NC Rural Center awards three local grants

Published 11:07 am Tuesday, April 24, 2012

RALEIGH – Good news came in threes for two separate branches of local government last week.

Included in its latest round of funding, the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center awarded two grants to Hertford County and one to Ahoskie.

The local grants fell under the category of  job creation, economic infrastructure, and/or building reuse.

In one case, Hertford County gained $200,000 to assist in the construction of a rail spur for Structural Coatings Hertford, LLC, which offers state of the art priming and painting of steel plate manufactured at the nearby Nucor Steel plant. The 48,856 square foot manufacturing facility, now open near the intersection of NC 461 and River Road outside of Cofield, is expected to create 40 new jobs.

The rail spur was needed in order for the company to receive steel plate from Nucor as well as for shipping the plate once the priming/painting process was completed at the Structural Coatings Hertford facility. Many of the materials processed at Structural Coatings Hertford are large and not feasible for highway transport, making rail the ideal option.

Additionally, Hertford County local government was awarded $265,100 to help renovate a building for use by a manufacturer of automotive heating and air conditioning systems. That project will create 23 jobs.

According to Hertford County Economic Development Director Bill Early, Alfiniti Logistics, LLC is proposing an expansion to its plant in Winton. In business since 1986, Alfiniti, formerly Spectube, is known for its expertise in the fabrication and transformation of aluminum products, drawn tubing and extrusions.

Steve James of Alfiniti said his company desires to add an additional product line at the facility that will manufacture a specialized aluminum tubing.

Early said that due to the buildings being vacant for 10 years there are significant renovations and alterations that need to be made.

The grants awarded to Hertford County each require a five percent local match of the funds supplied by the Rural Center.

The Rural Center also awarded $160,000 to the Town of Ahoskie for part of a project to renovate a vacant building for use by a restaurant. The project will create 20 jobs in the town.

In February, Ahoskie officials were approached by the Abrams family of Edgecombe County about applying for a Rural Center grant to restore the old Hardees/Popeyes building on Memorial Drive and reopen it as Abrams Barbecue.

Abrams, based in Tarboro, traces its roots back to 1974. The family-owned business has branched out to Pinetops, Wilson and Scotland Neck and Greenville. The restaurant is famous for its ‘Carolina style pork barbecue, chicken and ribs. It also serves seafood and features a daily buffet as well as serving breakfast, ranging from biscuits to a complete platter.

Jerry Abrams, the son of the company’s founder, said plans are to open the Ahoskie location early next year.

Upon accepting the grant the town is responsible for $12,800 – a five percent match ($6,400) to be applied to the building’s renovation and another five percent to cover the grant administration fees.

In its recent round of funding the Rural Center awarded 53 grants totaling $8.6 million to create jobs, provide clean water and assist with economic development in rural counties. The grants will create 894 jobs and aid projects in 31 counties.

The center’s board of directors approved the grants April 18. The grants were made possible by appropriations of the N.C. General Assembly and state Clean Water Bonds.

The grants enable new business locations or expansions through water and sewer improvements, broadband expansion, natural gas line extensions, construction of access roads and other infrastructure improvements. Building reuse grants prepare vacant buildings for use by job- generating businesses and support the expansion and renovation of occupied buildings if that work leads to new, permanent jobs in the manufacturing sector.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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