The Golden LEAF Foundation, which manages a pot of public funds to spur economic growth in depressed areas of the state, has seen its assets shrink by $178million after large grant awards and investment declines brought about by the recession.
The Rocky Mount-based foundation reported $731.7million in total assets as of June 30, 2008. As of April 30, that was down to about $553million, President Dan Gerlach said.
Roughly $100million of that decline is related to grant awards made by the foundation, including money used as an incentive to attract a Spirit Aerosystems plant with 1,000 jobs to Kinston. The remaining decline is due to investment losses.
The foundation's portfolio has outperformed an index that tracks foundations of similar assets, Gerlach said. But "that's cold comfort," he added.
Despite the declines, the foundation is in good shape, he said.
Golden LEAF was created by the legislature to manage half the money from a settlement with cigarette manufacturers. It is supposed to fund programs and ideas in areas that were once tobacco-dependent or are otherwise distressed to help rebuild their economies.
The foundation receives an annual payment from the settlement -- it was $80million this year -- to help fund its work. It has already committed those funds and the money due next year as officials step up efforts to help poor counties and create jobs.
"This is not unexpected," Gerlach said. "In times when the economy has contracted, the foundation has gone out and spent money" in an attempt to help revive local economies.