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Gatesville gains grant

RALEIGH – Twenty North Carolina communities will benefit from $3.7 million in grants announced by the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center last week.

Among the communities receiving the grants is the Town of Gatesville. The NC Rural Center has awarded the town $25,000 to study the reuse possibilities of a vacant service station.

According to Gatesville Mayor Elton Winslow, a local businessman is looking at starting an entrepreneurial site at the old North End Service Station, located at the intersection of NC 37 and US 158 Business (Main and Maple streets).

“The money from the Rural Center will be used for a feasibility study that will help transform this old service station into office space for three-to-four small businesses,” Mayor Winslow said. “We, as a town council, felt that Gatesville needs to do a better job of improving our business climate. Our town has lost some businesses over the years and we need to do everything we can to attract and promote small business.”

The Mayor added that the existing property, which has been unoccupied for a number of years, is zoned highway commercial and will work for most any type of business. He said Mickey Lee, who owns an insurance business, is the person looking at turning the old service station into office space. Winslow said Lee had already contacted other small business owners about locating to the site.

All totaled, the NC Rural Center awarded 17 grants totaling $2.9 million for job-creating investments in water and sewer systems, vacant commercial buildings and innovative economic development projects. Over the next two years, these projects are expected to create more than 300 jobs.

Other “Building Reuse and Restoration” grants were awarded to:

Brunswick County, $50,000 to renovate and upfit the site of a former grocery store for use by a new retail operation. The new store, which will create five jobs, will sell locally produced foods, gourmet products and other items.

Caldwell County, $400,000 to renovate and upfit a vacant manufacturing facility for use by a pharmaceutical company. The site will be used for the company’s headquarters, research and development, and manufacturing. The project will create 40 jobs.

Town of Dunn, $100,000 to renovate an old meat processing facility for use by a company that supplies cleaning products and services. The new facility will create 10 jobs.

Mitchell County, $400,000 to prepare a former furniture plant for use by an electronics manufacturer. Forty jobs will be created.

Town of Tabor City, $158,725 to further work in redeveloping the Planter’s Warehouse building. This second phase of the project will bring a second firm to the site, a company that refurbishes and sells used auto parts, and 16 jobs.

Edgecombe County, $25,000 to conduct preliminary work for transforming a building once used by an oil company and car dealership into a restaurant, bar and catering facility.

Town of Morven, $25,000 to study the possible reuse of a 1920s-era hardware store as a multipurpose facility.

Town of Old Fort, $25,000 to analyze the possible reuse of two 1920s-era buildings that have been vacant for 30 years. Old Fort is participating in the center’s N.C. Small Towns Economic Prosperity demonstration program.

Town of Pilot Mountain, $25,000 to study the possible reuse of a 70,000-square-foot hosiery mill located downtown. Pilot Mountain also is participating in the NC STEP program.

The Building Reuse and Restoration Program, a component of the Economic Infrastructure Fund, helps communities restore and renovate vacant commercial buildings for use by new and expanding businesses. The program reduces the overhead costs associated with relocating or expanding a business and stimulates the local economy through job growth and infrastructure development. Planning and implementation grants are available. Local governments are eligible to apply with priority given to towns with a population of 5,000 or fewer.

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.