ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. – North Carolina lawmakers this summer voted to siphon $17.5 million a year, for two years, from the amount due the Golden LEAF foundation as part of a court settlement with tobacco companies, the Winston-Salem Journal reported July 5.
Lawmakers initially attempted to redirect the Rocky Mount-based funder’s total annual allocation of $67 million to help plug the state’s $2.4 billion budget gap.
However, Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives struck a deal that minimized Golden LEAF’s loss in exchange for five Democrats’ votes to override Gov. Perdue’s veto of the state budget.
While the foundation will receive 25 percent less in funding for the next two years, Dan Gerlach, the organization’s executive director, says the funder will continue to award $10 million a year in economic development grants, much of which is used as “the closer” in completing major economic-development projects.
“It will make it harder to do out-of-the-box grants, which is pivotal since many of the requests from communities negotiating with large corporations typically don’t fit neatly in a box,” Gerlach says of Golden LEAF’s economic-development grants.
The remaining $40 million in funding by the foundation will go toward expanding broadband access, providing grants for worker training, boosting small businesses, and providing scholarships for rural high-school students.
The Golden LEAF board has yet to determine if it will dip into the foundation’s principal of more than $550 million to keep grantmaking up.