NC Rural Center grants to get scrutinized by panel

Jun. 20, 2013 @ 05:20 PM

A special panel will review grant procedures at the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center following a newspaper's reports questioning how taxpayer money the center receives is distributed to businesses.

Center board Chairwoman Valeria Lee announced a committee led by former state Rep. Carolyn Justice of Pender County will conduct what Lee called a "timely, aggressive and responsive" review. The committee will submit findings to the board next month.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported last weekend several cases where grants resulted in no new jobs or far fewer than the center reported. The Rural Center has nearly $70 million that has gone unspent because of delayed projects or busted deals.

Lee said in a statement the center is treating allegations seriously, although there's no reason to suspect wrongdoing.