Local News

Money From Smoking Settlement Being Used To Fund Tobacco Plant

Posted April 9, 2002

— A major lawsuit still has large tobacco companies shelling out millions of dollars to 46 states, including North Carolina. The state is putting some of that money right back into the tobacco business.

The

Golden Leaf Foundation

is in charge of spending money awarded to North Carolina. Part of that money is being used to build a tobacco plant in Nash County. Foundation president Valeria Lee said the $400,000 spent in the state is part of economic development for a county that depends on tobacco.

"Golden Leaf was set up as a long-term economic advancement foundation. The General Assembly saw fit to use part of this settlement to look down the road actually and try to put in place some options for the well-being of the state's economy," she said.

While supporters say the money is a drop in the bucket as opposed to the money corporations will spend, others claim the money was spent inappropriately, especially during a tight budget year.

Don Carrington of the

John Locke Foundation

said spending the money on a private enterprise is poor judgment.

"The way they have it set up virtually can be spent on anything as long as you attach the name economic development to it," Carrington said. "You basically create a public-funding stream that is being used by people who are not elected."

The Golden Leaf Foundation said the money it spent will generate nearly twice as much every year once the tobacco facility opens.

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