Grant application approved

Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2022

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GATESVILLE – County officials have approved the necessary document that is required upon application for a state grant.

At a special called meeting here Oct. 24, the Gates County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution that allows the county to apply for a 743,400 grant from the Community Enhancement for Economic Growth Program offered through the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

The funding, if awarded, will assist local officials develop a master plan for land the county purchased at the former Merchants Commerce Center. Earlier this year, in a 3-2 vote, the commissioners approved spending $600,000 to purchase that land (145 acres) from Briarwood Forest Products, Inc.

Reba Green-Holley, contracted by the county to write grants, told the commissioners at the Oct. 24 meeting that she worked with Commissioners Jack Owens and Dr. Althea Riddick and County Planner Lisa Cherry to gain the information needed to apply for the grant

“You have already committed to a conceptual plan (with Summit Engineering) and this allows you to move that to a master plan,” Green-Holley noted. “It also allows for community input for ideas for that land and how you move forward in developing that land.”

Summit Engineering, according to Green-Holley, has led major development projects across the state.

“They’ve already done what you all want to do here in Gates County [developing property] and have been very successful,” she added. “Their projects are very pleasing to the eye and brought businesses to those areas. They’ve been able to incorporate areas where businesses and parks co-exist, giving it a family-feel like scenario.

“They anticipate trying to bring a variety of businesses that we currently do not have here in Gates County and others that will enhance what we already have here,” Green-Holley continued. “It will be a win-win situation, which will increase employment here along with centralizing broadband accessibility along a thoroughfare that is widely traveled.”

She noted the close proximity of the property to Merchants Millpond State Park that attracts over 200,000 visitors a year with “nowhere to spend their money.”

“This is the next logical step in the plan,” stressed Commissioner Linda Hofler. “We need something to show people of our plans for that land.”

Green-Holley said the master plan also includes marketing, logos, and a website to attract potential new businesses.

“Whenever you develop something, there’s a picture for what you want it to look like and for people who want to invest will be able to see what that property will look like,” she stated, adding that input from the community is vital as to what types of businesses they would like to see there.

That public input will be received during a series of planned meetings with the community.

“There has already been some ideas shared and there will be more opportunities for diverse groups of people to share [their ideas].” Green-Holley concluded.

With that, Hofler motioned to approve the resolution that paves the way for the application to be submitted. Commissioner Jonathan Craddock offered a second and the motion was approved by a 3-0 vote. Commissioners Owens and Ray Freeman did not attend the meeting.


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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