Washington County pulls itself ‘out of the (economic) mud’

Published 9:15 am Thursday, July 10, 2008

By Staff
Help coming from Golden LEAF
Staff Writer
Washington County received some important funds for its significant economic development plans.
On Wednesday morning, Golden LEAF awarded the Tier 1 county $2 million as part of its Community Assistance Initiative.
The grants are awarded to non-profit organizations and government entities in North Carolina, according to Golden LEAF’s Web site.
Washington County is one of 41 counties in the state considered Tier 1, the most economically-depressed designation a county can receive.
Washington County is also considered a tobacco-dependent community, for which Golden LEAF is committed to using its funds, according to its Web site.
Residents of the county will have the opportunity to tell representatives from the foundation and the Washington County Board of Commissioners what projects the money should be put into.
Golden LEAF has stringent rules in regard to the initiative. The money cannot be used to fund projects already established by the county, Peoples said.
Representatives from the foundation also make a point of meeting face-to-face with individuals at scheduled public meetings.
Dates have not yet been set for the public meetings, but the first will be in the middle of August, he said.
The county commissioners will work with individuals to compile a list of the county’s greatest needs.
Types of projects that received funding during the 2007-2008 grant cycle included the expansion of the Engelhard Medical Center, raw water intake improvements in Lenoir and the addition of classrooms in Scotland County Public Schools.
Peoples sees similar projects starting in Washington County.
Since grants through the initiative are awarded on a yearly cycle, the county sees the $2 million as the beginning of some long-term economic support.
Corey shared Peoples’ sense of relief and excitement.