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…]

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…]

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 |

  • 4% LIHTC Use in North Carolina’s Triangle Region

    A Brief Introduction to the 4% Low-Income Housing Tax Credit

    Development of low-income housing in the United States continues to be a challenge for local governments, affordable housing developers, and policy advocates. Institutional, market, and financing obstacles are all barriers to increasing the supply of affordable housing. Since the passage of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) have helped finance 2.6 million low-cost housing units. The LIHTC program seeks to address the financial barriers by incentivizing private investment in the affordable housing market. Despite lower vacancy and debt service common in affordable housing deals, lower rents often result in a project that are not feasible for private developers, resulting in a funding gap. Developers of low-income housing units, therefore, must gain access to various sources of gap financing such as low-income housing tax credits.

    The LIHTC program offers two tax credits types: the 4% and the 9%. The 9% credits, limited by federal law and distributed on a per capita basis to states, amount to a larger benefit for the tax credit developer, usually accounting for 70% of total project costs. However, use of the 9% credits prohibit the developer from using additional federal subsidy programs and a competitive application process allocates limited credits to a few successful bids. The 4% credits, on the other hand, leave open the opportunity for developers to take advantage of additional federal subsidies and are accessible through a noncompetitive application, but cover a smaller portion of the total project costs (usually nearing 30%). The additional funding sources eligible for 4% LIHTC projects help to close this larger funding gap. Read more »

  • How Should We Measure Community and Household Economic Conditions?

    One of the fundamental measures for CED officials to track is a community’s economic condition. This issue of measuring economic condition, whether for an entire community or a single household, has taken on a central role in policy discussions recently, ranging from an emphasis on income inequality in academic research, to social movements, to political discussions on reforming anti-poverty social safety net programs such as Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It is also part of the discussion in new analysis of the types of jobs coming to North Carolina, which is finding that the state is missing out on middle-class wage job growth.

    In many instances, official government measures such as the poverty, unemployment, and related social safety net participation rates are used to reflect local economic condition.  These measures have long been recognized as flawed and/or limited Read more »

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

    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 provides an overview of PACE programs and their history in North Carolina.  A subsequent post will examine the benefits and drawbacks of PACE financing in more detail.

    PACE Overview

    PACE Programs allow state and local governments to facilitate or directly fund fixed energy efficiency or renewable energy installations. These projects are often unattractive because they require high up-front investments that only payoff over time. PACE programs overcome this problem by allowing property owners to make improvements without paying any upfront cash. Local governments can structure PACE financing so it has little or no impact on their balance sheet. PACE programs can also be combined with other clean energy incentives. Read more »

  • An Innovation District in Downtown Durham: Will It Mean Gentrification? Not Necessarily…

    On March 16, 2017, Longfellow Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Duke University and Measurement Inc., broke ground on the first phase of new construction on the Durham Innovation District, or Durham.ID, in downtown. Durham.ID describes itself as “1.7M square feet of possibility nestled among lab rats, hipster, locavores, artists, pre-revenue-work-all-night start-up junkies, and a few thousand rabid Bulls and Blue Devils Fans.” Tenants, including Duke University and Duke Clinical Research Institute, will be housed in two seven-story office buildings located at the corner of Morris and Hunt streets, with access to a 1,200-vehicle, eight-story parking deck. Read more »

  • Our Shared Fate

    Our Shared Fate was the title of an Aspen Institute report from 2008, which argued that bridging the rural-urban divide created new opportunities for prosperity and equity.  A Brookings Institution report published in the previous year, made the case that rural and urban areas are interdependent and that national prosperity requires both a healthy and sustainable rural economy and culture and vibrant, well-functioning cities and suburbs. This suggests that rural and urban communities should be looking for common cause…and removing obstacles that currently get in the way of meaningful dialogue. Yet a decade later, the longstanding debate about the future of rural America, and specifically, about an apparently deepening divide between rural and urban America continues unabated. This blog is the first of a two-part exploration of how this plays out in North Carolina.

    Read more »

  • Renewables: Beyond Traditional Small Scale Applications (Part II)

    Solar Roadway

    The first CED post in this series explored non-traditional uses of renewable energy that went beyond traditional on-roof and on-ground arrays. Those included solar canopies, roofs, and shingles, whose value-add is the possibility of producing a space that can be used for more than power generation. But not all options are about creating additional space. In some cases, the best option is to add solar generation capabilities to existing spaces in the least intrusive way. How do you generate clean energy at a park without unsightly modifications? Where do you install solar panels on a modern skyscraper? What if you want to modernize an existing structure? For each of this questions, the answer lies in new solar technology capable of adding solar generation capabilities to a wide array of spaces. Read more »

  • What @sog_ced is reading online: June 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:

    SECU Foundation provides financing to create affordable housing for teachers in Asheville, NC:

    Craft beer and breweries play an important role in local government placemaking efforts in distressed or rural areas.

    Triangle Business Journal reports 10.5% job growth in North Carolina over the past 5 years, mainly in urban areas. Wake County adds 46 new jobs a day:

    New Census estimates show North Carolina’s fast-growing older adult population is also increasingly diverse:

    Other CED items:

    How the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program has been used for community development in low income areas. 

    Fannie Mae brief examines the productivity of locally initiated inclusionary zoning programs across the nation.  Read more »

  • Studying the Affordability of Water Rates

    The affordability of water and wastewater rates is an issue that is attracting more attention than ever. In particular, “A Burgeoning Crisis? A Nationwide Assessment of the Geography of Water Affordability in United States”—a recent paper out of Michigan State University— has generated a great deal of debate and dialogue about the issue. The paper is worth reading for yourself, but the primary conclusion of the paper is that over the next five years, at least 35.6% of the U.S. population will have combined water and wastewater bills greater than 4.5% of their community’s median household income. Read more »

  • Conveyance of property in a public-private partnership for a “downtown development project”

    Downtowns across America are experiencing a renaissance. Population growth in downtowns has outpaced growth in the broader regions in which those downtowns are located. North Carolina downtowns are likewise experiencing record growth. To capitalize on this renewed interest in downtowns, private developers and local governments are increasingly seeking to partner on relatively larger, coordinated development projects that involve construction of both public and private facilities.

    Often these public-private partnerships are necessary because the local government owns property downtown and needs a private partner to develop it. When a municipality (not a county) seeks to partner with a private developer for development of a downtown parcel involving construction of both public and private facilities, there is a statute designed just for that purpose: G.S. 160A-458.3 Downtown development projects. The statute makes some potentially confusing references to a variety of other statutes when authorizing disposition of real property and therefore requires some explanation. This post provides historical context for the statute and describes the property disposition procedures. Read more »

  • Leading development projects through text messages and skype?

    In the community and economic development field, regional and statewide organizations are commonplace. In North Carolina, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina is a statewide economic development agency with regional industry representatives in all corners of the state. The North Carolina Department of Commerce maintains offices throughout the state.  Smaller economic development organizations may broaden their reach by having some employees live closer to the location of projects and further from headquarters. Even here at the School of Government, some employees are granted the option to work from remote or home offices.

    Having staff members dispersed across large geographic areas far from headquarters creates challenges for leaders, who must set a vision for the organization, incorporate location into work assignments, monitor work from afar, and ensure staff remain motivated. The culture and morale of the organization often depends on the communication and relationship that is established by leadership, but attempts to create positive work environments can be challenging in an era when work may not be done in the same physical office.  As flexible work schedules and telework become a new standard, leaders must consider how they will adapt.    Read more »

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