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…]
Doherty Heights

Using a Redevelopment Area to Attract Private Investment

The neighborhood of Doherty Heights has seen better days. Once a vibrant residential neighborhood [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 |

  • New Tool Helps Communities Assess the Affordability of Services

    When the five small water systems in Hampton County, South Carolina decided to band together to create the Lowcountry Regional Water System (LRWS), they, like many other small water systems across the country, faced a number of managerial and financial obstacles. Among these challenges were a flat growth rate, degraded and inadequate infrastructure, artificially low rates, and an economically disadvantaged population. Each of the five communities in this rural county charged vastly different amounts for their service, with monthly rates for 5,000 gallons of water and sewer ranging from as low as $36.50 to as high as $62.67. Whether the rates of the new, regionalized water system were “affordable” for all customers became a top concern for the LRWS. Read more »

  • Development Finance Initiative (DFI) helps revitalize NC towns – University Gazette

    This article was originally published in the University Gazette on September 9, 2014, as “Carolina program helps revitalize NC towns.” It is republished here with permission.

    Tyler Mulligan leads a class for public officials at the School of Government.

    Tyler Mulligan leads a class for public officials at the School of Government.

    They call them “wicked problems,” the complicated, long-term, seemingly impossible, hard-to-wrap-your-head-around issues for which solutions seem far away.

    The team involved in the School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative (DFI) specializes in them, and they’re teaching students how to tackle them, too.

    DFI partners with local governments across the state to attract the private investments they need to revitalize their communities. Community revitalization is one of those “wicked problems” said Tyler Mulligan, who teaches both public officials and graduate students about community development, finance and revitalization.

    “You don’t always know from the start how you’re going to make it work, and that can be daunting,” said Mulligan.

    DFI itself was borne from a perplexing problem: Local government officials often asked Mulligan to visit their towns and assist them with their communities’ needs. But, he couldn’t do it on his own.

    “It’s part of my job to advise these officials and answer their calls and emails when they need me, but I couldn’t provide intensive assistance to every community, and the challenges they face require a multi-disciplinary approach,” he said. “It soon became clear that a team of professionals was needed to answer the call for assistance.”

    The demand was undeniable. Downtown streets were in desperate need of revitalization, historic buildings were wearing away with neglect and prime parcels of land sat empty without a purpose in many of North Carolina’s towns. Read more »

  • Property Taxes & Non-Profits

    The tax status of real or personal property owned or used by charitable non-profit organizations can get complicated when there are multiple private and public entities involved with the property.  Is property exempt if is owned by a non-profit organization and leased to other non-profits? What if it is leased to a mixture of non- and for-profit organizations? Does it matter if the non-profit organizations are 501(c)(3) certified? What if a government owns the property and leases it to a non-profit?

    This blog attempts to unravel some knotty non-profit problems.  Read more »

  • Designating Local Historic Landmarks in North Carolina

    Chowan County CourthouseA historic school building in AnyPlace, North Carolina was recently left vacant when the local school district moved its administrative offices to a new space. The local governing board is interested in preserving the historic character of the school building, while also encouraging private redevelopment of the property to ensure it does not remain vacant. One member of the governing board suggests that designating the school as a local historic landmark would support both of these goals. The member explains that local landmarks are eligible for a property tax deferral as long as the historic integrity of the property is preserved. Other members of the board are not familiar with the program and request that city staff investigate whether this designation would be appropriate to encourage protection and redevelopment of the school.

    What is a Local Historic Landmark?  Read more »

  • Why’d She Do That? Explaining Workplace Behavior and Why It Matters to Organizations

    Community and economic development professionals, in working to accomplish their goals, must often lead and manage organizations. In recognition of that fact, this post is offered as part of series on leadership and management, written by faculty and staff who focus on those topics at the UNC School of Government.

    The boss walks by your office with a scowl on her face. Your employee rolls his eyes halfway through your comments in a meeting. Your project fails miserably.

    Next come the mental gymnastics, where you try to figure out why these things happened and what it means for you and your organization.

    This process of interpretation is called attribution. It happens everyday with profound effects on workplace dynamics. Attributions underlie employee performance evaluations, workplace climate, and both rocky and smooth interpersonal relationships.

    The problem with attributions are their tendency to be inaccurate, sometimes wildly so. Without mind-reading skills or crystal balls, we often interpret behavior through the lens of our own worst-case scenarios. And when this happens, it can cause miscommunication, conflict, and problems. Read more »

  • A Look Inside the Privatization of NC’s Regional Economic Development Partnerships

    In the 2013 State Budget Act, the State of North Carolina voted to defund North Carolina’s regional economic development partnership and to dissolve the four “rural” public partnerships, including the NC Eastern Region, Advantage West, the Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership, and the Northeast Commission. These four partnerships were dissolved as of July 1, 2014, and now each is finding a way to reinvent its business model to continue providing services to its member counties. (See news on the transition from around the state.)

    John D. Chaffee, CEO of the NC East Alliance – the new private non-profit that’s succeeding the NC Eastern Region, provided an update on this transition.  Read more »

  • The Role of U.S. Counties in Economic Development

    econ_dev_cover_thumbIn a recently released report, the National Association of Counties (NACo) examines the special role that county governments play in the process of economic development. The report’s findings are based on a national survey of U.S. counties and case studies of local economic development in 34 selected counties. The findings suggest that counties implement their economic development activities in a collaborative manner by working with other local governments, state government, nonprofits, regional organizations, and private sector entities. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: August 2014

    CED_Icon_for_TwitterThe 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 General Assembly updates:

    NC General Assembly bill with historic rehabilitation tax credit extension fails to pass: ‪ 

    Will North Carolina’s historic rehabilitation tax credits be resurrected when the NC General Assembly returns? ‪ 

    Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

    Golden Leaf’s new grant funds for economic development in certain North Carolina “prosperity zones”: 

    Developer says that new low-income housing units in Anson could not have been built in such rural area without state tax credit: 

    Story shows impact of expiration of state’s historic tax credit on historic school project in Durham: 

    Rural counties fret over change to North Carolina’s business recruitment efforts, new centralized approach with economic development nonprofit.

    Workforce development plan in works at Central Carolina Community College to accompany Chatham-Randolph industrial megasite: 

    Report on impact of North Carolina eliminating state funding for community development organizations: ‪ 

    UNC-Chapel Hill’s Building Integrated Communities initiative helps Sanford’s Latino community obtain better access to public safety, local government, education, and economic opportunities:  Read more »

  • Unrequited Demand in a World of Fixed Infrastructure

    Water_HeartIt can be hard being a water utility when nobody needs you. Or worse yet, when you have to push people away. But the news seems rife with such stories of unrequited demand for service from water utilities that invested so much in the relationship, the infrastructure, now only to be left kind of empty.

    It’s not always for the same reason.  Detroit has experienced a major exodus in recent decades which, in part, drove the utility to undertake a notorious strategy to cut the water service off for about 15,000 residents. The City was trying to make any effort to payback nearly $5.2 billion of outstanding water and sewer system revenue bonds that it likely issued anticipating that there would be paying customers to serve in the coming years.

    On a smaller scale, but no less real, rural utilities across the country are dealing with similar population trends. In a recent presentation at the School of Government, Karen Massey, the Director of the Missouri Environmental Improvement and Energy Resources Authority, reported that there are counties in Missouri that are facing a 45% decline in population over the next five years! Communities in North Carolina are not too different, particularly with the loss of textile mills across the state.  Read more »

  • Reimagining Shopping Malls

    gardensunderglassAcross the United States, malls are an endangered species. Once a marker of local economic success, the traditional, enclosed shopping mall are becoming abandoned, irrelevant, and forgotten structures. Many anchor tenants, like J.C. Penney, are relocating or closing down altogether. The high costs and time associated with upfitting malls prevent many towns and mall owners from investing in these structures, which often end up as abandoned, contributing to blight.

    Some towns and mall owners, however, have thought of economically feasible and innovative ways to make use of these large, empty structures. The Galleria Shopping Mall in Cleveland, Ohio was once one of the largest malls in central Ohio. In 2012, the Galleria had lost all of its anchor tenants and only had a total of eight retail stores remaining. In an effort to avoid foreclosure, Vicky Poole, the marketing and events director for the mall, thought of the Gardens Under Glass project. This project used the struggling mall’s interesting architecture to transform the space into a massive garden. Because the building was already designed like a greenhouse, growing things like tomatoes, lettuce, spices, strawberries, and basil proved to be a promising solution.  Read more »

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