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
The CED blog has previously written about the importance of New Market Tax Credits, and their place in the process for developing real estate transactions (a primer can be found here, and a discussion of the process for investment can be found here). Briefly, these credits are designed to drive capital to underserved communities, notably those which are determined to be ‘highly distressed,’ and provide investors with a 39% tax credit, paid over seven years, for investments in qualified projects. Credits are allocated to designated Community Development Entities (CDEs), which then select impactful projects in which to invest. Because funding for the Program is limited, investments tend to be highly competitive: this makes the impact of the project extremely important, and allocations often tend to concentrate around the various CDE’s mission targets, which could range from solar energy, to rural health, to small business development, to any number of other things. Read more »
In July 2013, I wrote a blog proposing a four-part framework for understanding if specific local organizations have the capacity to implement CED programs. How well does this framework hold up when actually used? We answer this question using interviews with 31 local partners, over the past two years around a single, federally-funded, locally-administered community program in North Carolina. About half have given up on running the program. Read more »
Alleys, in the American context, are cramped spaces tucked behind commercial buildings that house the ancillary services businesses and households require such as trash removal, utility access, and deliveries. Glimpsed only momentarily by passing pedestrians, these spaces are often perceived as dirty, unwelcoming, and even unsafe. In contrast, pre-automotive cities such as London, Kyoto, and Melbourne, have a network of alleys (or laneways) meant explicitly for pedestrians. As shortcuts and intimate retail spaces alleys in these cities are clean, safe, and home to creative expression. Now small towns and cities across North Carolina like Kinston, Brevard, and New Bern are seeing successful renovation and investment in alleys. How can other communities looking to bring value and vibrancy to downtowns energize these neglected spaces? Read more »
Finding the Hard Numbers for a Rising Problem: A Method of Calculating Demand for Affordable Senior Housing
The supply of affordable senior rental housing is a growing concern across North Carolina. The source of this problem is linked to North Carolina’s growing senior population and a rising overall demand for affordable rental housing. As mentioned in a previous blog post, by the year 2050, according to the US Census, the nation’s senior population is expected to almost double. At the same time, North Carolina is one of the top states in relative baby boomer growth; a fact that comes as no surprise to those choosing to relocate to North Carolina for retirement.
Throughout the country’s slow recovery from the Great Recession, the housing market has gained steam mostly because of rental demand. According to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard, the nation’s share of renter’s is 36%, and the current rental housing market is at its tightest since the 1960’s. Vacancy rates are at a five-year low. During the beginning of the housing market recovery, a significant share of new rental properties resulted from the conversion of former owner-occupied dwellings. Today, this reconfiguration has slowed and new building is picking up, though newer rental housing is mostly targeted towards those with higher incomes. 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:
Rural broadband is important but difficult to provide – this is what economic development organizations in Haywood County, North Carolina are doing about it: http://bit.ly/1srgAeS
New faculty position in economics at Western Carolina University to focus on regional economic development: http://avlne.ws/294lFkg
Journal of Tax Credits shares an analysis of the role of concerted community revitalization plans in state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) allocations (QAP). http://bit.ly/1U9Ld1v
North Carolina Governor McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper discuss economic development: JDIG incentive, state economic development nonprofit, and crowdfunding: http://bit.ly/2918UWp
Should North Carolina still allow H-1B foreign workers to count toward state incentive job creation requirements? http://bit.ly/1tvMQxp
The role of local food systems in supporting community and economic development is a topic that has received significant coverage on the CED blog. Blog contributor and SOG faculty member Rick Morse has covered this topic extensively on this blog, sharing strategies to promote local food initiatives, including resources specific to North Carolina, while contributor and faculty member Jonathan Morgan recently discussed how a community might go about quantifying and measuring the economic development impact of local foods systems.
United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) offers several grants and programs directly to applicants and to states that can help communities develop their own local food systems. This post will highlight several of their programs designed to improve access to and expand production of locally and regionally produced foods: Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), Specialty Crop Program, and the Organic Certification Cost Share Program. An additional cornerstone USDA program, Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), used by the City of Raleigh to establish their downtown farmers market, is also described in this post. Read more »
County officials from Tarheel County as well as City officials from the county seat were approached by two residential developers who are seeking to construct housing that is affordable to low and moderate income (LMI) persons. One developer, DoGooder Inc., is a private, for-profit developer who intends to construct multi-family housing in which half of the twenty apartment units will be rented at a rate that is affordable to LMI persons. DoGooder is financing the project through conventional private financing but has asked the City and County for a cash subsidy to “make the project feasible.” The other developer, Good Habits for Humans, is a nonprofit corporation whose staff and volunteers plan to construct one single family home and sell it to a family headed by a LMI person. Good Habits has asked the City and County to provide a cash grant to help them pay for staff supervision and construction materials for the project.
This post describes the legal authority for the City and County to provide the requested subsidies and explains some important differences between City and County authority in this area. Read more »
In development, it is often easier to start from scratch – buy a property, clear the land, and begin building the structure you want. In fact, this is frequently the most cost effective way to develop a property: old structures can literally be ‘messy,’ with major deferred maintenance, old systems, and outdated uses commonly making it cost prohibitive to bring an old building back to life.
However, at the same time many of our State’s older buildings are beautiful, character-rich structures which should be worth saving. North Carolina’s history of textiles and manufacturing alone has left the state with hundreds of beautiful buildings with fascinating histories, plus detailing and charm that would be nearly impossible to replicate. At the same time, as much as a developer might wish to preserve a structure, financial realities must prevail, and some properties are simply not financially viable as they are.
Readers of the CED blog should be aware of the existence of Historic Tax Credits, and the value of their use in the redevelopment space (see previous posts here, here, and here). However, to the owner of a historic structure, or someone hoping to invest in one, the process might seem far too complex and daunting to be worth their time. This common misperception leads property owners to follow the path of least resistance, and allow their properties to fall into further disrepair. Read more »
I am just finishing a pre-publication version of a forthcoming book by Melody Warnick titled “This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live” (available June 21, 2016). Warnick is a fellow-blogger on the Community Engagement Learning Exchange, writing about all things community from the perspective of a “regular” citizen (i.e. not an academic and not a public or nonprofit professional). Warnick is a freelance journalist and has been published in many prominent magazines, but This is Where You Belong is her first book. And it is excellent. I will be writing a proper review of the book soon, but for now I’d like to simply recommend the book and point out why folks interested in community and economic development might find this book useful and inspiring.
Could you imagine living in a 135 square foot apartment? Well, a dozen students at the Savannah College of Art and Design did just that. Along with alumni and professors, the students turned a class project into reality. Through a special use permit, students temporarily lived in these micro-units in an underutilized parking deck in Atlanta. While not a full repurposing of a parking deck, the SCADpad is one take on how to repurpose decks in the future.
Parking decks can be unattractive, costly to build and operate, and tied down to potentially valuable downtown land that might not even be taxed. The US Census estimates that there are 105 million parking spots in the US; however, other estimates bring that number to 750 million! Even with alternative transportation options, the car still rules which means parking decks will continue to take up valuable downtown space in the foreseeable future. However, what happens when that foreseeable future is actually all not that distant, when cars no longer are the popular transportation option? What happens to those massive concrete parking decks? Depending on the design and material choices, parking decks will fall apart or become underutilized. Read more »