Crawford, Rivers join EDC

May. 16, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Two new members were appointed to the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Commission at its board of directors meeting Wednesday.

Jim Crawford III and Al Rivers replaced the late EDC chairman Sam Watkins and vice-chairman Paul Harris, who resigned.

Crawford is the CEO of Home Credit Inc., which provides automobile and personal loans.

Rivers is a broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage and Prudential Select Properties in Henderson.

Representatives from the Golden LEAF Foundation and the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority were also present to speak about potential funding opportunities for Vance, Granville, Warren and Franklin counties.

Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Vance County Commissioner Tommy Hester to the newly created authority, which is part of the Rural Economic Development Division.

Last year, the state General Assembly established the new rural economic division within the Department of Commerce to administer grants and loans to local governments — which had previously been the role of the non-profit N.C. Rural Economic Development Center.

While the Rural Economic Development Division administers grant and loan programs, it will not be responsible for making award decisions.

Instead, the Rural Infrastructure Authority will review applications for grants and loans and then award funds.

The programs to be offered by the new division are similar to those offered by the rural center.

“Vance County is what we call a very high-quality economic destination because of the proximity to the Triangle and the fact that you all have your act together,” said Golden LEAF President Dan Gerlach. “One of the greatest strengths in the county is Vance-Granville Community College because Vance-Granville believes in career and technical education.”

Gerlach said the foundation has a tentative fiscal year 2015 grant budget of $35 million — composed of $4 million in open grants, $10 million in economic catalyst grants, $5 million in scholarships, $12 million in community-based grant initiatives and $4 million for special initiatives.

Most of the Golden LEAF grants provide funding or support for infrastructure or activities that would promote job creation in tobacco-dependent or economically distressed areas.

David Peoples, of the Rural Economic Development Division, presented funding opportunities available through the division.

He said governments in the Tri-County could take advantage of several programs, including the Building Reuse Program, Economic Infrastructure Program, Community Development Block Grants, Industrial Development Fund Utility Account and Division of Community Assistance.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.