A Year in Lenoir County

About the Author

CED Program Interns & Students

Adam Parker is a Masters in Public Administration alumnus at UNC Chapel Hill. Parker is entering UNC Law in the fall and currently works with Lenoir County, North Carolina.

Over the past year, the Community Campus Partnership has engaged in a number of activities in Lenoir County. This post highlights those achievements and offers a glimpse of what is to come.

The Community Campus Partnership has engaged Lenoir County for over a year now. A reasonable question may be asked over a year in. What do we have to show for it? The answer, as one might suspect from a blog on the CCP website, is quite a bit. However, if you traveled to Lenoir County and talked to the people within its borders, you’d hear much of the same thing. What follows is an summary of some projects CCP has assisted with over the past year in Lenoir County. This list is incomplete, as CCP staff take on new initiatives often and help make connections between parties that may otherwise not occur.

Energy Efficiency

  • LED Streetlights – Last summer, CCP interns helped the City of Kinston design a streetlight replacement plan and applied for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to facilitate those replacements. CCP interns also interacted with Cree Inc, a Research Triangle Park based company that is a national leader in LED manufacturing. CREE runs the LED City Program, which is a special designation given to cities who pursue an LED strategy. While funding was not granted from ARRA funds, other funding streams were recently made available as part of the Main Street program in North Carolina. Having completed a grant already on LED lighting, the City is well positioned to apply for and obtain grant funding to begin a smaller scale project.
  • Facility Upgrades – CCP interns and staff helped facilitate the City of Kinston’s recent proposal of over $88,000 in facility upgrades to improve energy efficiency at city facilities. The grant was awarded by the State Energy Office and includes motion sensors, lighting retrofits, HVAC upgrades, and other energy efficiency strategies.

Historical Preservation and Tourism

  • Harvey Beech Historical Papers – The Community Campus Partnership helped facilitate a meeting between the daughter of noted UNC alum Harvey Beech and the Southern Historical Collection housed at UNC’s Wilson Library. Harvey Beech was the first African-American to graduate from UNC and also attended the UNC School of Law. Some of Mr. Beech’s papers were recently collected and are now housed at the Wilson Library.
  • African American Music Trail – CCP interns helped the Kinston Community Council for the Arts gain approval for grant applications to document the history of African American Musicians in Kinston. Kinston has a rich cultural history associated with its musicians, and recently received funding from state agencies and the GoldenLeaf foundation to develop those cultural assets.
  • Mural at Sampson School – UNC students helped procure $10,000 for the construction of a mural at Sampson School. Sampson is located along the Martin Luther King corridor, a major thoroughfare in Kinston. This mural is set to be completed later this year and will incorporate student art as well as other elements of Kinston’s rich history. Extensive work was done to determine the subject of the murals, integration of mural paneling into a new wrought-iron fence on the property, and collecting input for the subject of the murals.

Education and Job Training

  • NCSTEM Community Collaborative – CCP interns spent extensive time studying the needs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math in Lenoir County. Students helped develop an initial description of concept and developed a comprehensive business model for Lenoir County’s STEM delivery program. This is a significant need identified by the community as it transitions into a new aerospace industry in the region.
  • Direct Care Workforce Career Ladder Study – UNC students completed a study of the direct care workforce in Lenoir County, analyzing the existing climate for direct care workers and highlighting gaps where improvements can be made. Further study is ongoing to the broader health sector, with the ultimate goal of a cohesive strategy for workforce development in the health field.

Infrastructure and City Administration

  • Potential Tax Base Expansion Evaluations – CCP interns studied the potential revenues gathered by annexing certain industries into Kinston’s tax base. Interns studied utility usages, land valuations, and rates associated with different scenarios. Additionally, interns studied the increased tax valuations over time of downtown businesses, ultimately helping create the case for sidewalk construction to the GoldenLeaf foundation.
  • Martin Luther King Corridor Development – UNC students helped the City of Kinston develop a plan of action for one of its major thoroughfares, Martin Luther King Blvd. This thoroughfare connects Kinston to Greenville and receives significant traffic. The corridor often leaves an unfavorable impression on individuals passing through the city, hurting potential economic development projects. UNC students sought grant funding from the GoldenLeaf foundation and helped obtain over $422,000 for the revitalization of the corridor. Construction will begin shortly and when combined with other funding sources, represents over $990,000 in new investment by December 2011.

Looking Ahead

  • Expansion of Impact – Last week, CCP interns met with John Craft, Town Manager of LaGrange, NC. John identified three areas he’d like to see CCP staff concentrate on; energy-efficiency, downtown development, and parks and recreation development. By beginning this dialogue, CCP staff can expand beyond Kinston and into the broader county. LaGrange is a town of just over 2,700 citizens and expects to experience significant growth due to the proximity to Goldsboro and Kinston.
  • Pro Bono Project – Conversations are underway to bring UNC law students to Kinston next year to craft wills and other legal documents for low-income residents in Kinston. This is similar to a project completed last school year in Greenville and New Bern and stands to make a lasting impact for numerous residents.
  • Cardiac Health Intervention – Lenoir County was chosen as the site of a $10 million federal grant to conduct cardiac health research in Lenoir County. The School of Public Health, amongst other UNC departments, will conduct numerous studies and community outreach initiatives to improve the cardiac health of Lenoir County residents over the next five years. This grant is also expected to spur economic development of local food vendors, health facilities, and other groups with an interest in improving health outcomes in Lenoir County.
  • Comprehensive Needs Assessment of Lenoir County Residents – CCP interns are hard at work determining the needs of Lenoir County residents going forward, especially considering the potential population shifts that Sanderson Farms and Spirit Aerosystems’ openings may bring. Performing a comprehensive needs assessment of community stakeholders will help guide policy in the county and provide a base from which to work on future CCP projects.

Closing

Today, the GoldenLeaf foundation officially awarded over $2 million in funds to Lenoir County nonprofits, businesses, and governments. Spirit Aerosystems opened for business today as well. UNC MBA students presented a draft business plan to the NCSTEM team. These, along with many other events over the past year are changing the face of a once tobacco dependent county. It’s been an exciting year in Lenoir County, and the future looks even brighter. UNC has played a significant role to this point, and I only expect our impact to deepen in the years to come.

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