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
Would you ever want to live and shop on top of or next to your library that is part of a mixed-use development? Cities looking to catalyze on a library’s energy and flow of people could consider the development of a library as a component in a mixed-use project, which is development that integrates multiple components such as residential, office, and civic uses. Including a library in a mixed-use development could ease the public burden on the high construction and maintenance costs of building and operating a library while also attracting new tenants or residents. Cities across the US are contemplating or have executed on this model including Milwaukee, Marion, Portland, and New York.
Energy efficiency finance programs can help electricity customers to save money on their electric bills, have more efficient homes and offices to live and work in, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy production, and promote workforce development, job creation, and economic growth in local communities which may be very much in need of these benefits.
In the Old North State, electricity customers are generally served by one of three kinds of utilities: Investor-owned utilities (IOU’s), co-operative utilities (co-ops), and municipal electrical utilities (munis). As part of the its energy and sustainability financing programs, the Environmental Finance Center at the UNC School of Government is now working on the Rural Community Energy and Economic Capacity Building Program, funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI), to research and develop ways to help electricity customers in three small towns in northeastern North Carolina to have greater access to energy efficiency (EE) financing alternatives. Two of these three towns have their own municipal electric utilities.
This brings us to the key questions of this blog post: What are utilities already doing in North Carolina to promote and finance EE for their customers? What other alternatives exist? And why does this matter in the first place?
Launching a retail business in a downtown storefront is a capital and knowledge intensive endeavor. Equally, Main Streets across North Carolina and the country are struggling to retain and attract vendors, with each new empty window display threatening the economic health of the street as a whole. In this two-part series, we explore how retail incubators can bridge the gap between capital-strapped retailers and empty storefronts. Read more »
Matthew Desmond has authored a scrupulously researched, stimulating and compelling book that should be of interest to everyone in the apartment industry, every low-income housing advocate, any student of American neighborhoods and every public official.
Examinations of urban poverty are nothing new, but this study of the causes and consequences of evictions on families, housing quality and the fabric of neighborhoods is innovative, thought-provoking, and readable. The author looks to bring this overlooked aspect of American poverty and inequality to a broader audience. Read more »
In previous posts the CED blog explored the many publicly available sources for local data that can inform municipal staff, real estate professionals, and policy makers. But how can local governments make use this data, and how can they know that the conclusions reached are valid? Often municipal governments accumulate a trove of demographic, socio-economic, and parcel data that together are daunting for local governments to use. Statistical analysis is one option that local governments may pursue to effectively use this data to drive policy decisions and monitor the success of programs and the state of the community.
If your eyes glazed over in the last sentence and you feel your blood pressure rise with the sight of the word statistics, read on! Better use of data in community and economic development may be simpler than you think. Read more »
Strengthening local food economies can be viewed as an important part of a holistic approach to community development. Local food can be a positive contributor to social capital, public health, environmental preservation, and overall quality of life. It also can be an important component of local economic development. In thinking about the development of robust local food economies, a lot of attention is given to the poles of local food supply chains: namely, local farmers and farms on one end, and outlets for distribution on the other, such as farmer’s markets, co-ops, and CSA operations. But for many local farmers, too little attention is given to the intermediary steps in the supply-chain. The intermediary steps together constitute a critical infrastructure for local farmers that can make a huge difference in making a local food operation viable or not.
In the Town of Carol-Blue, Donny, a local community developer, finds himself in a really tough position. Both the county and city budgets are constrained and the challenges the town face economically seem only to grow in size. After performing an analysis of senior housing demand, he realizes that the anecdotal stories he heard from friends about their tough time finding housing for older loved ones are not isolated incidents. He also read in the paper about drastic needs his towns has to address, such as housing veterans and the lack of resources socials services has had in supporting foster children and their adoptive families. Typically, he thinks of these problems as unrelated but he happened to read an article about a non-profit called Generations of Hope. The non-profit helps in developing communities of intergenerational housing with the purpose of helping to alleviate pressing social problems. Could this be a solution in addressing multiple Carol-Blue challenges at once?
Generations of Hope and Intentional Intergenerational Housing
Generations of Hope is a non-profit community development corporation that specializes in facilitating the development of specialty intergenerational housing models. Generations of Hope (GOH) began its mission in 1993 through its first planned community, Hope Meadows. Hope Meadows was provided a million dollar grant from the State of Illinois to purchase and redevelop a 22-acre former military base that would go on to include both senior apartments and housing for foster families. In this housing model, foster children are adopted by foster parents and are given support by seniors. In exchange for below market-rate rent, seniors volunteer six hours a week with foster children, performing various task such as tutoring, playing games and helping with other child care services. 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:
New chapter for Roanoke Rapids Theater, one of the first tax increment financing projects in North Carolina: http://bit.ly/29SRhhJ
Article in North Carolina League of Municipalities’ Southern City blog about UNC SOG DFI’s redevelopment project in Wilmington. http://bit.ly/29wjp4i
Railroading magazine discusses new location of CSX intermodal terminal in Rocky Mount NC. http://bit.ly/2askU6z
Other CED items:
New study from Cleveland looks at correlation between housing conditions and kindergarten readiness: https://t.co/KDML2j5TWT
New Jersey Creative Placemaking Fund: long-term affordable loans for place-based arts projects. Can we replicate elsewhere? http://bit.ly/29koa1t
Dallas, Texas incentive for grocers to locate in USDA food deserts (aka low-income areas): http://bit.ly/2adI7wa
Fed Reserve releases 2015 study of economic well being of Americans (there has been some improvement). http://bit.ly/2aC5ixm.
Story of how a pedestrian bridge and riverfront park helped facilitate Greenville, SC’s revitalization: http://grnol.co/1xWjpo4
How much the last legislative session impacted environmental management in your community largely depends on where you live in the state. It was a “short” legislative session and relatively few bills were passed, but several of the bills that were passed contained significant provisions likely to impact environmental quality in specific regions of the state. For example, the Drinking Water Protection/Coal Ash Cleanup Act requires that the owners of coal ash impoundments (ponds) that were shown to pollute groundwater provide impacted households with a permanent alternative water source. The Act also lays out the process and Read more »
The CED blog has previously written about the importance of New Market Tax Credits, and their place in the process for developing real estate transactions (a primer can be found here, and a discussion of the process for investment can be found here). Briefly, these credits are designed to drive capital to underserved communities, notably those which are determined to be ‘highly distressed,’ and provide investors with a 39% tax credit, paid over seven years, for investments in qualified projects. Credits are allocated to designated Community Development Entities (CDEs), which then select impactful projects in which to invest. Because funding for the Program is limited, investments tend to be highly competitive: this makes the impact of the project extremely important, and allocations often tend to concentrate around the various CDE’s mission targets, which could range from solar energy, to rural health, to small business development, to any number of other things. Read more »