creque went on to say that the Engineering and Technical Academy will produce highly-trained graduates that can be recruited by corporate partners in the region and nationally.

“The Academy will directly impact the growth of our economy and improve the quality of life for the people in our region,” he stressed.

Creque said the building used to site the proposed Engineering and Technical Academy is the former Seaboard-Coates Elementary School.

“That seems to be the likely site to place this particular school because Seaboard is one of the few municipalities in Northampton County that both Roanoke-Chowan Community College (based in Ahoskie) and Halifax Community College (Weldon) can both serve. Both those institutions are comfortable with that,” he stated.

Commissioner Joe Barrett noted the 20 percent match that the county is responsible for should Golden Leaf approve Northampton’s grant request.

“Right now the project is one piece with three components – economic development, education, and infrastructure,” Creque said. “The way the project will be submitted to Golden Leaf, our match will be buildings and property with no cash match.

“There’s a slight chance that Golden Leaf could choose to fund all or just part of the project,” Creque added. “In the event they chose to just fund the force main repair, then we would have to come up with a cash match. I have no idea right now on what they will choose to fund or fund anything at all because we have yet to apply for the funding. The way it’s set up right now, I believe it’s a project Golden Leaf would wholeheartedly support.”

“We do have the option to drop out at any point if for some reason they (Golden Leaf) say we’ve got to put up cash,” inquired Commissioner Fannie Green.

“Yes, you can always decline the award,” Creque answered.

Commissioner Virginia Spruill motioned to move forward with the application to Golden Leaf. Green offered a second and the motion passed 5-0.

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