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
Downtown redevelopment to attract talented Millennials has become an important and popular economic development policy in many cities across the country. By now it is almost common knowledge what it takes to attract talented Millennials to your town or city: walkable, diverse and vibrant neighborhoods in close proximity to a variety of amenities such as restaurants, bars, coffee shops, art venues, theatres, recreational areas and even sporting venues. This has contributed to a significant wave of downtown revitalization across the country, including in North Carolina in communities such as Asheville, Durham, and Saxapahaw. Read more »
Spring means budget season for local governments in North Carolina. Budget offices start budget formulation as early as December or January, but the most intense activity around the budget comes in late spring as staff budget recommendations are formed, public hearings are held and final funding decisions for the coming year are made. Whether within government or external to it, community economic development professionals should understand how local governments will be positioned regarding revenues in the coming year. Read more »
It seems like everywhere you turn these days, someone is talking about climate change and the effects of high energy consumption. No matter what your stance on the subject matter, the data concerning energy consumption and the cost of supplying its demand throughout North Carolina is shocking. A 2010 report found North Carolina to be the second most coal-dependent state in the United States (behind only Georgia) . In addition, North Carolina was recently ranked #8 amongst the “Toxic Twenty” states from a 2012 report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) . This report considered the top twenty states responsible for a disproportionate share of toxic emissions from the US electric sector. High energy usage usually corresponds to high energy bills that can negatively affect economic growth. For these reasons, some NC municipalities have implemented programs aimed at increasing demand for energy efficiency retrofits for commercial and residential buildings. Municipalities can secure economic and environmental benefits by reducing energy consumption and investing in energy efficiency programs. These programs can act as tools for increasing the productivity and competitiveness of local economies. Read more »
I read a terrific blog post at Harvard Business Review (HBR) the other day about collaboration. The author explained that “purpose is collaboration’s most unacknowledged determinant.” Community collaboration has never been more important as today’s challenges are too complex and interconnected for any one organization–government or otherwise–to handle alone. The issues we care about, more often than not, are enmeshed in complex systems that connect many disparate stakeholders. The ideal is to bring the different stakeholders–the different parts of the system, if you will–together, to work together, to collaborate, for the betterment of all. I’ve written several posts lately about local food economies as an example of this kind of complex system that requires collaboration in order to become more equitable, resilient, and sustainable. I’ve argued that local governments in particular should have local food system development on their radar screens. But collaboration amongst the relevant stakeholders doesn’t just happen. Collaboration is difficult. Councils for cross-cutting issues like food are a tool to help overcome barriers to collaboration. They can help create the common purpose needed to drive collaboration.
The White House Council on Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) initiative is a new approach to economic development support at the federal level that combines funding and hands-on technical assistance services for distressed communities across the country. Rocky Mount, NC was recently named as a participating community for this innovative federal program that local officials hope will strengthen the City’s struggling local economy. Read more »
Jobs that specialize in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are a major focus in efforts to promote economic development in a knowledge-based economy. The general assumption is that most of these jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree. A recent report by the Brookings Institution provides an expanded definition of STEM jobs to include many blue collar and technical occupations that require only an associate’s degree or less. The key findings and link to the full report can be found here.
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.
Reports about North Carolina’s economic development efforts:
Site Selection magazine ranks states by total economic development projects (North Carolina came in 7th) and projects per capita (North Carolina not in top 10). bit.ly/1g7noUW
Survey: Two-thirds of North Carolina voters support economic development incentives to attract industry to the state. http://bit.ly/P2zPaF
Chiquita’s merger and possible relocation of its headquarters from Charlotte prompted questions about the role of incentives: Read more »
In previous posts, we have talked about publicly available data on inflationary measures including the Consumer Price Index and the Construction Cost Index as well as on commercial energy use from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) and the US Census. The US Census also has a rich set of data on the financial position of households within our community. These data are especially relevant and helpful for determining the affordability of government utility services such as water and wastewater rates. Read more »
A previous post by Tyler Mulligan explained how local governments can utilize land banks to address vacant, abandoned, and tax foreclosed properties in their community. This post provides an example of a successful land bank in Genesee County, Michigan – home to the city of Flint – and discusses key elements of the Genesee model that may be useful for other communities. Read more »
If America’s cities and towns are to realize their greatest potential as attractive and welcoming places—and as drivers of the new American economy—they must be able to repurpose their vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties. Those properties—whether the product of the current foreclosure crisis or the remnants of the old economy—diminish the sense of community among neighbors, erase the value of lifelong investment in a home, and make it nearly impossible for cities and towns to attract and keep the creative, innovative, entrepreneurial citizens who will build the next economy.
Dan Kildee, founder of Genesee County Land Bank, in the foreword to Land Banks and Land Banking
Dan Kildee’s sentiment is shared by local governments across North Carolina, but how can they “repurpose” their vacant and abandoned properties and revitalize distressed communities? The answer in Genesee County, Michigan, was a redevelopment tool called a land bank, which is a public authority created to acquire and redevelop vacant and abandoned properties. In the span of a decade, the Genesee County Land Bank acquired more than 10,000 parcels to hold or redevelop, and during the “great recession,” catalyzed more than $60 million in new private investment. Land banks continue to spring up across the nation and are playing an increasingly important role in revitalization efforts in places such as Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and Fulton County, Georgia. A complete explanation of land bank policies and approaches across the nation can be found in a downloadable text, Land Banks and Land Banking.
In Michigan, forming a land bank is rather straightforward, because the Michigan state legislature enacted specific enabling authority for the establishment and operation of land banks. No such land bank legislation exists in North Carolina. Nonetheless, local governments in North Carolina can perform the basic functions of a land bank by cobbling together existing statutory authority. In this way, the local government itself serves as the land bank and performs the major activities of a land bank:
- Acquire and hold troubled properties
- Stabilize properties and eliminate encumbrances
- Convey properties to a redeveloper
Each activity will be addressed in turn. Read more »