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
A central tenet of community economic development is the belief that in fostering a healthy economy, we are working towards building healthy, vibrant communities. But many would contend that a healthy economy is only one piece of the puzzle. Local governments are increasingly paying attention to other elements of community development work in order to build healthy communities, realizing that they cannot foster a strong economy in isolation from social and environmental factors. One approach to development that addresses these issues is the “triple bottom line”, a method that integrates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental, and financial. Under the triple bottom line approach, growth and development should consider not only economic factors, but also social and environmental impacts of any initiative.
The triple bottom line framework has been adopted and championed by a wide variety of actors, including large corporations, community based nonprofit organizations, environmental groups, and international development agencies. Experts say that triple bottom line sustainability is most achievable at the regional and local scale, so it seems natural that local governments would adopt this approach in their economic development efforts. But what strategies can local governments in North Carolina use to foster triple bottom line impacts?
Every year the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) reviews the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that describes the selection criteria for developers submitting projects for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). LIHTC credits provide developers the ability to feasibly develop affordable housing. During the revision process, developers can submit comments regarding the previous QAP.
As of late October, the NCHFA had received over twenty-five comments. The NC QAP affects developers in NC as well as in neighboring states with five of the submitted comments coming from developers outside of NC. In addition to comments by private developers, nonprofit organizations and law firms also provided comments. Three topics that were frequently raised in the comments relate to the principal cap, tiebreaker method and developer experience. Read more »
The story of Research Triangle Park is in some ways the story of North Carolina’s regions over the last 50 years. Farms and forests gave way to substantial suburban development. Now, as growth continues and suburban spaces show their age, a transition is happening in RTP—and across the state.
In recognition of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s 50th anniversary, the CED blog is highlighting a couple of HUD’s newest programs that cities can use to help spur revitalization in distressed neighborhoods. One of these programs is Choice Neighborhoods.
Choice Neighborhoods launched in 2011 as part of the Obama administration’s strategy to address poverty, particularly high poverty neighborhoods. As mentioned in a previous post, high poverty neighborhoods leave its residents in a vacuum of the very opportunities they need to lift themselves out of poverty. Choice Neighborhoods, like many of the Obama administration’s initiatives, works to bring opportunity into these impoverished places. Read more »
In the state budget bill, S.L. 2015-241, the legislature made a few changes to municipal service district (MSD) authority. An MSD is a defined area within a municipality in which the unit’s governing board levies an additional property tax in order to provide projects or extra services that benefit the properties in the district. (Counties have similar authority, referred to as county service districts.) A service district is not a separate government. It is simply a mechanism whereby a local government may raise money to pay for services or projects from those property owners that most directly benefit from the services or projects. (Click here for more information on MSDs.)
Under general law, a municipality may define one or more service districts for any of the following functions:
- Beach erosion control and flood and hurricane protection works
- Downtown revitalization projects
- Urban revitalization projects
- Transit-oriented development projects
- Drainage projects
- Sewage collection and disposal systems
- Off-street parking facilities
- Watershed improvement, drainage, and water resources development projects
(There are a few additional authorized purposes for certain municipalities. See G.S. 160A-536.)
The most common municipal service districts are established for downtown or urban area revitalization. A municipality may establish one or more downtown revitalization districts in its central downtown area. It may form an urban area revitalization district in an area that meets any one of these criteria: (1) it is the central business district of the municipality; (2) it consists primarily of existing or redeveloping concentrations of industrial, retail, wholesale, office, or other significant employment-generating uses; (3) it is located in or along a major transportation corridor (with certain restrictions); or (4) it is centered or focused around a major concentration of public or institutional uses.
Downtown and urban area revitalization districts are commonly referred to as business improvement districts or BIDs. Establishing a BID allows a municipality to levy an additional property tax on real and personal properties within its central downtown, or other commercial area, to fund a variety of downtown projects and services, such as street and sidewalk improvements, promotional and marketing efforts, increased security, additional trash collection, and building façade improvements. (Click here for more information on BIDs.)
Section 15.16B of S.L. 2015-241 (state budget) imposes limitations on a municipal board’s authority to levy an MSD tax for any of the authorized purposes. It also mandates that a municipality follow certain procedures before entering into a contract with a private entity to provide services within certain types of MSDs—namely those established for downtown or urban area revitalization. Finally, the new law designates a study commission to look at the feasibility of allowing property owners to opt out of an MSD. Read more »
Every year the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) awards applicants with Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) – the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today. The NCHFA uses federal and state funds to produce affordable housing by partnering with for- and non-profit developers. The Applicants are awarded with tax credits equal to nine percent of the qualified cost of building or rehabilitating a property. Without LIHTC, building affordable housing would not be feasible. In 2015, forty-nine projects in NC were awarded with low-income housing tax credits totaling over $25 million and 3,600 units. This blog post will dive into the LIHTC process specifically diving into the mechanics of the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). 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:
Charlotte Business Journal explains details of state incentives bill signed by Governor McCrory: http://bit.ly/1YTDOpJ
NC Commerce LEAD Feed on the impact of the nearly 900 furniture-related manufacturing businesses in North Carolina: http://bit.ly/1KYinu1
In-depth interview with leadership of the Greensboro economic development partnership: http://bit.ly/1QfjkBN
Are minority-owned firms in North Carolina on the rebound? Data from the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development says yes. http://bit.ly/1k00vsj
Urban areas drive population growth in North Carolina while rural areas see decline – can state policy make a difference? http://bit.ly/1PwhSg9
If you feel like things have changed recently in the look and feel of your favorite government website, then well, you might be on to something. In late September of this year, new design standards were released for federal government websites. The focus was on the design of the websites—from the layout to the font, the design of a website impacts how well citizens understand and use it.
Similarly, one of the most prominent buzzwords around business in 2015 is “design-based thinking.” While this approach has less to do with a font style or background color of a website, it is derived from essentially the same way of thinking. What exactly does it mean to think with a design perspective? How could that impact local government and community economic development? This post provides an overview of design thinking and its potential usefulness for local governments in North Carolina. Read more »
On October 20, 2015, the Governor signed Session Law (S.L.) 2015-277, placing into effect several “clarifications” to the primary economic development statute used by local governments, G.S. Chapter 158, Article 1, “The Local Development Act of 1925.” The modifications fall into three categories: first, broad discretionary language was removed; second, new procedural requirements were imposed; and third, historic rehabilitation was explicitly included within the penumbra of allowable economic development activities, subject to the same limitations that have long been imposed on such activities by the statute and the North Carolina Constitution. Each will be addressed in turn. Read more »
The North Carolina coastline has a wide variety of inlets that are critical to coastal commerce, such as for commercial traffic at ports, commercial and charter fisherman, and recreation & tourism. According to a report to the Joint Transportation Appropriations Committee by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), routine dredging and maintenance are necessary for these inlets to remain open to support North Carolina’s economy.
An article in the News & Observer in June 2015 estimated that the state’s biggest shipping customer was losing $2 million a month because the sand-clogged navigation channel at Morehead City was too shallow to handle fully laden freighters. State officials sought emergency measures because of the direness of the situation, and the Obama administration freed up $4.1 million for Morehead City. Hopes were high that the added funding would be bring some relief by the end of summer 2015, helping the state’s second-busiest port get back to normal traffic patterns. Read more »