‘Access Chowan’ project awarded nearly $800,000

Published 6:16 pm Friday, December 23, 2022

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WINTON – Hertford County officials received an early Christmas present in the amount of nearly $800,000 that will assist them in their economic development plans.

Governor Roy Cooper recently announced that 42 local governments in rural areas across the state have been awarded money from the Rural Transformation Grant Fund (RTGF), supporting rural economic development projects in North Carolina.

In October, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners approved two applications to the RGTF for their “Access Chowan” project. They sought $725,000 for real and personal property acquisition and $49,999 for development/planning purposes.

Both grants were approved by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and its Rural Economic Development Division.

“This is a great day for Hertford County due to receiving these two grants. Both will be of great benefit to us as we move our county forward for economic development,” said Andre Lassiter, Chairman of the county’s Board of Commissioners.

“Access Chowan” is a beginning phase of the Hertford County Center. a mixed use development with access to the Chowan River and residential neighborhoods.

“Access Chowan will allow for the acquisition of property for river access and recreation to spur economic growth through a natural resource, health and wellness, and overall quality of life for Hertford County’s citizens and workforce,” stated Kelly Bowers, the county’s Economic Development Director, in her presentation to the commissioners in October.

The resolution of support approved by the commissioners in October states, in part, that the board “has elected to establish the Access Chowan Project to provide open access to public waters and close-to-home outdoor recreational activities, which are designed to meet the expressed needs of the region and the community.”

“There are public boat ramps, owned and operated by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission, in Hertford County that allow for boating access,” Bowers told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in a later interview. “However, there are no public access areas in the county that allow our citizens and visitors to enjoy the beauty and engage in recreational activities along the river. That’s what we’re hoping to change with the ‘Access Chowan’ project and these grants will help us attain that goal.”

Two other local government entities in the Roanoke-Chowan area were also awarded RGTF grants.

In the Downtown Revitalization Category, Bertie County was awarded a $200,000 grant to support Phase II of the creation of an Asset Development Master Plan for use by Bertie’s municipalities, communities, and businesses. The anticipated outcome will be a Master Plan that will provide a roadmap for the entire county, the educational process of developing the vision for downtown revitalization, and the technical assistance action plan for implementation.

In the Community Enhancements Category, the Town of Garysburg received a $49,999 grant to complete a Master Plan with detail renovation plans and preliminary estimates to support the renovation of the multi-use Town Center. The Town Center will be designed to include a business incubator, outdoor and indoor recreation spaces, special event rental and meeting for spaces for local nonprofits.

A total of $19.76 million will be issued statewide in this second round of grantmaking from the Fund, which helps local governments overcome challenges that limit their economic competitiveness.

The funding comes from the American Rescue Plan, signed by President Biden last year.

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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