N.C. State University has received a $45 million grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation, which will go toward a massive plant sciences research complex.
The facility is for the North Carolina Plant Sciences Initiative, a partnership between the university and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The goal is to make North Carolina a global center for innovations in plant sciences.
A $160 million plant sciences research complex is planned for the university’s Centennial Campus, where NCSU scientists will collaborate with government and industry. The Connect NC bond approved by voters this year included $85 million for the facility, and agricultural groups have chipped in $9 million.
The grant announced Friday means that the complex can move forward. The project should be complete by 2021, NCSU officials said.
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The Golden LEAF grant is the largest single contribution to NCSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and among the largest in NCSU history.
“This investment further establishes North Carolina and NC State as international leaders in agricultural research and innovation, which will yield significant economic opportunities for our rural communities while providing food solutions to people around the globe,” NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.
Golden LEAF officials said the grant should help advance the state’s agriculture and rural economy, improving crop yields, introducing new crop and plant varieties, and reducing costs for animal feed.
“Our board members recognize that growing agriculture grows rural communities,” Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF, said in a statement. “It is North Carolina’s top industry at $84 billion annually, with well over 80 percent of total farm gate receipts grown in the state’s 80 rural counties. Our farmers recognize the importance of innovation to the future of agriculture.”
The Golden LEAF Foundation distributes the proceeds from the state’s settlement with cigarette manufacturers. Grants are aimed at improving the economy of tobacco-dependent communities in North Carolina.