The U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced last week it is awarding the City of New Bern and Craven Community College a nearly $1.3 million grant to transform one of the gateways into New Bern. The grant will be used to modify the City’s old electric generation plant and warehouse in the 200 block of First Street into a regional workforce development and training center.
The City and Craven Community College were co-applicants on the grant, which was submitted to EDA in August 2016. The Eastern Carolina Council assisted in the grant application. Renovations to the 4.6-acre site will include creation of a workforce development training center, which is proposed to be leased to the college for hosting classes, hands-on training, and skilled trades certifications. A makerspace in a separate building will provide startup space for entrepreneurs. Students will be able to receive training and certifications in trades such as small engine repair, manufacturing, and food service. Entrepreneurs will have space to design and create products and sell them to the public.
In a press release posted to the EDA’s website last week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Jay Williams said “today’s investments will help strengthen North Carolina’s economy by … allowing entrepreneurial companies to grow and providing workers with the skills they need to succeed.”
Conditions of the grant stipulate that construction must begin within 12 months of the funding award and last no more than 24 months. Before renovations begin, additional administrative work must be completed. First, the City and Craven Community College must formally accept the grant award with approval from their respective boards. Then, the City and Craven Community College must finalize details of the lease agreement. The Craven County Board of Commissioners must then approve the operational funding for the workforce development center. Finally, all necessary building permits must be approved and obtained from the City’s Development Services Department. Once this administrative work is complete, renovations and site work should begin in the spring.
According to its website, the EDA’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. EDA implements this mission by making strategic investments in the nation’s most economically distressed communities that encourage private sector collaboration and creation of higher-skill, higher wage jobs.
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