North Carolina State University has received a $45 million grant from Golden LEAF, a Rocky Mount-based foundation, for planned plant research complex on Centennial Campus.

The grant from Golden LEAF, which distributes money from North Carolina’s portion of the nationwide settlement with cigarette companies, is the largest ever to N.C. State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and one of the largest in the university’s history.

“This investment further establishes North Carolina and N.C. 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 across the globe,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.

The grant will help finance construction of the $160.2 million Plant Sciences Research Complex, which will allow academic, government and industry experts to work together to solve some of agriculture’s most pressing challenges, from coping with changing climates to feeding a growing global population on a dwindling amount of arable land.

The facility, which is expected to open in 2021, will be home for the Plant Sciences Initiative, a partnership between N.C. State and the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services that is designed to position the state as a global leader for education, research and innovation in the plant sciences.

“There are moments like this when you have to make a big investment in order to make a big change,” said Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF. “We want to make North Carolina farmland more productive and make North Carolina a center of agriculture.”

Agriculture already is the No. 1 industry in the state, accounting for $84 billion a year.

Gerlach said N.C. State’s efforts should help improve crop yields, introduce new crop and plant varieties and reduce animal feed costs.

“More important,” he said, “it gives rural North Carolina a competitive market advantage in feeding, fueling and clothing a growing global population.”

N.C. State also has obtained more than $9 million for the Plant Sciences Research Complex from 42 agricultural groups across the state and will use $85 million from the Connect NC bond initiative approved by voters statewide in March.


Web Editor: Matthew Burns