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 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 »
The ubiquitous strip mall lines arterial roads in, out, and often through nearly every town and city in the United States and presents unique challenges to communities in North Carolina looking to revitalize aging commercial corridors. While big-box stores have undergone creative transformations to remain active spaces and indoor shopping malls attract catalytic revitalization efforts as discussed in previous CED blog posts, the many small strip malls characterized by a small or no anchor tenants have struggled to combat vacancy, with 2011 seeing the highest vacancy rates nationally at over 11%, leading to eyesores for communities and challenges for local planners and developers.
From 15-501 in the Triangle to Charlotte’s 56 designated Business Corridors slated for potential redevelopment, North Carolina’s retail landscape is filled with strip mall development with high redevelopment opportunities. Mixed use retrofit of strip malls has been touted as bringing added value to commercial corridors, better serve aging baby-boomers who would like to age-in-place but don’t want or cannot depend on auto-oriented centers, and as a way to better utilize existing infrastructure in the inner suburbs of urban areas. Why then, has there been so few successful redevelopments, and even less retrofits? The answer lies with the nature of strip malls and the land use associated with them. Their solutions take vision, creativity and planning to accomplish. 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:
The role of Historic and New Markets Tax Credit equity in the rehabilitation of the historic Holloway Street School in East Durham for a KIPP charter school: http://bit.ly/1ULipya
Cautionary tale for economic development business recruiters: Virginia “duped” into granting incentive to company: http://theatln.tc/1O2eDzb
Detailed recap of Winston-Salem’s “State of the Community” address and progress with infrastructure and economic development. http://bit.ly/1TnmkwM
Following national trends, North Carolina’s economy has become less “dynamic” over time in terms of new business startups and other measures: http://bit.ly/1TIQNYt
In the last couple decades the biotechnology industry has seen substantial growth globally and in the United States where the industry has reached a market capitalization of over $1 trillion (EY Biotechnology Industry Report). Growth in the biotech industry has soared as well in North Carolina following the state’s long-term investment starting in the 1980s with the creation of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech), a nonprofit based in Research Triangle Park. As a testament of NC’s biotech industry strength, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News ranked the Raleigh-Durham area as one of the top 10 biotech clusters in the country based on National Institute of Health funding, venture capital funding, patents, lab space, and jobs. Today, there are over 600 life science companies in NC employing 61,000 people at an average salary of $81,000. Read more »
This April, the North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer hosted a conference on “Sparking Sustainability and Innovation: Together, Let’s Build a Stronger Future”. The conference was designed to foster discussion around how innovation and sustainability are integral to creating and maintaining long-term stability for North Carolina communities. Successful economic development initiatives often rely on and are strengthened by vibrant, innovative, and sustainable communities, so this conference was aimed at sharing strategies, success stories, and identifying challenges and opportunities for North Carolina local governments.
The start of the 2016-2017 fiscal year will bring with it a new property tax exclusion aimed at residential and commercial development. Known informally as the “builders’ inventory” exclusion, the new law was passed as S.L. 2015-223 and will be codified as G.S. 105-277.02.
In today’s blog, I offer a quick overview of the new exclusion and highlight some issues that developers need to keep in mind if they intend to benefit from it. Read more »