Legal and Business Reasons Why Downtown Development Programs Should Involve Secured Loans—Not Grants

Dr. Blaine Beeper is a retired hospital administrator who was recently elected to council [more…]

The Tortoise, the Hare, and Demolition in Historic Districts

A few blocks from downtown in the town’s historic district sit two houses built [more…]

Conveyance of Local Government Property for Affordable Housing

A developer of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons has approached the [more…]

Notice and Hearing Requirements for Economic Development Appropriations

As discussed in a prior post, Session Law 2015-277 requires North Carolina local governments [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 |

  • Lessons for CED from Europe: Inclusive Communities and a New City-Run Food Pantry

    The photo was eerily familiar to anyone interested in CED.  The headline from the New York Times article on September 20, just days before the German national election, read, “Merkel Says Germans ‘Never Had It Better.’ But Many Feel Left Behind.”  The accompanying photo by Gordon Welters, shown here, features Read more »

  • Electric Buses Debut in North Carolina

    The days of public buses pulling away from a bus stop with the loud growl of a diesel engine and a cloud of black smoke could become a thing of the past.  The company Proterra makes fully electric buses, and North Carolina will soon see four of these buses hit their streets.  The governing board for Raleigh Durham International Airport has agreed to purchase four of Proterra’s Catalyst E2 fully-electric buses, four charging stations, and the required infrastructure and training at a cost of $3.4 million.  The cost was offset by a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).   Read more »

  • Vending Machines or Barn Raising: The Role of Local Government in Community Building

    I recently was asked to speak to a joint meeting of town councils of four communities in Eastern North Carolina. The subject they asked me to speak about was community engagement. What I ended up spending most of my time talking about were two frames for thinking about the role of local government in the overall process of community building. The two frames are local government as vending machine and local government as barn raising. In 1996, Frank Benest, former city manager of Palo Alto, California, wrote an article in ICMA’s Public Management (PM) magazine asking whether local government was serving customers or engaging citizens. He used the metaphor of the vending machine (which he attributed to another city manager, Rick Cole) to describe the common way local government’s are thought of.

    Read more »

  • Economic Development Organizations Receive Top Honors for 2017

    A perpetual interest in the field of economic development is identifying “best practices” and benchmarking the “state-of-the art” with respect to promising tools, strategies, and programs.  One source for this type of information is the Excellence in Economic Development Awards competition administered by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) over the past several years.  The IEDC awards competition recognizes success, innovation, creativity, quality, and community impact in the work of economic development organizations.

    Organizations submit entries to be considered for awards in various categories including promotional materials, internet and new media, programs, and partnerships.  Judges apply specific criteria in reviewing the submissions to select gold, silver, and bronze level winners for each category based on the size of the population served.

    IEDC announced the 2017 award recipients in September at its Annual Conference in Toronto.  Two North Carolina organizations were recognized this year.  Electricities of North Carolina, Inc. is the silver winner in the General Purpose Print Promotion category (population greater than 500,000) for its NC Public Power Calendar.  The calendar uses journalistic photos and short stories to highlight distinctive businesses, destinations, and community leaders in the Electricities service area.  The Town of Fuquay-Varina is the silver winner in the Video/Multimedia Promotion category (population 25,000-200,000) for its State of the Town Address video, which communicates the town’s economic development and community achievements.

    The Program Awards category includes multi-year programming, business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship, neighborhood development, human capital, sustainable and green development, and real estate redevelopment/reuse.  The numerous award winners in this category constitute a database that is worth mining for examples of best practice and promising strategy.  A few of the notable 2017 winners include:

    • Charleston (SC) Regional Development Alliance – Opportunity Next: Building a Globally Competitive Economy for Charleston
    • York County, VA – Home-Based Business Assistance Program
    • Howard County (MD) Economic Development Authority – Ellicott City Flash Flood Response and Recovery
    • City of Norfolk, VA – Norfolk-Works Waterside Week Hiring Event
    • Prince William County, VA – Prince William Science Accelerator
    • Paducah (KY) Economic Development – Historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant Redevelopment
    • Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership – Farmers Exchange Building Redevelopment
  • Courting Locally: The Economic Gardening Strategy

    It is a story as old as time. The process can be exhausting in the pursuit of “the one”, and the search can go long and far. While that old story typically refers to love, the same can be said for the relationship between places and economic development. Cities across the country have continually pursued big businesses meant to stimulate their economies and increase wealth. This courtship of large companies typically means offering incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies, which can present challenges in ensuring cities are getting fair deals. But what if “the one” was right before their eyes? What if communities could grow their economies from within? Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: September 2017

    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:

    North Carolina Department of Commerce report: “Mecklenburg and Wake Counties accounted for 41% of the state’s net 2016 population increase” http://bit.ly/2f2gB4B

    UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative helps Durham County weigh options and engage community stakeholders: http://bit.ly/2ft8JZV

    Other CED items:

    Bloomberg News offers detailed look at state historic preservation. tax credits and recommendations from report on Missouri’s tax credit program: http://bit.ly/2yIn2Cj

    Four data-driven approaches to address vacant and abandoned properties: http://bit.ly/2gwxo3u

    Case studies in how communities can unlock the value of federal property: http://bit.ly/2f8QmcD

    Summary of recent academic articles on the impact of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) on lending to low and medium income groups: http://bit.ly/2fhk5DJ

    In op-ed, former Delaware governor proposes 100% tax on corporate revenue from government incentives, hopes to end “giveaways”: http://nyti.ms/2yHnMr8 Read more »

  • What’s the deal with modular construction?

    AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown

    In May of this year, Marriott International announced that it would ramp up the use of modular construction in its hotels. Marriott said they anticipated signing on at least 50 hotels in 2017 alone that would be primarily modular, citing that this type of construction would enable them to generate returns for their partners faster, decrease waste, and employ a steady and reliable skilled labor force. In fact, one of these 50 properties is in Chapel Hill; the new AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown. The four-story above-ground structure (with two levels of parking beneath) will boast 123 guest rooms, all built using modular construction. Read more »

  • Legal and Business Reasons Why Downtown Development Programs Should Involve Secured Loans—Not Grants

    Dr. Blaine Beeper is a retired hospital administrator who was recently elected to council in the Town of Bushwood. Dr. Beeper thinks he has figured out how to jumpstart revitalization of Bushwood’s historic downtown. He proposes for the Town to offer annual cash grants to any owner who redevelops a commercial property within the downtown. Dr. Beeper reasons that redeveloped properties will carry a higher tax assessed value, and the additional tax revenue can be “granted back” to the owners in the form of cash grants for five years, calculated as some percentage of the additional property taxes received by the Town.  When Dr. Beeper floats this idea, he runs into resistance from the Town Attorney and the Economic Development Director, each for different reasons. The Town Attorney raises serious concerns about the legality of such a program, while the Economic Development Director says it doesn’t make good business sense and a loan program would better address owners’ financing needs. This post explains the legal and business reasons why Dr. Beeper’s proposed grant program should be scrapped in favor of a loan program. Read more »

  • Federal Housing Finance Options for Mixed-Use Development

    Federal housing finance policies and programs exist to provide financing for the acquisition and construction of homes and boost investment in the housing industry. While a variety of housing loan products exist, a report released by the Regional Plan Association (RPA) in February 2016 highlighted the unintended consequences of housing finance policies at that time. One of the consequences highlighted was the structure of federal loan programs that did not support mixed-use, multi-family developments, effectively limiting the access of these properties to financing options. In areas where two and three story buildings with the potential to support residential spaces above commercial storefronts exist, this type of access could be crucial to revitalization and diversification of neighborhoods. Read more »

  • Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Programs in North Carolina: Part II

    There are several ways for state and local leaders to promote investments in their communities and reduce utility costs for residents. One tool that has been often overlooked in North Carolina are Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs. This post examines the benefits and drawbacks of commercial and residential PACE programs. A previous blog post outlined the PACE program in general and its history in North Carolina.

    All PACE assessments follow the general structure outlined in the first blog post on this issue. This framework allows property owners to install energy efficiency (EE) or renewable energy (RE) upgrades with little or no up-front costs. Read more »

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