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 the last couple decades the biotechnology industry has seen substantial growth globally and in the United States where the industry has reached a market capitalization of over $1 trillion (EY Biotechnology Industry Report). Growth in the biotech industry has soared as well in North Carolina following the state’s long-term investment starting in the 1980s with the creation of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech), a nonprofit based in Research Triangle Park. As a testament of NC’s biotech industry strength, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News ranked the Raleigh-Durham area as one of the top 10 biotech clusters in the country based on National Institute of Health funding, venture capital funding, patents, lab space, and jobs. Today, there are over 600 life science companies in NC employing 61,000 people at an average salary of $81,000. Read more »
This April, the North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer hosted a conference on “Sparking Sustainability and Innovation: Together, Let’s Build a Stronger Future”. The conference was designed to foster discussion around how innovation and sustainability are integral to creating and maintaining long-term stability for North Carolina communities. Successful economic development initiatives often rely on and are strengthened by vibrant, innovative, and sustainable communities, so this conference was aimed at sharing strategies, success stories, and identifying challenges and opportunities for North Carolina local governments.
The start of the 2016-2017 fiscal year will bring with it a new property tax exclusion aimed at residential and commercial development. Known informally as the “builders’ inventory” exclusion, the new law was passed as S.L. 2015-223 and will be codified as G.S. 105-277.02.
In today’s blog, I offer a quick overview of the new exclusion and highlight some issues that developers need to keep in mind if they intend to benefit from it. Read more »
The White Squirrel. You may wonder what makes it white, is it an albino or second-cousin to the common eastern grey squirrel? Did it originate in a carnival, victim of a failed science experiment, or was it simply a quirk of evolution?
What does a rare breed of a common critter have to do with economic development and this blog? Quite a bit, if you are the city of Brevard. Every year thousands of visitors head to the county seat of Transylvania County to attend the White Squirrel Festival, take a tour in hopes of a sighting and stay to play, eat and shop.
Brevard isn’t the only town in America that can claim the white squirrel but it has certainly made the most of it, just as other towns and cities across North Carolina have turned a quirky asset into a draw. Visit Mount Airy and feel like you’re taking a stroll down Mayberry’s Main Street on the Andy Griffith Show. See Wilson and wonder at whirligigs. Welcome the snow season with the Banner Elk wooly worm and celebrate spring with the Fayetteville Dogwood tree.
Identifying and leveraging a community’s organic socio-cultural, environmental and economic advantages for sustained economic growth is known as asset-based economic development. The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) published a series of papers, Asset-Based Economic Development: Building Sustainable Small and Rural Communities, which profiles successful strategies ranging from the marketing approach identified here to adaptive reuse of historical assets. North Carolina examples of asset-based development can be explored the School of Government’s web-based resource, Building Assets for the Rural Future: A Guide to Promising Asset-Building Programs for Communities and Individuals on the Economic Margin. The topic has also been discussed in this blog in a previous post. Read more »
You are excited about a new grant possibility for the city to help with a business incubator initiative on which you have been working. You realize that you need to start getting the application together because you are certain that this grant will soon become a city priority. You and a colleague, Avery, are talking about the work that needs to get done and Avery volunteers to “get you a draft of the background section soon.” You think this is a great plan as you have been looking for ways to help develop and empower Avery. As you think about this section of the report you quickly picture key maps about possible incubator locations, the number of small businesses in the community, figures on business retention efforts, annual enrollment in the community college entrepreneurship program, etc.
If Avery sends you a draft background section by early next week, you will be able to integrate it with other sections of the application, which you plan to work on during the remainder of that week. However, Monday comes and goes with no word or emails from Avery. The same happens on Tuesday. On Wednesday you decide that you will have to follow-up, but you get pulled into meetings for the rest of the day and don’t get a chance to send an email or place a call. Thursday morning, as you drive to work, your concern about getting the grant application finished on time and your frustration with Avery is mounting.
You open up your email inbox and see an email from Avery with the subject line “draft.” You breathe a sigh of relief … until you open the email. There is no attachment and none of the detail you had hoped to see—just an outline and a few basic paragraphs about the city. You walk into Avery’s office, fuming, and ask, “What is the meaning of this, I was counting on you to do what you said and get the background section written for this grant and now I have waited days after we agreed and you sent me nothing more than an outline.” Avery looks somewhat astonished and says, “I do not understand why you are upset. I said I would get you a draft and I did.”
Who is at fault? Read more »
“In short, software is eating the world.” – Mark Andreessen, co-founded Netscape
From cell phones, cars, to wearable tech, software keeps finding new ways to enter our lives. Mobile apps are flourishing and have transformed service-delivery whether we are banking online, hailing an Uber ride, watching Netflix, or shopping on Amazon. In short, the increase in software and software-related positions potentially indicates a growing need for information technology positions and coding skills. According to a 2014 Brookings report, of all STEM fields, information technology had the most job postings in the US. However, jobs that require programming skills stay open for twenty days longer than non-STEM jobs. The growth in software development is not restricted to information technology companies, but fields as far ranging as agriculture to car manufacturing. This could indicate the growing demand for coding skills in various industries dependent on software-development, IT related or not. Read more »
Many North Carolinians have fond memories of railroads and trains being a centerpiece of local downtown activity. Not only are trains effective transportation instruments, but also can be an identity for some communities. The railroad tracks are often located in the epicenter of cities, and history reveals that some towns were even built around the railroad’s path. Unfortunately, not all residents have a favorable view of railroads running through their cities and towns. For example, consider the number of families housed near railroad crossings that wake-up multiple times at night because train horns are blown at railroad crossings. Some municipalities have begun instituting “quiet zones” at railroad intersections. This blog post will explore the process of establishing these quiet zones and offer some useful past and on-going examples. 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 President of North Carolina Community College system named. bit.ly/1PI8X7b
Western North Carolina economic development organization and incubator, Smoky Mountain Development Corporation, shuts down; slowdown in SBA 504 loan closings cited as cause. http://avlne.ws/1VTbjZQ
Randolph County-Greensboro-North Carolina Railroad industrial megasite faces challenges but is moving forward. http://bit.ly/22bNWsK
The CEO of North Carolina’s Economic Development Partnership describes business community’s reaction to HB2 from a recruitment perspective. http://bit.ly/1VTbKU3
MDC report finds that only about 1/3 of North Carolina children in households that make less than $25,000/year will climb out of poverty as adults. http://bit.ly/1PVZ85A
News report on HB2’s impact on economic development recruitment in Wake County and Cary, North Carolina. http://bit.ly/1XWoBCg
Report by the North Carolina Rural Center on rural manufacturing clusters and key policy questions to consider. http://bit.ly/1SY1iE2
There have been a lot of water issues in the news recently. Here’s a summary of a few of the stories we’ve been following that involve the important and often complicated role state government plays.
Bad News. About a year ago, the NC Department of Health and Human Services advised hundreds of private well owners in Gaston and Rowan Counties that their well water was unsafe to drink due to levels of vanadium and hexavalent chromium that exceed state standards. This is about as bad as water news can get – throwing into question the safety of something as essential as water. This advisory was linked to continued concern over the impacts of improper coal ash storage and management. Later this advisory was lifted (see below), but not before the original advisory created a deep sense of concern.
Good News. In March of this year, North Carolina voters approved a state bond infrastructure referendum that will eventually lead to over three hundred million dollars Read more »
Last month the CED blog published an overview of Federal and State Brownfields programs and how these programs can assist in remediating and revitalizing tough-to-develop sites that are plagued by environmental contamination. This post will provide two case examples of how the US EPA and NC Brownfields Program have been employed in two North Carolina communities.
Case #1: Conover Station, Conover, NC
In the town of Conover, an abandoned Broyhill Furniture manufacturing plant has been turned into a revitalizing, mixed-use development. Conover (population 8,165) is located in Catawba County, just east of Hickory along Interstate 40. When the Broyhill plant closed its doors in 2005, it quickly became an eyesore in the heart of the community. Petroleum and volatile organic contamination from years of underground and aboveground storage tank use was present in the soil and groundwater, with problematic product lines existing underground and throughout the buildings. Despite the challenges, the town saw potential to redevelop the site into a mixed-use development that would preserve the historic Warlong Glove building as its centerpiece. Read more »