The Community and Economic Development program at the School of Government provides public officials with training, research, and assistance that support local efforts to create jobs and wealth, expand the tax base, and maintain vibrant communities. We deploy the resources of the University to support the development goals of communities in North Carolina.
Recent Blog Posts
What is WIFIA? WIFIA stands for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the name of the federal act that authorized an interesting new federally managed water and wastewater infrastructure funding mechanism. WIFIA includes both direct loans and a new credit enhancement/guarantee mechanism (more on WIFIA guarantees in a future blog post). The WIFIA program was first created in 2014, but its funding appropriation and program guidance was not completed until the end of 2016. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Notice of Funding Availability for WIFIA on January 10th, 2017. Borrowers interested in taking out a loan with this year’s funds have until April 10th, 2017 to submit letters of interest that will be considered by EPA.
Here’s how the EPA describes what a WIFIA loan has to offer:
“It can offer borrowers the advantage of developing customized terms, including sculpted repayment terms to match the specific needs of a project. Finally, the WIFIA program lends at a low, fixed interest rate equal to the Treasury Rate for a comparable maturity. (WIFIA Program Handbook)”
As with most federal programs, it is important to read the fine print. WIFIA loans have some strings Read more »
The Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) designation was established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 1995. The intent of the program is to address economic development and housing needs within economically disadvantaged communities. To achieve NRSA status, a municipality must file an application in conjunction with their Consolidated Plan as part of the overarching Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. In order to be approved, the proposed NRSA must be a contiguous area primarily zoned for residential use. Additionally, the application must be produced in collaboration with community stakeholders and must include a thorough assessment of the existing economic conditions and detail steps that will be undertaken to improve the vitality of the community. Read more »
There have been numerous national reports of positive economic information over the past six months. Unemployment is low, economic growth is steady and even growing, jobs are being created and 10 years later, we are finally moving beyond the devastating impacts of the recession. It would appear that CED professionals should be preparing for how to handle the coming growth. But before launching the celebratory party, it would be better instead to look at the actual distribution of the data that lies underneath the aggregate headline numbers, and consider several disturbing, stark examples of the divided NC economy. Read more »
In today’s changing climate, planning for natural hazard mitigation and the reduction of wet weather impacts is a top priority, particularly in coastal communities and flood-prone areas. Communities with growing populations face additional pressures, as more people and increased development strain existing water infrastructure and a place’s capacity to weather storms. In light of these challenges, green infrastructure represents one way towns and cities can better manage stormwater and help increase their resiliency. Read more »
The 2016 Disaster Recovery Act was signed into law in December 2016 and provides over $200 million to help recovery after Hurricane Matthew and the wildfires in western North Carolina. This appropriation is intended to cover needs not met by Federal disaster recovery funds allocated to the state in the form of grants, loans, and insurance payments, which to date total well over $400 million. Many daunting challenges lie ahead in determining the most effective way of deploying these funds. The research project on community and regional resilience at the School of Government aims to help communities think differently about how they prepare for disasters and how they can become more resilient, providing data and information that can spark realistic conversations about a community’s future. This blog looks at some of the main elements that determine resilience and vulnerability in North Carolina’s counties.
RAD, or the Rental Assistance Demonstration program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may not be as radical in its approach to preserving low-income housing as its acronym suggests, but an interim evaluation of the pilot program indicates it shows promise. Read more »
The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.
Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:
Durham, NC featured in CityLab article asking, can historic preservation stop gentrification before it starts? http://bit.ly/2ia9Uxm
North Carolina programs receive federal economic development grants to help promote entrepreneurship: http://bit.ly/2gugv7t
Charlotte Business Journal looks at the possible impact of U.S. trade policy on North Carolina exporters. http://bit.ly/2hfWAGV
North Carolina Education and Workforce Development Part II: The North Carolina Community College System
The first post in this CED blog series on education and workforce development in North Carolina elaborated on Work Ready Communities. Part II examines opportunities for workforce development within the North Carolina Community College System.
Improving pathways to higher education is a key component in workforce development. Businesses desire competent workers with skills and training that are able to meet workforce demands. Localities are in a unique position to facilitate the development of human capital through the support of policies and programs. As SOG Professor Jonathan Morgan points out, “Communities and regions must operate successfully on each side of the human capital equation by both stimulating the demand for skilled workers and ensuring that the supply of workers is sufficient to meet that demand. The goal is to create lots of good jobs and have great workers to fill them.”
If you build the talent, the industry might Read more »
There is no constant in community. Population ebbs and flows; market preferences shift; the economy fluctuates. Each community evolves. In many suburban places across North Carolina—indeed, across the U.S.—that evolution includes a move toward more density, more mixed uses, and more connected neighborhoods. Communities are grappling with questions about how these places will change. What is the local government’s role in this transition? How does a city or county encourage the redevelopment of suburban spaces? And what are the practical and political implications?
Note: This is the second of three blog posts on biophilic design, a design philosophy that seeks to incorporates nature into man-made spaces. Part 1 introduced the topic of biophilic design. This post, Part 2, discusses a case study on biophilic design. Part 3 will explore the idea of biophilic cities.
Manassas Park Elementary School
Manassas Park Elementary School, located in Manassas Park, Virginia, was chosen for this case study because it illustrates the many simple ways that biophilic design can be incorporated into buildings. Manassas Park Elementary features naturally lit classrooms, large windows with views of nature, and outdoor learning spaces. The architects at VMDO chose these biophilic features in an effort to create the best possible environment for children and teachers. While this case study focuses on a school environment, the biophilic design features can be applied to other building types, such as offices, stores, hospitals, and homes. Read more »