A local establishment that sought a grant from the N.C. Rural Center was not among those announced as beneficiaries in the recent round of funding from the state.
As part of the round of funding, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center awarded 37 grants totaling $5.4 million to create jobs (through economic infrastructure and building reuse projects), provide clean water and assist with economic development in rural counties. The grants will create 587 jobs and assist projects benefiting 34 counties.
There were 11 towns and counties that received building reuse grants that ranged from $40,000 to $500,000, according to the list of those approved for funding by the N.C. Rural Center. An applicant from Sampson County, Wall Street and Main Inc. and its application for $160,000 in Building Reuse and Restoration funds to assist building upgrades, was not included in the Dec. 5 announcement.
In pursuing the grant application, business owner Rusty Jackson said the grant would greatly assist in making renovations necessary to open three new food establishments — a bakery and cafe on the first floor and an upscale restaurant on the second — at the two-story building at 101 Wall St., owned by Burgess Group Consolidated LLC.
Wall Street and Main Inc. proposed to create 20 full-time jobs, at 35 hours per week, with the state providing $8,000 per full-time job created. An additional 35 part-time jobs were anticipated as part of the three-business venture.
The building was purchased by Burgess Group for $100,000 in September 2009 and there has been $374,700 in building improvements since restoration began in 2010, with another $625,300 proposed. The $160,000 grant was to assist in cutting into that $625,300, with Burgess Consolidated to reportedly put up the balance.
Jackson has estimated three months for construction once funds are received, however that will be a little longer now.
John Swope, executive director of the Sampson County Economic Development Commissioner, applied on behalf of Wall Street and Main Inc. after the Board of Commissioners approved Jackson’s request to submit an application.
He said this week he could work toward amending the application and reapplying for the next round of funding if the business chose that opinion, mentioning that the number of jobs set to be created could be modified. He noted, however, that he is not sure that is what factored into the application not receiving a thumbs-up.
“We briefly talked about it,” said Swope. “It’s in their hands now. If they want to amend it, we can look at that. I don’t know what caused it not to be approved.”
In recent weeks, Jackson said the state grant would assure that a significant hurdle is surmounted. However, if not approved for the grant, she assured the venture would still happen, just not as quickly.
“It’ll set me back a couple months, because I’ll have to find some money somehow,” she said. “We will move forward regardless. I talked to (property owner) Vince (Burgess) and he said we will finish it. Grant or not, we should be able to move forward. It will just be a little slower.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at email@example.com.