Written by Dan Gerlach, President of the Golden LEAF Foundation.
The Golden LEAF Foundation was created to ensure to ensure there would be dedicated resources to help transform the economy of rural, tobacco-dependent and economically distressed communities in North Carolina.
During my more than 20 years in North Carolina and my almost eight years as President of Golden LEAF, there’s no doubt in my mind that the heart and soul of the innovation, creativity, risk-taking, vision, and significance of North Carolina can be found in the farmer and grower.
Earlier this year, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors stepped out of our usual grantmaking processes to create a fund to support the development of major industrial sites across North Carolina. This fund would reduce the time it takes a big manufacturer to be build a plant and hire North Carolina workers, exporting product all over the United States and all over the world. With this $25 million, there would be no requirement that a company be committed, but rather faith that this seed corn would facilitate the location of good-paying manufacturing jobs to North Carolina. Manufacturing has long been part of rural North Carolina’s past, and certainly important to its future – though in a different way.
So it should be no surprise that our Board of Directors made one of the biggest commitments in our history – $45 million – to ensure that a facility on NC State’s Centennial Campus in Raleigh to house the Plant Sciences Initiative would be built. Manufacturing and agriculture are the two great workhorses of our rural economy, and are a major part of our future as well.