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.

What @sog_ced is reading online: July 2020

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:

US Dept of Commerce announces CARES Act funding for existing revolving loan funds across North Carolina https://bit.ly/2Dl192w

NC Policy Watch article states that housing advocates, legal experts expect wave of evictions following expiration of state moratorium https://bit.ly/3hW8sgc 

CED items:

Amount of funding still available in the federal Paycheck Protection Program (a federal loan program with loan forgiveness for small businesses) according to the SBA report. bit.ly/31UwZ0q

The School’s Development Finance Initiative (DFI) is evaluating financial feasibility of redeveloping “largest single-owner piece of property in downtown Mocksville” https://bit.ly/2DlkUXJ

Read More…

Land Revitalization and Brownfield Grants

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program has the power to transform communities. Since 1995, the federal program has assessed over 30,000 properties and designated 92,000 acres for anticipated reuse. North Carolina has been working in tandem under state statute since 1997, and has issued more than 550 brownfields agreements to protect projects ranging from $100,000 to over $70 billion in committed private investment through brownfields redevelopment.[1] To be clear, the EPA defines a brownfield as “a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.”

The Community and Economic Development Program in UNC’s School of Government has written extensively about brownfield grants and agreements over the years. This post will dive deeper into the connection between brownfields and land revitalization. Land revitalization, defined loosely as “sustainable redevelopment of abandoned properties,” is a key aspect of the brownfield grants program, but it is not always perceived as part of the “bread and butter” grants (i.e. Assessment Grants, Cleanup Grants, and Revolving Loan Fund Grants). Read More…

A COVID Silver Lining for CED Professionals: Innovation

Last October a CED post highlighted the importance of understanding the capacity of nonprofits who work with local governments to provide needed social services. The focus at the time was on the program participation tipping point, where community partners disengaged from participating in a program because they lacked the capacity to be able to meet program guidelines and requirements. The program in question was one that provided healthy meals for school-age children during the summer, when they couldn’t access the school cafeteria as they would do during the school year.

The post presented four key aspects of organizational capacity: Administrative, Financial, Infrastructure, and Personnel. As explained in that post, an example of administrative burden would be required paperwork in applications or reporting. An example of financial burden would be required financial security, match, or ability to carry costs. An example of infrastructure burden would be the need to have storage or transportation capability. An example of personnel burden would be the need to provide staff or volunteers, with or without a particular expertise.

Unfortunately, COVID has forced a much brighter spotlight on the key issue of nonprofit capacity. When schools were forced to close this spring, almost 1,000,000 children across North Carolina who would normally receive free and reduced-price lunch through the school system still needed to be fed, regardless of an unfolding pandemic. Schools, local governments, nonprofits, and scores of volunteers had to develop entirely new systems to meet this need in a matter of days. What was different this time was the significant new capacity issues that emerged. Read More…

Regulating Short-term rentals in the Staycation Future?

While COVID-19 is changing many facets of our world, one thing that seems unlikely to change is the proliferation of short-term rentals (e.g. Airbnb, VRBO, etc). With current interest in local travel outstripping 2019, pre-existing questions around if and how to regulate these businesses are only going to be more urgent. This post examines the current state of the short-term rental market and note the ways that COVID-19 and the economic downturn may, and may not, influence the conversations around short-term rentals for local governments. Read More…

Evicted in a Pandemic

Even in the best of times, evictions are all too common and generate excessive public costs – but COVID-19 has brought the crisis to a boiling point.

In recent months, housing security has not received the same degree of public attention as employment and health, though these issues are inextricably linked. Yes, unemployment – the rate of which approached nearly 25% in some parts of North Carolina in April – can lead to eviction, but the reverse is also true. Job loss is significantly more likely for those who are forcibly displaced from their homes, and eviction precipitates a host of negative health, social, and housing outcomes for years afterward, partly due to a public eviction record permanently limiting housing options and enabling discrimination. In other words, it’s not just that evictions disproportionately impact the vulnerable, but that evictions make previously-resilient households more vulnerable. This is especially obvious during a pandemic, where “doubling up,” a common response to eviction, undermines public health goals and increases transmission risk. Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: June 2020

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:

DFI provides project update to Southern Pines Town Council on neighborhood development analysis: https://bit.ly/31aG70k

HUD issues an opportunity zone toolkit Vol. 2. bit.ly/3hpfw5B. Check out DFI’s toolkit on North Carolina OZs: https://dfi.sog.unc.edu/projects/opportunity-zones

CED items:

The Ford Foundation borrows $1 billion through social bond issuance; proceeds to aid struggling nonprofits now without dipping into the foundation’s endowment. Other foundations are joining the effort. https://bit.ly/3cWviBk

Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco’s blog post provides a primer on racial equity: https://bit.ly/2XW56T9

Federal “Economic Injury Disaster Loan” (EIDL) program for small businesses and associated $10K federal grant “advance” was briefly restricted to agricultural businesses. Now open to more businesses again. cnb.cx/3hG8dGQ

International Economic Development Council explains why recognizing Juneteenth matters to economic development professionals. bit.ly/2UZofl4 Read More…

Seats on the Street: Changes to Outdoor Dining in the Time of COVID-19

With Governor Cooper’s announcement of Phase II reopening on May 22nd, restaurants are allowed to seat customers for the first time since March 17th. Many communities are breathing a sigh of relief; downtowns have suffered dramatically from the loss of business due to COVID-19, and the reopening of restaurants is hoped to bring more foot traffic and inject much-needed revenue. However, this is not a return to the pre-COVID dinner rush: restaurants are limited to seating no more than 50% of their capacity within their dining areas and must comply with all DHHS guidelines around social distancing. This poses a dilemma for many businesses: if you need a full staff to offer dine-in services, but can only serve 50% of your volume, can you justify reopening? Restaurant owners across the state and across the country are wrestling with this decision, and for many, 50% capacity simply won’t cut it. In order to offer a full range of dine-in services, they need to be able to serve more guests. To serve more guests and comply with social distancing, they need more dining space. Which brings us to the essential question: where can local restaurants get more space?

The answer, according to many local governments, is simple: sit outside! Allowing restaurants to expand their outdoor dining areas allows them to serve a greater portion of their capacity while still meeting social distancing guidelines. Local governments across North Carolina are in the process of implementing temporary changes that will allow restaurants to expand their operations into their parking lots, onto the sidewalks, and in some cases, onto main street itself. Questions about permits, regulations, and public safety abound, and local governments are managing these challenges with a variety of temporary processes. This post reviews some common initiatives from examples across the state, and offers some practical considerations for local governments looking to implement similar programs. Read More…

A Message from Dean Mike Smith

Like all of you, I have received heartfelt messages from many organizations about the killing of Mr. George Floyd and related events. Mr. Floyd’s death is the latest in a long line of black men, and women, who have been killed throughout our history largely because they were black. It is a shameful part of our past and present. There is no excuse for how long it has taken our country to address the systemic racism that continues to cause violence and so many other problems.

Action is required for this moment to bring about real and enduring progress on issues involving race and bias. Learning about racism is important. Focusing on our shortcomings and improving ourselves is important. None of those things will be enough if they are not accompanied by a commitment to addressing racial inequities in government and improving outcomes for African Americans.

The death of Mr. Floyd at the hands of law enforcement has opened our eyes and our hearts, and it has challenged the School to confront what we can do to help government promote greater racial equity and inclusion. This is a time for honesty and humility. The School has not done enough. In addition to focusing on our own understanding of racism and bias, we need your help in identifying action the School can take to help address them in your work.

The School remains committed to working closely with you in the ways you always have valued to improve the lives of North Carolinians. As our partners in public service, the School also is committed to doing more with you to address racism. We have included a two-question survey as a starting point. What can we do to help you?

Sincerely,

Mike Smith

Dean

What @sog_ced is reading online: May 2020

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.

COVID-19 Resources: Loan Funds & DFI Advising

NC guidance clarifies that small business loan programs can use Coronavirus Relief Funds, allowing local governments to design very business-friendly loan programs with long no-payment and amortization periods. bit.ly/2ZMnwqW

For more information on local government loan programs and COVID-19 related resources, visit: https://dfi.sog.unc.edu/covid-19/

UNC DFI team is available to advise local governments creating emergency loan funds for small businesses. Sign up here: https://www.sog.unc.edu/webforms/dfi-covid-advising

Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

Announcement by NC Golden LEAF about restarting its rapid recovery loan program after it was replenished by state funds appropriated in Session Law 2020-4. bit.ly/35wiFLa

Commentary in U.S. News & World Report highlights the public-private revitalization of downtown Kannapolis NC as a model, where UNC DFI (Development Finance Initiative) has led the planning and implementation. https://bit.ly/2Z0j6Mw

Wake County and the NC Rural Center collaborate on loan program for small businesses as part of the NC Rapid Recovery program to address COVID-19. bit.ly/3g74K2Z  

Read More…

Taxes In Troubling Times

Tax administration is obviously not at the top of any local government’s list of pandemic concerns.   But social distancing and other remedial measures made necessary by this public health crisis are creating some unusual challenges for tax offices, and some of those challenges relate to community and economic development.  This post addresses a few of the pandemic-related questions I’ve received from tax officials recently. Read More…