NC Co-ops Awarded $10.8M to Reinvest in Rural Communities

North Carolina’s electric cooperatives continue to invest their time and resources into the communities they serve. This year they will be delivering dollars that will finance industrial parks in rural areas and provide first responders with top-of-the-line equipment.

In 2023, co-ops have been awarded $10.8 million through 17 grants and loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant (REDLG) program. Both of those figures are major steps forward in the cooperatives’ mission of creating change in their communities reflecting the largest dollar amount awarded to N.C. co-ops since 2018, and the highest number of loans and grants since 2020.

“REDLGs are an excellent example of how cooperatives demonstrate one of our core principles, ‘Concern for Community’,” said Anna Walker, economic development specialist and REDLG program lead for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “Cooperatives are rooted in the communities they serve and are key partners in helping those communities prosper.”

These awards provide zero-interest loans to rural cooperative utilities to fund local projects that create and retain employment, boost economic growth and help improve overall quality of life in rural America.

These dollars have strengthened the capabilities of emergency services with purchases like new fire trucks and patrol cars, as well as improvements to emergency services facilities that support staff and improve response time.

REDLG funding has also supported the expansion of employment in rural North Carolina through financing shell buildings where businesses can open a new facility or expand into a viable property. Shell buildings have been built and occupied in Richmond, Wake, and Bladen counties, with several more in design or under construction across the state, bringing jobs and investments to these areas.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic and uncertain economic environment of the last few years, it’s particularly important for local governments, nonprofits, and businesses to have access to low-cost funds that support job creation and retention in rural areas,” said Walker. “North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are trusted partners in rural communities and are proud to be a conduit for USDA funds to support economic activity across the state.”

After the most recent round of grants and loans were announced, including awards to Haywood EMC for the first time, 25 of North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives have now participated in the program.

The seven REDLGs from the most recent round of grants bringing this year’s total to $10.8 million include:

  • EnergyUnited: $4 million in two loans to develop sewer and water infrastructure for a Davidson County industrial park
  • Haywood EMC: $116,665 and $300,000 awards to the Cruso Fire Department to purchase a fire truck
  • Edgecombe-Martin County EMC: $300,000 award to build a second fire department in the Town of Nashville
  • Pee Dee Electric: $300,000 award for the Northside Volunteer Fire Department to purchase a new truck
  • Surry-Yadkin EMC: $280,000 award for the Town of Elkin to purchase a hook lift truck for maintenance needs