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
In North Carolina, workforce training programs are primarily delivered through the 23 local, workforce development boards or through the state’s 59 community colleges. Most economic developers will be aware of these resources but may not know some of the programs these providers offer or the creative ways training funds can be used. This post will give a brief overview of workforce development boards and community colleges in North Carolina and a glimpse of a new model that is taking root in the state. Read more »
Almost ten years ago, in the town of Bushwood, North Carolina, the “generous” owner of the historic textile mill building just off Main Street donated the property to the town (it was difficult to maintain and the owner didn’t want to pay property taxes on it any more). The town accepted the property, hoping that it would be able to find a new private owner who would redevelop the property and retain the historic character of the building. Some potential buyers have kicked the tires on the building, but no one has made an offer. Due to the value of the land and the excellent location of the parcel, the property appraises for $300,000.
The town recognizes that it needs to market the building more actively—and that it may need the help of experts. “Old Mills R Us,” a regional historic preservation nonprofit with a mission to preserve historic mill buildings, has a proposal for the town:
- The town will sell the mill to the nonprofit for one dollar.
- Old Mills R Us (OMRU) will market the property and sell the mill to a private developer who will redevelop the property while retaining the historic features.
- Rather than charging a broker fee, OMRU will simply keep the proceeds from the sale at whatever price OMRU can get.
Can the town enter into this transaction with OMRU? Short answer: not on these terms. This post explains why and suggests some alternatives. Read more »
A coalition in Greensboro is spearheading a campaign that would bring a relatively recent innovation in permanent supportive housing to North Carolina. An outgrowth of the increasingly popular tiny house movement, the development of multiple, standalone units connected to specialized services is gaining traction in other parts of the country. Building off the success of the housing first approach, which has demonstrated that connecting chronically homeless individuals with permanent supportive housing can reduce public costs associated with administering services to this population, this community group has been working to develop a model micro-home—a mobile, 128 square foot home with its own kitchen—that will serve as a tool for engaging discussion about the role of these types of housing developments in supporting low-income people who are pursuing stability and self-sufficiency. This blog post will highlight examples of similar developments in cities around the U.S. and explore some of the broader implications associated with this innovation. Read more »
Last week (December 4-5) I attended a remarkable event, perhaps the first of it’s kind. It was a gathering of people involved in local food system work from all across North Carolina, as well as some representatives from South Carolina and Virginia. The title of the event was “Connecting for the Future: A Gathering of NC Food Councils.” About 150 people were in attendance at the Biotech Place in Winston-Salem. The event was convened by the Local Food Council of North Carolina in partnership with the Forsyth Community Food Consortium. Many sponsors helped cover the costs of the event, including the BlueCross BlueShield Foundation and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS). It was a great opportunity to hear about the ‘state of the art’ when it comes to local food networks/councils.
Agricultural Land Loss in the Southeast: Overview of Heirs’ Property and Strategies to Reverse the Trend
In the early 1900s, an estimated 15 million acres of agricultural land in the U.S. was owned by African Americans. Just a fraction of that land – about 1.5 million acres – is still black-owned and used for agriculture today. Each year, about 30,000 more acres are lost, driven primarily by a lack of estate planning. Jillian Hishaw, Founder and Director of F.A.R.M.S. and David Harper, Executive Director of South Carolina’s Pee Dee Land Trust discussed the work they are doing to reverse this trend in the Southeast at a recent panel on Land Access, Land Security, and Conservation Finance at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s FoodCon sustainable food conference.
Heirs’ Property and its Challenges
When the owner of a parcel of land dies without a will, the land is often passed on as “heirs’ property,” where the deed remains in the name of the deceased land owner and his or her heirs become tenants in common on the land. When a first generation heir dies, his or her share of the land becomes further subdivided among his or her own heirs; in other words, over the decades a parcel of land may come to be owned by dozens of heirs. Heirs’ property results in an unstable title that both puts the land at risk of sale below market value and limits owners’ ability to capitalize on their land resource. Some sources estimate that up to one-third of black-owned land in the Southeast is held as heirs’ property. 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 reveals its five major donors and staff salaries: http://bit.ly/1yPkQ5t
Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:
New York Times article provides overview of North Carolina law that limits municipal broadband: http://nyti.ms/1zdBRX1
Governor McCrory says that he may call a special legislative session in order to lift the cap for Job Development Investment Grants: http://avlne.ws/1wduA65
Highlights from the panel on “Creating Community Capital through Local Food” at the recent International City/County Management Association (ICMA) Conference in Charlotte, including comments from the School of Government’s Dr. Rick Morse: http://bit.ly/1ujS3WA
Why North Carolina is working so hard to assemble an industrial megasite to lure an auto manufacturing facility to the state: http://bit.ly/1uj0pMX
$12 million in one hour: That’s not a report of the ticket sales for the Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s Greensboro show last week. That is how much the City of Denver raised directly from the citizens of Colorado for the final phase of its Better Denver capital campaign. This past August, the City of Denver offered general obligation bonds in $500 increments to Colorado residents, and they bought them right up! Approximately 1,000 Colorado residents purchased an average of 24 mini-bonds apiece. The City anticipated a five day sale. They were turning people away after one hour.
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 »