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 cost of installing solar panels has been in steady decline since 2010, and the residential market for solar panel installations on home roofs is experiencing rapid growth. With growing demand and several policy incentives for solar installations, incorporating solar power into real estate development projects can be an attractive option for investors. Read more »
NBC News recently aired a short feel-good story during its Nightly News broadcast about a code enforcement officer working for the City of Petaluma, California. Joe Garcia had received multiple complaints about a dilapidated home surrounded by overgrown weeds. Clearly the home was out of compliance, and so the natural course of action would be a warning and fine. But that’s not what happened. What happened instead is an example not only of decency and caring, but of the power within communities to build community and improve quality of life through partnerships. In this case, Joe learned about the homeowner, WWII vet Albert Pericou. He found out that Mr. Pericou lacked the resources and physical ability to keep up with his property. Joe realized that something could be done about it. He knew about a non-profit organization called Rebuilding Together and made a connection between Mr. Pericou and the organization. Before long, community volunteers, including Joe Garcia, with the help of a $10,000 donation by Home Depot, were giving Mr. Pericou’s home and yard a makeover.
Public Markets are often used as a tool in downtown revitalization. They are attractive uses for vacant building with large footprints and bring high value and high-demand local food options to consumers, drive foot traffic, and catalyze new development. In the last 20 years, Portland, Maine, has seen two models of Public Markets try to bring the energy and options of Public Markets. The Portland Public Market set an innovative model of philanthropic foundation leadership, but failed to find success in its large-format, appearance-first space. In contrast, the Portland Public Market House is a successful model that brought vendor ownership and management and location choice to overcome building layout and financing challenges. Read more »
Biophilic design offers solutions in the face of a world that is quickly urbanizing and taxing our health, our wallets, and our environment. Compared with more rural settings, urban environments make people more stressed, do greater harm to the environment, and cost their taxpayers more money. There are costs to city life. Urban environments – with their steel, concrete and crowded spaces – are, quite literally, unnatural. Yet that’s where the world is headed and we need answers on how to best exist in these spaces.
As discussed in the first and second blogposts of this series, biophilic design is the idea of bringing aspects of nature indoors and it offers numerous benefits to a building’s occupants. It boosts worker productivity, decreases the length of hospital stays, improves student test scores, and increases residential property values, to name just a few. 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:
NC economist proposes economic development strategy for the state: focus on industries with high productivity, such as agriculture, utilities, non-durable manufacturing, and finance: http://bit.ly/2jRLEQU
DFI helps Hendersonville, NC consider an Urban Redevelopment Area as part of a neighborhood revitalization strategy. http://bit.ly/2j3GWlA
North Carolina economic development professionals react: will the new Governor sever contract with new business recruitment nonprofit EDPNC? http://bit.ly/2isrETz
Raleigh developer says: “I’ll help pay for sidewalks near my development”. Should the City put him ahead of higher priority areas? http://bit.ly/2iWJCkw
Other CED items:
Baby boomers are aging in place, creating naturally occurring retirement communities (NORCs) in urban and rural areas. http://politi.co/2jrw2I1
Despite public perceptions of affordable housing negatively impacting nearby property values, there is evidence to suggest that the impact is minimal if at all. Trulia, an online residential real estate site, recently conducted a study indicating that low-income housing tax credit (read more on LIHTC here) projects have no impact on the value of nearby properties. According to Trulia’s study, there was no significant effect from 1996 to 2006 on home values located near a LIHTC project. Trulia studied 20 markets across the country and of the 20, there was a negative impact in only 2 cities, Boston and Cambridge. There was drop of near $20 per square foot in housing prices; however, this was explained by quick bursts in the construction of affordable housing. In Denver, there was actually an $7 per square foot increase in value.
Based on available literature, negative perceptions of affordable housing potentially outweigh research suggesting that affordable housing does not negatively impact property values. This blog post will dive into some of these academic studies to better understand the monetary and social facets of affordable housing and its impact. Read more »
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 »