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
A county purchased real property with the intention of preserving it for use as an industrial park or for sale to a business seeking to locate within the county. Authority for making the purchase of land was G.S. 158-7.1. County officials followed the advice provided in this prior post and held a public hearing, properly noticed, prior to approving the purchase of property. Now the county is the proud owner of a fine piece of dirt not far from the highway, but for the moment, there is no room in the budget for making other improvements, such as installing utilities infrastructure. That’s perfectly fine, reasons Tim Taylor, the county economic developer. The county will simply hold on to the land until the budget permits the county to construct improvements or until an interested business purchases the land.
Tim is not the type to sit around and wait for something to happen. Tim markets the property in several economic development trade publications and prepares to bring prospective businesses by the site. After lining up a company to visit the site next week, Tim drives by the property and notices that the grass is too high and that someone dumped heavy vehicle debris on the property. That simply won’t do, Tim thinks to himself, and he visits the purchasing officer in order to make arrangements for grass cutting and for a salvage company to clean up the debris. “Sorry, Tim, you must have missed the memo,” The purchasing officer smiles—Tim has the feeling he is being mocked. “The county manager just reminded all of us that a public hearing is required prior to making any expenditures pertaining to this economic development property. If you want to mow the grass and get that debris picked up, you’ll need to talk to the county manager about setting a public hearing.” Tim is speechless. Does he need a public hearing to have the grass mowed? Read more »
Funding sources to capitalize revolving loan funds is the fourth topic in a series on tools local governments can use to assist small businesses. As discussed in Part II of this blog post series, local governments across North Carolina are using revolving loan funds to support their small businesses. A difficulty in establishing revolving loan funds is capitalizing them. The federal government currently offers at least five programs to assist local governments and nonprofits capitalize revolving loan funds: Read more »
The work of community development is very much tied to place. Even though today we speak of virtual communities or communities of practice that are disconnected from place, when we speak of community development we are talking about developing the capacity of local communities–neighborhoods, towns, regions. Wendell Berry is one of America’s preeminent thinkers and writers on sustainable communities and the importance of having a sense of place in particular. Berry has said “if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”
In Part I of the mega sites blog, we presented the “body-building” rationale for this industrial recruitment tool. In Part II, we’ll some risks of a mega site regimen and begin by introducing a new analogy:
Attracting a major manufacturer with a mega site is a bit like fishing in a crowded pond. After crafting a shiny lure and casting it strategically, you can only hope that 10-pound bass doesn’t take someone else’s bait.
If you make the catch, then the returns are significant. For instance, an economic impact analysis of the Jefferson County, TN, mega site projects that over 30 years it would yield $11 in local tax revenue for every $1 the public invested to develop the site. But, if you don’t land that fish, such speculation can come at significant cost to taxpayers. Read more »
The so called triple bottom line (TBL) in economic development calls for promoting growth in ways that are environmentally sustainable and that yield positive social returns. (See Portland State University’s Initiative on Triple Bottom Line Development.) The TBL framework takes into account the economic, environmental, and social aspects of growth and development efforts and recognizes the connections among them. Recruiting a manufacturing plant to town will boost the local economy, but how will it affect the natural environment? To what extent will the new plant be good for the community as a whole in terms of its effects on the quality of life, local culture, civic infrastructure, and the like? This is a much more holistic and comprehensive way of thinking about economic development and is quite challenging to measure as a result. 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.
Details emerging on possible transition to delivering economic development services through a public-private partnership at the state level in North Carolina: bit.ly/18YBdhz.
Fascinating history of urban renewal and redevelopment in New Bern, North Carolina: bit.ly/12M1NbT. Looking forward to the next installment on June 2.
Center for Housing Policy report sheds light on the plight of working renters. In North Carolina, 20.9% of working renters spent over half their income on housing in 2011, up from 18.0% in 2008. Compare to rates nationwide, where 26.4% of working renters spent over half their income on housing in 2011, up 3% since 2008. bit.ly/13Pi8NL.
Mill redevelopment in Gastonia, North Carolina gets national coverage Read more »
North Carolina is one of the few Southeastern states that do not host a major auto assembly plant. But for how much longer? With automotive manufacturing employment on the rise again, economic development officials are preparing to be the preferred destination for the next carmaker.
In order to add mass to its industrial recruitment muscle, North Carolina is supplementing its economic development diet with a healthy dose of “mega sites” that it hopes will tip the scales with prospective manufacturers. Read more »
Municipal water systems across the state serve a wide range of customers. In the industry, retail water customers are typically classified as residential and non-residential – the bulk of which are referred to as CII (commercial, institutional, industrial) customers. Each year, the UNC School of Government’s Environmental Finance Center and the North Carolina League of Municipalities conduct a survey of the water and wastewater rates charged by public water systems across the state. Predominantly, this survey is used to discuss and compare residential charges for water and wastewater service. This focus on residential rate occurs perhaps because newspapers, board members, and subsequently, staff focus on these rates to discuss and compare the impact of rate adjustments on the “average” household served. But there are a number of economic development and utility cost recovery considerations in how water utilities set rates for “CII” customers less commonly compared. Below is a summary discussion of how water systems in the state are currently charging their non-residential retail customers.
This is the third in a series of blog posts on tools available to local governments to assist small businesses. Previous posts have covered revolving loan funds (parts I and II). A second option is a loan-loss reserve fund.
What is a loan-loss reserve fund?
A loan-loss reserve fund (LLRF) involves a partnership between a non-financial institution, such as a local government, and a financial institution. The non-financial institution deposits money in a financial institution for the purpose of creating a loan loss reserve for loans made to small businesses associated with the non-financial institution.
Whenever a financial institution makes a loan, it has to set aside a certain percentage of that loan to cover any potential losses from a default. Financial institutions prefer to set aside as little funding as possible because these funds sit idle. This set aside is called a loan-loss reserve. Read more »
The main purpose of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) is to expand access to capital in low-wealth and underserved communities in order to foster economic development and revitalization. Many of these communities have been left out of the financial mainstream, unable to access financial services and capital from traditional banks. In recent years, particularly after the Great Recession, the credit market tightened even further. Large banks pulled back from small business lending and enacted tighter lending criteria. As a result, many entrepreneurs—even those that were previously able to secure small business loans—were left struggling to access the credit they needed to startup or expand their businesses. That is where CDFIs come into play.
CDFIs are typically smaller institutions that are able to evaluate businesses on a broad range of criteria—not just credit scores— and benefit from a close relationship with their borrowers Read more »