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Grant targets job creation

JACKSON — A grant administrator has been selected to provide grant applications preparation services for industrial expansion by Hampton Farms.

At a recent Northampton County Board of Commissioners meeting, the board gave authorization to select Progressive Resources and Opportunities (PRO) to prepare a grant application to secure a Community Development Block Grant-Economic Development (CDBG-ED).

The grant would fund expansion of Hampton Farms’ infrastructure and allow the creation of 42 new jobs.

The Severn-based company is known through out the nation as the premier roaster and marketer of in-shell peanuts.

“Northampton County intends to select a contractor to provide all grant application preparation services necessary to secure (CDBG-ED) funds to complete financing for the extension of (approximately) 38,000 feet of six inch and 4,000 feet of two inch natural gas distribution lines from Conway to Severn,” said Gary Brown, Director of the county’s Economic Development Commission.

The work would be done along NC 35.

According to Brown, the cost of the natural gas extension project is estimated at $1.1 million dollars. The total CDBG-ED grant request is to be $630,000 with the balance of funding derived from the Utility Fund through the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Commerce Finance Center.

On October 13, a request for proposals was published and two proposals were received. The proposals received were assessed by a review panel using six measures, including technical approach and understanding of the project, plan of work, prior CDGB-ED experience, familiarity with the area and economic development in the area, fee proposal and experience of project staff.

“This method of evaluation and the forms utilized for rating the various proposals are evaluation protocols approved by the Department of Commerce, Division of Community Development,” said Brown.

PRO rated the highest cumulative point total and in their proposal demonstrated “strong qualifications on all measures of technical knowledge, service delivery and cost efficiency.”

Commissioner James Hester asked if residents living along NC 35 could tap into the natural gas line placed down for Hampton Farms.

Brown said he believed residents would be able to.

The commissioners approved the recommendation from Brown to select PRO as the contract agent for the Hampton Farms CDBG-ED grant preparation at a cost not to exceed $4,000.