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 municipalities in providing high-speed Internet access may change in the near future. In July, Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Tennessee, both of which have public optical fiber networks, petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address laws in numerous states restricting the ability of municipalities to offer broadband services. The North Carolina law, passed by the General Assembly in 2011, placed onerous regulations on any town or city attempting to provide a broadband network to residents or businesses. Since Wilson built its system before the law was put in place, it is grandfathered in to pre-existing rules. However, expansion to the system is not currently permitted.
Many municipalities see high speed Internet as a utility to be treated no differently than other utilities like electricity or water. Conversely, proponents of the existing law, primarily cable companies and other broadband providers, see public involvement in broadband networks as government interference that may hinder private companies. Action by the FCC in favor of Wilson and Chattanooga’s petition would supersede the state law and open the door to public investment in high-speed Internet networks in states where regulations currently exist. Read more »
While larger towns, counties and state governments are promoting their online services, and investing in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, how can smaller towns make sure they are not left behind? Community development entails on the ground, high-touch work. But potential employers and residents tied to their I-phone or Android are increasingly expecting town government to “reach them where they are” – which is often online.
A good starting point for small town leaders who want to build their IT profile comes from an author who grew up in an Illinois town of 13,000 before going to San Francisco.
Abhi Nemani briefly describes eight tools for civic technology, most of which can apply to small towns: Read more »
Retail development continues to be reliant on the anchor tenant, defined in the ICSC Glossary of Terms as the primary tenant and consumer draw in a mall or large shopping center that makes the overall development economically viable. Visit your nearest shopping center in Anytown, USA and these businesses, your department store or grocery chain, intentionally overwhelm the smaller, adjacent tenants. Anchor tenants are thought to be the linchpin for success of retail center – they draw customers into the retail development and drive traffic towards neighboring establishments. Similarly, if the anchor tenant fails, this can have a devastating impact on the other, smaller tenants that remain, decreasing rental rates and the overall value of the development. The recent spate of store closings in already struggling shopping malls across the United States illustrates what happens when anchor tenants go dark.
In response to the economic recession and increased competition from online retailers, shopping centers developers are beginning to shift this paradigm and seek out non-traditional anchor tenants, such as a public library. These non-traditional anchor tenants improve the possibility of reinvestment in declining retail centers while also re-characterizing today’s retail development. Exploring these market trends offers a glimpse into future development in local communities around the state. Read more »
North Carolina property tax law, nicknamed the Machinery Act, contains over 60 full or partial exemptions for property as diverse as free drug samples, uranium 233, and Loyal Order of the Moose clubhouses.
A number of these exemptions are aimed at property that might be part of a local government’s community economic development plans. This blog attempts to identify these economic development exemptions and summarize their key statutory provisions. If you think we’ve missed any relevant exemptions, please don’t be shy—that’s what the comment section is for! Read more »
A previous post discussed the benefits of conducting community housing assessments for local governments and non-profit organizations interested in community and economic development. This post will discuss the methods and strategies that interested stakeholders, from local governments to neighborhood residents, can use to design and conduct assessments of the local built environment.
Why assess the built environment?
Conducting an “on the ground” survey of the built environment in a specific geographic area can support a number of community and economic development goals. For communities in the early stages of revitalization planning or community engagement processes, collecting data on current conditions in the built environment can help identify community assets, as well as opportunities to target resources to improve specific areas. One frequent use of data collected by this type of survey is the creation of maps; these maps can show the condition of structures, vacant lots, public infrastructure or green space in the area. Once data has been mapped, patterns may be identified that can help direct or prioritize future planning and investment. Ultimately, an assessment of the built environment will be most useful when it is aligned with larger community development goals in the area of focus. Read more »
Universities can help promote economic development in a variety of ways. As Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter notes in an article, universities contribute to regional competitiveness by supporting key industry clusters. According to Porter, universities themselves are part of a growing and increasingly important “education and knowledge creation” cluster in the U.S. that creates a sizable economic impact. The substantial hiring and local purchasing of universities are major economic drivers. In addition, universities can invest in real estate projects that improve surrounding communities and, in some cases, they serve as “anchors” for local revitalization. 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.
North Carolina’s new Economic Development Partnership:
North Carolina’s new Economic Development Agency meets fundraising requirement and opens its doors: http://bit.ly/Zrue2z
North Carolina’s new public-private economic development agency to release names of private donors and staff salaries in an effort to be transparent. http://bit.ly/1o9LntA
Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:
The ABCs of Economic Development in North Carolina – economic development acronyms like JDIG, IDF, and JMAC explained. bit.ly/1u1hD4d
Fascinating inside look at why company chose to locate in NC rather than India. bit.ly/1tkcRwU
Kannapolis-based NC Research Campus receives $15 million endowment: http://bit.ly/1xCbNqG
The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County work together on six economic development priorities: http://bit.ly/1sv0M7j
WRAL series on North Carolina economic development incentives compares company promises with Read more »
Greentown, USA wants to join some of its large older city peers such as Washington and Philadelphia that are rebranding themselves as Green Environmental Cities. Greentown wants to become the greenest small town in the country and would like to encourage property owners across their town to plant more trees, convert their rain shedding roofs into rain absorbing green space, and dig up their pavement and replace it with rain gardens and other stormwater systems that reduce run-off. They have started a media blitz promoting this green transformation, yet progress has been painfully slow. Older shopping centers, like the Southside Shopping Center, continue to produce torrents of rainwater runoff laden with oil and trash that pollutes the area’s waterways. Retrofitting existing space is costly and property owners have other competing needs for their scarce renovation dollars, and education alone only goes so far in promoting transformation. The city council is deadlocked between a contingent that wants to enact regulation that requires older properties to “Greenify” and a contingent that thinks the city should just use public grants to incentivize the transformation. Greentown, like many communities across the country, is stuck. What’s the solution? Read more »
A previous CED blog post analyzed securities law as it relates to crowdfunding, in which businesses use mass marketing and web-based platforms to raise investment capital from many investors in small amounts, with each investor becoming a share owner in the business. Another post described a different form of crowdfunding – a method of online fundraising in which many people, often each making small cash gifts or making advance purchases, collectively support a business, product, nonprofit, or cause without actually owning any shares or expecting an investment return. This post describes an example of the latter form of crowdfunding and will describe how Asheboro-based Four Saints Brewing Company used crowdfunding to find startup capital and ultimately attract debt financing for a craft brewery and tasting room it hoped to open in a historic downtown building. It will then discuss three lessons that the Four Saints case can teach entrepreneurs and community economic development practitioners considering crowdfunding. Read more »
The Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM) recently held an international conference in Segovia, Spain around the theme “The Decline of the Middle Class?” The question mark at the end was intentional. Originally, the conference was titled “The Decline of the Middle Class in the Developed World” but it had changed by the time the conference took place, presumably because of the research presenters were bringing to the table.
In western nations, especially in the United States, the position of middle class households has deteriorated significantly through the recession and there is little sign of improvement. However, from a global perspective, the middle class is expanding, serving as a spur to economic growth, especially in India, Indonesia and China. The result was a different type of conversation around prospects for economic development, one driven by increasing global trade and ties. Yes, the middle class is declining in the U.S., but from a global perspective, the middle class is on an up-swing. How can local CED professionals make sense of this mixed message? Read more »