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 |

  • Leveraging anchor institutions: A new land bank model in Chapel Hill

    Northside_announce_140AAcross the country, local governments are increasingly embracing land banking as a key strategy to catalyze and control the revitalization of their vacant and abandoned properties. But as described in this post on the CED blog, North Carolina local governments can cobble together the statutory authority to operate a land bank, a power that in some states is explicitly granted to municipalities. A new land bank launched in Chapel Hill in recent weeks as part of the Northside Neighborhood Initiative demonstrates an innovative partnership model that might be replicated elsewhere in the state, especially in communities that host large anchor institutions.  Read more »

  • The Heart of Collaborative Leadership

    Water_HeartThe need for collaborative leaders in communities and regions has never been greater. Most, if not all, of the community development issues we grapple with are highly complex and “boundary crossing,” meaning they cut across organizational, jurisdictional, and sectoral boundaries.

    Collaborative leaders are catalysts who bring stakeholders together to address shared issues. They are conveners and facilitators that lead more from the middle than from the front. Much has been written in recent years about the skill set of these post-hierarchical leaders. They are systems thinkers. They are effective facilitators and negotiators. They help resolve conflict.

    But in my observation it isn’t the skill set that sets collaborative leaders apart. Rather, personal attributes, one’s “heart” if you will, is the real difference-maker when it comes to leading across boundaries as a catalyst, as a collaborative leader.

    Read more »

  • New Markets Tax Credits: The Process and Key Considerations

    Johnston County's Four Oaks Business Park used NMTCs

    This blog post is a follow up to the Primer on New Markets Tax Credits. This is the second in a series of posts that seek to provide detailed information on the NMTC program and process. Read more »

  • Know Thy Clusters

    The concept of industry clusters has significantly influenced our thinking about economic development in the last 15 years. It’s the idea that having a concentration of related industries in a location can benefit firms and regions in ways that enhance their competitive advantage. When firms in related industries locate in close proximity and reach critical mass they will often attract supplier firms and enjoy lower transaction costs as a result. The host region can support the “cluster” by using its local organizations to ensure that a skilled labor force exists and to provide specialized talent, services, technologies, and infrastructure for firms. As I discuss here, the linkages and interdependencies among firms, industries, and supporting organizations we observe in many high-performing regional clusters are thought to be essential. So, how can a region identify its clusters and assess their strength and performance? Read more »

  • Easing the Federal Excise Tax on Brewers

    taproomDueling bills have been introduced in Congress aimed at reducing the federal excise tax on brewers in an effort to support the industry.

    Some have called it a beer movement, others a brewing renaissance, but regardless of how it’s described craft brewing is alive, well, and continuing to grow in the state of North Carolina. According to the North Carolina Brewer’s Guild, the Tar Heel State is currently home to over 100 breweries and brewpubs, with more opening every month, and over the past two years has become the destination-of-choice for larger scale, west coast craft brewers looking to establish east coast operations. Thanks to North Carolina’s brewer-friendly production and distribution regulations, Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery opened their east coast operations in Brevard, NC in 2013, earlier this month California-based Sierra Nevada opened doors to their east coast distribution facility in Mills River, NC, and by the end of 2015 Colorado-based New Belgium Brewery expects to open their Asheville brewing facility. Here in North Carolina and across the country craft brewing continues to contribute to job creation and economic growth. According to the Brewers Association, nation-wide in 2012 craft brewing contributed more than 360,000 jobs to the U.S. economy with North Carolina’s craft beer industry generating as much as $791 million in state-wide economic impact, with significant growth in the industry since.  Read more »

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

    CED_Icon_for_Twitter1The 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:

    North Carolina’s Secretary of State Elaine Marshall requests fee increases to regulate crowdfunding, if legislation passes: ‪ 

    Wood-based industries, eco-tourism, and sustainable forestry at center of wood products economic development strategy in western North Carolina: ‪ 

    New 2015 report card from Prevention Partners speculates that unhealthy citizens could make more an unhealthy economy – poor health increases healthcare costs, which may dissuade some out-of-state companies from relocating to North Carolina: ‪ 

    City of Kannapolis purchases 46 acres of downtown property – UNC-CH SOG’s Development Finance Initiative to assist with the revitalization of downtown: ‪  and ‪ 

    “Sunshine week” report on closed sessions by local governments in western North Carolina, many for economic development: ‪   Read more »

  • CDFI Profile: The Support Center

    71cce9b59b37271682748c3d90bcf1aeOftentimes, small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to start businesses require capital to do so but do not have the track record necessary to be eligible for loans from traditional sources. Additionally, they may not have the size or scale to justify their lending needs. However, the ability of entrepreneurs to create small businesses is an important component of economic development and without access to capital, these companies struggle to ever get off the ground. Many Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) seek to fill this gap that exists in the market by providing capital to small business in their initial stages of development.  Read more »

  • Key Financial Indicators: Operating Ratio

    In previous posts, we have discussed where to find data to help make smart financial and managerial decisions. Another vital data source for any enterprise is its own financial statements, from which enterprises can calculate key financial indicators.

    Let’s look at key financial indicators from the perspective of a business-like unit within government–a water or wastewater system.  Key financial indicators are a way for that enterprise to get a snapshot of its financial health and to determine whether it needs to make adjustments to its rates, and they should be calculated annually when financial statements are released. One important financial indicator is operating ratio, which measures the ratio of annual operating revenues to annual operating expenses. To be a true enterprise fund that is self-supporting, a system should strive to have at least as much operating revenue as it has operating expenses, if not more. Otherwise, the system would be operating at a loss.

    Read more »

  • Primer on New Markets Tax Credits


    Golden Belt in Durham, NC used NMTCs

    New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) are mentioned in several other blog posts, but normally as part of a list of various development financing tools. This is the first in a series of posts that seek to provide detailed information on the NMTC program and process.


    The NMTC program was enacted by Congress as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000. The goal of the program is to spur growth in low-income communities by providing tax incentives to investors who invest in certified Community Development Entities. Distressed areas eligible for NMTC projects are defined as areas with a poverty rate greater than 20%, and a median income not exceeding 80% of the area median. If you are not sure as to whether or not a particular area qualifies for NMTC’s, this map is a useful tool. Read more »

  • Conveyance of Local Government Property to Nonprofit EDC for Industrial Park

    Business Park SignRay Kinsella leads the nonprofit economic development corporation (the “EDC”) that was jointly formed by the county and its largest city in the early 2000s, and that is now governed by an independent board of directors. Ray has heard some optimistic forecasts of “re-shoring” of manufacturing facilities to the United States, and he has a plan to take advantage of the possible trend. He proposes for the EDC to build a new industrial park with the help of the county and city. Upon completion of the park, Ray believes the available land with new infrastructure will attract manufacturing facilities to the local area.

    The EDC hasn’t amassed enough privately-raised capital to undertake the project on its own, and private developers and investors don’t have an appetite for the project, so Ray’s plan depends on direct local government support. Ray proposes for the county to contribute the land for the park by conveying a 500-acre tract of land, which the county already owns, to the EDC for one dollar. The tract lies outside of city limits, but Ray thinks he can convince the city to provide water and sewer. Ray plans to market the tract to manufacturing companies, and when a company decides to locate in the park, the EDC will sell the required land to the company. Ray hopes the EDC can keep the proceeds from any sale, and then the EDC would use those retained proceeds for future economic development activities.

    Is the EDC’s proposed structure allowable? In a word, no. Read more »

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