Kinston, NC

Development Finance Initiative: Rebuilding North Carolina one town at a time – Southern City

This article was originally published in the November/December edition of Southern City, as “Rebuilding [more…]
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…]

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 |

  • The Relationship between Infrastructure and Private Investment

    iStock_Construction_5345568Small3-600x397According to a recent study, infrastructure is one of the most important drivers of real estate investment. This illustrates how the government, and local municipalities in particular, can play a significant role in supporting private real estate development. Supplying public infrastructure can be one tool that municipalities and governments use to encourage and incentivize private development within their jurisdiction. A recent study by the Urban Land Institute (ULI), called Infrastructure 2014: Shaping the Competitive City, surveyed both the public and private sector on issues related to infrastructure and real estate development. Their findings ranked the “drivers” of real estate investments. Quality of infrastructure (transportation, telecommunications, etc.) was at the top of the list of respondents, behind consumer demand and availability of a skilled workforce. Providing high quality infrastructure can be an important recruiting tool when it comes to attracting private development. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: June 2015

    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.

    Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

    Is Greensboro, North Carolina fortunate to have so many foundations investing in downtown revitalization? ‪ 

    Why Elon is joining the North Carolina Main Street Program and the steps it has taken to join. ‪ 

    New law makes it more difficult for Charlotte residents to block redevelopment projects that they believe is inconsistent with local character: ‪ 

    @NCCapitol blog explains the difference between the North Carolina House and Senate budgets, including economic development incentives and historic tax credits:   Read more »

  • Teacher Housing in North Carolina

    HousingIn “Public Schools and Economic Development: What the Research Shows” (2004), Jonathan Weiss demonstrates the increasingly important role that public schools play in an area’s economic development. As businesses consider expanding or relocating into various communities, they look at the level of quality of life for their employees. Public schools are an important consideration in assessing the area’s quality of life.

    With regard to the quality of an area’s public schools, one of the most significant issues that local education agencies (LEAs) face in developing quality education systems is teacher recruitment and retention. In their 2013 analysis of SECU Foundation’s involvement in teacher housing, Azaria Verdin and Ryan Smith looked closely at this difficulty. They found that nearly 50% of the teacher work force is approaching retirement and that new teachers are replacing many of those retirees. However, nearly 50% of those new teachers leave the profession within the first five years due to a variety of factors, including low teacher pay. Read more »

  • Key Financial Indicators: Debt Service Coverage Ratio

    In previous posts, we have discussed where to find data to help make smart financial and managerial decisions. Another vital data source for any enterprise is its own financial statements, from which enterprises can calculate key financial indicators.  In March, we discussed operating ratio.  This post will discuss another key financial indicator–debt service coverage ratio.

    Debt service coverage ratio is an important indicator for many aspects of community and economic development.  For this blog, let’s look at key financial indicators from the perspective of a business-like unit within government–a water or wastewater system.  Key financial indicators are a way for that enterprise to get a snapshot of its financial health and to determine whether it needs to make adjustments to its rates, and they should be calculated annually when financial statements are released.  Debt service coverage ratio, as the name suggests, measures the system’s ability to pay its long-term debts. Read more »

  • Civic Crowdfunding


    Kansas City’s B-Cycle Program

    Earlier posts on this blog have explored the idea of crowdfunding and its legal implications, growing popularity as a source of capital, and use in supporting local businesses. As these posts explained, crowdfunding is the concept of online fundraising from a pool of many different donors or investors. These online crowdfunding platforms, most notably Kickstarter, have emerged over the last several years and crowdfunding has capitalized on its viral nature and led to the successful funding of many different projects, ranging from business startups to theatrical performances.


    In recent years, new platforms – Citizinvestor, ioby, and – have emerged with a specific focus on public goods -“civic crowdfunding”. These websites facilitate the funding of public projects, some of which are organized by local governments themselves and others organized by citizens and community organizations interested in bringing new services or facilities to an area. Crowdfunding may be a preferred method of fundraising when bond issuance may be too cost prohibitive or where there is a group of citizens willing to coordinate the fundraising effort. One of the largest civic crowdfunding campaigns is BikeShareKC’s Kansas City B-Cycle program, a campaign that used to raise nearly $420,000 to support a project providing 90 shareable bikes at 12 sharing stations around downtown Kansas City. Read more »

  • Can Community Ownership Eliminate Food Deserts?

    imagesA previous post to this blog looked at development finance tools that can be used to address food deserts. This post introduces new findings about food deserts and looks at a cooperative grocer in Greensboro that aims to eliminate its neighborhood’s food desert and spur economic development.

    “Give a person a fish,” the proverb goes, “and you’ll feed them for a day; build a neighborhood a grocery store and you’ll see ‘minimal effect on household food availability and no statistically significant impact on consumption habits.’”

    Or something like that. Recently, the New York Times reported on new research that casts doubt on the idea that putting grocery stores in food deserts—areas with limited access to affordable and healthy food—is an effective way to improve the health of residents of low-income communities. One study concluded that after its first year, the introduction of a government-subsidized grocery store in an underserved South Bronx neighborhood had “minimal effect on household food availability and no statistically significant impact on consumption habits.” Another study suggested that the nutritional quality of a bag of groceries has much more to do with the education—and to some extent the income—of the person pushing a cart than it does that person’s proximity to a store that sells healthy food.

    One takeaway from these studies is that shoppers—in addition to stores—must change in order to solve the health problems associated with food deserts. In an economic sense, communities must address both the supply and demand for food in order to eliminate food deserts. What ends up on your plate may not so much reflect what’s on nearby supermarket shelves, but rather your personal preferences, cultural food traditions, and budget. It may also reflect the amount of time and energy you have to prepare a meal after a day at work, the condition of your kitchen, and what you know how to cook. Still, eliminating food deserts by increasing access to healthy food is a necessary first step toward improving community health and food security. Read more »

  • Museums as Community Development: Whiteville, NC

    jump2Museums can serve as community anchors, catalysts for revitalization, and vehicles for cultural preservation. One of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ goals has been to extend its reach beyond Raleigh, with special consideration for historically underrepresented communities.  There is a large need to reach underserved populations that do not have the resources or accessibility to the Museum of Natural Sciences or similar programs. In November of 2013, the Museum of Natural Sciences saw a promising opportunity to take a major step forward and extend its presence to communities beyond Raleigh.  Read more »

  • A Look at the 2015 NC Civic Health Index

    community-engagement-photo-150x150How healthy is civic life in North Carolina? Unlike testing blood pressure, or logging exercise time as measures of physical health, making a measure of civic connectedness and activity is tricky. The NCSU Institute for Emerging Issues took on this effort by producing the NC Civic Health Index, 2015. The report  identifies “broad lessons” based on comparing North Carolina’s civic health to national data. It highlights “trends and divides” for subgroups – especially youth and racial and ethnic minority groups — having lower measures than older, Caucasian NC residents, and concludes with a “Call to Action.”

    Since the Index surveys the whole state Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: May 2015

    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.

    Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

    What does national press exposure mean for the development of a downtown Winston-Salem research park – the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter? ‪ 

    Private investor acquires and rehabs affordable workforce housing in “under-supplied” markets like Cary, NC: ‪ 

    Buncombe County Commissioners debate non-disclosure agreement requested by company for economic development incentive negotiation: ‪  Read more »

  • Redevelopment Case Studies of Victorian-Era Psychiatric Facilities

    danvers4Earlier this month, a post on CED in NC provided an overview of the redevelopment of Victorian-era psychiatric facilities.  Many historic psychiatric institutions throughout the country have closed, leaving large, architecturally significant buildings on vast campuses behind. The redevelopment of these facilities generally requires public-private partnerships, non-traditional financing, and creative programming. To illustrate the variety of opportunities that cities and towns have pursued with former psychiatric facilities, here are three projects that have tackled these challenges in different ways.  Read more »

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