Kinston, NC

Development Finance Initiative: Rebuilding North Carolina one town at a time – Southern City

This article was originally published in the November/December edition of Southern City, as “Rebuilding [more…]
Aerial downtown

How a North Carolina Local Government Can Operate a Land Bank for Redevelopment

If America’s cities and towns are to realize their greatest potential as attractive and [more…]
Shell building under construction 2

When May NC Local Governments Pay an Economic Development Incentive?

News outlets regularly report about the latest company that was lured to North Carolina [more…]
maureen joy

Historic School Redevelopment (Durham, NC)

Yesterday, Sept 4th, community leaders, elected officials, school administrators and a team from Self-Help [more…]

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 |

  • DFI Case Study: Attracting Private Investment for the Redevelopment of a Downtown Parking Deck

    Water-St-Deck_aerial_sizedThe City of Wilmington, North Carolina, hired the Development Finance Initiative (DFI) in 2013 to conduct a pre-development process for the Water Street Parking Deck. The parking deck is an aging public parking facility prominently located in the city’s historic downtown on the Cape Fear riverfront.

    Wilmington is one of North Carolina’s largest and fastest growing cities and a popular tourist destination. Its downtown area is an economic and social hub for the region. With a nearly 300-block historic district, the area includes cobblestone streets with ancient trees and lovingly restored historic homes, restaurants, shops, music and art venues, hotels, a river walk, a college campus, and a convention center.

    The Challenge

    The two-story Water Street Parking Deck was constructed in the 1960s and sits on 1.2 acres along Water Street overlooking the Cape Fear River. Though it is nearing functional obsolescence, the parking deck serves as primary public parking for tourists and locals alike. Surrounded by vibrant retail and entertainment businesses, the parking deck is an eyesore.

    City officials long believed that a parking structure alone was not the highest and best use for the high-profile location. They envisioned a future for the site that would spur additional private investment while respecting the historic fabric of the surrounding built environment.  Read more »

  • Working Across Boundaries: The Tryon International Equestrian Center

    Source: http://tryon.coth.com

    Source: http://tryon.coth.com

    I’d like to recommend a recent article in the Palm Beach Post that tells the story of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, located in Polk County, North Carolina. It is framed as a “missed opportunity” for the City of Wellington, Florida. Wellington is already a major player in the equestrian world, but missed the chance to host this new “Disneyland for equestrians” due to “a paralyzing political climate” and a lack of the kind of capacity for collaboration that this project required. On the other hand, it is a story of how working across boundaries is critically important in economic development.

    Read more »

  • The Downtown School

    PromiseSchool may still be out for summer, but the CED blog is taking another look at the role that education plays in community and economic development. As earlier posts on teacher housing developments, downtown community colleges, an, most recently, the repurposing of historic school buildings have examined, education can play a very important role in creating vibrant, thriving communities — places where people can live, work, play and learn.

    In Winston-Salem, one can see those four ingredients all in action at The Downtown School, a public school serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WSFCS) district. Housed in a 1925 building that was formerly part of the City Market in downtown Winston-Salem, the school is an example of what it may look like for a public school to be at the heart of a downtown. Read more »

  • Can you feel it Coming in the Air? Rural Economic Development and Wind Farms

    http://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/g49k6/picture27159454/ALTERNATES/FREE_640/IR-0045_01-2007Money may not literally grow on trees, but a glance at North Carolina’s rural economies reveals that cash crops sprout not just in our long-cultivated cotton and tobacco fields: they now also root in the steep hillsides of northwestern Christmas tree farms and navigate the waters flowing through the mountains and along the coast. The recent unveiling of plans for a large wind farm in northeastern North Carolina point to the air above farmland as the growing medium for the state’s newest cash crop. Just how excited should wind-tousled economic developers and public officials be?

    Windfall Revenues

    In mid-July, Amazon, the online retail giant, and Spanish energy company Iberdrola Renewables announced that they would build a 34-square-mile wind farm in Perquimans and Pasquotank counties. The 104 turbines that make up the first phase of the so-called Amazon Wind Farm US East will provide electricity for use by Amazon data centers in Virginia and Ohio beginning in December 2016. When fully built, the wind farm will have 150 turbines.  Read more »

  • What’s the Deal with Certified Sites?

    Local officials and economic developers increasingly seek to have certain industrial sites designated as “certified”. But what does that mean exactly? What does the process of getting an industrial site certified entail? Who does the certification? What difference, if any, does certification make? Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: July 2015

    CED_Icon_for_TwitterThe 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:

    In-depth report compares the riverfront redevelopment potential in Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC: http://avlne.ws/1H2lWwx

    Will North Carolina’s Golden Leaf Foundation receive funding once again for its economic development grants and programs? http://bit.ly/1gjr8Xl

    Local news report describes textile industry cluster in Lincoln County, NC and the role of its county economic development corporation: http://bit.ly/1dIVAYX

    News & Observer article on NC Senate budget proposal that could impact Municipal Service Districts: if 15% of registered voters within the district petitioned for a referendum, voters living within the district boundaries would vote on whether to end the special tax and the services it funds: http://bit.ly/1MarXvE

    Federal Reserve System release new list of census tracts, many of which are in North Carolina, where banks receive Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit for revitalization: http://1.usa.gov/1HwW9xK

    Rocky Mount, NC Brewmill redevelopment project has its first two tenants: a brewery and a business accelerator: http://bit.ly/1Ka0eLs Read more »

  • Five Dangerous Myths for Small Water Systems

    Small water systems serving 10,000 people or less comprise more than 94% of our nation’s public water systems. They are a large and diverse group, and are managed by a wide variety actors – from local and tribal governments, to mobile home park owners, to homeowners associations, to shopping mall operators and hotel managers. These managers often have many other, very different responsibilities and often face challenges in running the water system. In 2011, 25 percent of the nation’s smallest systems violated health-based standards in part due to their geographic isolation, small staff size, growing infrastructure needs and small customer bases. And as we wrote about earlier this year, small water systems with financial difficulties are more likely to have violations.

    Since 2012, the Environmental Finance Center at UNC and the Environmental Finance Center Network have been working to help educate and build financial and managerial capacity within small water systems. Through our work under the Smart Management for Small Water Systems Project, we’ve noticed 5 dangerous myths in financial planning. These myths can appear wherever water system planning occurs, but seem to be most prevalent among smaller communities that are considering creating a new or significantly expanded water system.

    Read more »

  • Off the Tracks: Development and Railroad Rights-of-Way in North Carolina

    Railroad Tracks in Kinston, NC

    At the system’s peak—during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency—railways stretched 254,000 miles across the United States. A century later, due to greater efficiencies and more diversity of transport options, 139,000 miles of tracks remain. 3,300 of these miles are in North Carolina, which makes the state’s rail network the 18th largest in the US (Texas, with over 10,000 miles of tracks, wins handily; Hawaii, without a single mile, is last on the list).

    Though regular intrastate train travel is infeasible for most North Carolinians due to the scarcity of passenger rail service, many communities are not far from tracks used for hauling freight. In fact, it was the placement of the railroad that drove growth in many towns across North Carolina (and economic development was an intended consequence of the railroad when the state chartered the North Carolina Railroad Company (NCRR) in the mid-nineteenth century). Thus, as North Carolina towns reinvest in their downtowns—and especially as they target redevelopment efforts at the mill buildings and warehouses that grew up along the tracks—public officials and developers need to be aware of the constraints on development near railroad tracks. Read more »

  • You say you want “Big Data” for Community Economic Development, but are you ready for it?

    When you make a decision to go forward with a Community Economic Development (CED) project or policy, have you thought through the ramifications for your staff or budget? This year, a course paper on body worn cameras written by a graduate student in the MPA program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is gaining attention — but not because it touches on sensitive political or racial issues. It’s focus appears much more mundane – how a simple retention policy decision can have major implications for the entire IT department and local government budget. For CED professionals, it is a cautionary tale on understanding your capacity to adequately implement a policy or program before you adopt it. Read more »

  • Getting Schooled: Creative Reuse of Historic School Buildings

    Copyright Justin Cook | September 4, 2013 - The ribbon cutting at Maureen Joy Charter School in Driver Street in Durham.

    Copyright Justin Cook | September 4, 2013 – The ribbon cutting at Maureen Joy Charter School in Driver Street in Durham.

    In the last 15 years, enrollment in urban schools in 12 cities across the United States (primarily located in the northern states and in rustbelt cities) has dropped an average of 32%, forcing a number of schools to be closed down and students transported to other areas of the city to consolidate resources. Many of these schools were built early in the 20th century and are outdated by modern academic standards – they may be difficult to wire for internet or modern learning aids such as projectors and portable charging stations. These schools may also need considerable upgrades to vital utilities like plumbing and HVAC to be comfortable and conducive to the learning environment. However, these urban schools are often also integral parts of the neighborhood, and leaving them vacant can prove detrimental to the health and vitality of the neighborhood. While the challenges for these large, aging structures are great, their possibilities for adaptive reuse are extensive and can help provide stability in rapidly changing parts of the urban environment.  Read more »

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