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Money From Rural Center Shifts To State Department Of Commerce

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby
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Statue Legislature Building

Most of the money formerly under the oversight of the once-powerful Rural Center has officially reverted to the state. Until recently, the non-profit Rural Center handed out taxpayer-funded grants for economic development and infrastructure.

But an audit found the Center had earned 20 million dollars worth of interest off money given by the state over the years. Lawmakers disapproved, and expressed dismay at staff members’ high salaries. So they made plans to strip the Center of its power.

Now, about 100 million dollars from the non-profit’s bank account has officially moved over to the Department of Commerce. Jeff Grimes is a Senior Program Evaluator at the General Assembly.

"That 100 million, it can be broken down as follows- slightly less than 70 million went to commerce in the form of obligated grant funds. These funds consist of 421 grants that are outstanding," says Grimes.

Grimes says commerce officials are reviewing those grants to make sure they’re above board. About 27 million dollars reverted to the state’s general fund, and around 3.7 million dollars for grant administration also went to the Department of Commerce.

Jessica Jones covers both the legislature in Raleigh and politics across the state. Before her current assignment, Jessica was given the responsibility to open up WUNC's first Greensboro Bureau at the Triad Stage in 2009. She's a seasoned public radio reporter who's covered everything from education to immigration, and she's a regular contributor to NPR's news programs. Jessica started her career in journalism in Egypt, where she freelanced for international print and radio outlets. After stints in Washington, D.C. with Voice of America and NPR, Jessica joined the staff of WUNC in 1999. She is a graduate of Yale University.
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