For the past five months I served as a visiting scholar to the University of Ghent in Belgium. The link between food insecurity, a particular focus on my work in North Carolina, and larger overall economic insecurity issues has been getting increased focus across a number of European countries. Belgium is much smaller in geographic size, but has nearly the same population as North Carolina, and similar overall poverty rates. It has Continue reading “Lessons for CED from Europe: Housing, Job, Food, or Fuel Poverty…All Roads Lead to a Social Inclusion Model”
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 Continue reading “Lessons for CED from Europe: Inclusive Communities and a New City-Run Food Pantry”
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 Continue reading “How Should We Measure Community and Household Economic Conditions?”
Last year, nursing assistants in Goldsboro earned $11.83 an hour (median wage) for a mean annual salary of $24,610. Is this a sufficient wage to sustain a person who wants to live and work there?
Affordable housing for different demographic groups in North Carolina communities has been discussed in several prior blogs, including ones about affordable housing for teachers, seniors and those living in rural areas. A different perspective is available with the use of easily-accessible, wonderfully-detailed data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Continue reading “Making the Case for Affordable Housing: Using BLS Statistics to ask Hard Questions About Salaries vs. Local Housing Costs”
There have been numerous national reports of positive economic information over the past six months. Unemployment is low, economic growth is steady and even growing, jobs are being created and 10 years later, we are finally moving beyond the devastating impacts of the recession. It would appear that CED professionals should be preparing for how to handle the coming growth. But before launching the celebratory party, it would be better instead to look at the actual distribution of the data that lies underneath the aggregate headline numbers, and consider several disturbing, stark examples of the divided NC economy. Continue reading “Current Positive Economic News? Cheer, Then Take a Breath and Look Deeper at the Divided NC Economy”
This past Friday, at the Southeastern Conference for Public Administration 2016 Annual Conference in Raleigh, second year UNC MPA graduate student Sabrina Willard accepted the Robert Klein Award for her paper on the presence of social media in North Carolina jurisdictions. The results of her paper raise significant questions about the adoption and use of social media in local government, including its ability to support or detract from community and economic development (CED) work. Willard’s paper, including the full dataset, is attached with permission.
Image is obviously important for economic development efforts, and strong community engagement helps community development efforts. How does social media fit in? Lisa Baker called it “A Brave New World” in an article on social media for CED professionals in the Journal of Housing and Community Development in 2012. Baker argues social media is here to stay and CED professionals will need to figure out how to manage the new landscape. North Carolina seemed up to the challenge. In a 2010 report, Continue reading “Understanding the Tools Available for CED Professionals: How Far Do NC Local Governments Go in Social Media Presence?”
In July 2013, I wrote a blog proposing a four-part framework for understanding if specific local organizations have the capacity to implement CED programs. How well does this framework hold up when actually used? We answer this question using interviews with 31 local partners, over the past two years around a single, federally-funded, locally-administered community program in North Carolina. About half have given up on running the program. Continue reading “Is Your Local Community Partner Ready To Go?”
I often think about ways in which local government matters in the daily lives of citizens. This month, a major study was released showing how local conditions, and community and economic development, infrastructure, and planning in particular, may have a direct impact on the most basic quality of life indicator Continue reading “Live Long and Prosper: Does CED Impact How Long We Live?”
Food is in the news, and CED professionals should look below the surface images and arguments to a fundamental question raised about local capacity issues important to the NC farm and food industry. In honor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Food for All all-university 2015-2017 academic theme, this post offers the following food for thought (pun intended): Continue reading “Capacity Matters For CED, Part 2: News For the NC Food Industry and Farmers”
Community and economic development professionals are careful in monitoring the economic health of their communities. Economic growth is heralded; economic stress is cause for concern. One of the current issues in national public policy conversations is the growth in economic inequality, especially changes in household status across the whole economy, going beyond the traditional question of whether a location is doing well or poorly. Often the focus of the conversations is the distribution of income and/or its relative growth or decline. Income inequality is about how income is concentrated across the economic spectrum, and whether or not people are worse off or better than they were over time, relative to everyone else.
In North Carolina – the answer is clear. The state has seen a shift in economic distribution of income over time. In 2005, those making $100,000 or more, in real terms, comprised 12.1 percent of the population, but that amount increased to 17.9 percent by 2014. As the figure below shows Continue reading “CED Winners and Losers in the Same Space: Income Inequality in North Carolina”
When you make a decision to go forward with a Community Economic Development (CED) project or policy, have you thought through the ramifications for your staff or budget? This year, a course paper on body worn cameras written by a graduate student in the MPA program at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is gaining attention — but not because it touches on sensitive political or racial issues. It’s focus appears much more mundane – how a simple retention policy decision can have major implications for the entire IT department and local government budget. For CED professionals, it is a cautionary tale on understanding your capacity to adequately implement a policy or program before you adopt it. Continue reading “You say you want “Big Data” for Community Economic Development, but are you ready for it?”
When is it fair to write a blog post about another blog? When the goal is to let the local economic and community development professional community know about a new valuable information resource. In this case, it is Continue reading “A New Blog from the NC Department of Commerce for Community and Economic Development Professionals”
Three important headlines for economic and community development officials appeared in the past several days in the New York Times, Washington Post, and, closer to home, the News and Observer. Continue reading “Three Headlines, Two Futures for North Carolina?”
The Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM) recently held an international conference in Segovia, Spain around the theme “The Decline of the Middle Class?” The question mark at the end was intentional. Originally, the conference was titled “The Decline of the Middle Class in the Developed World” but it had changed by the time the conference took place, presumably because of the research presenters were bringing to the table.
In western nations, especially in the United States, the position of middle class households has deteriorated significantly through the recession and there is little sign of improvement. However, from a global perspective, the middle class is expanding, serving as a spur to economic growth, especially in India, Indonesia and China. The result was a different type of conversation around prospects for economic development, one driven by increasing global trade and ties. Yes, the middle class is declining in the U.S., but from a global perspective, the middle class is on an up-swing. How can local CED professionals make sense of this mixed message? Continue reading “Do Your Local Economic Development Plans Depend on the Middle Class … in China?”
The Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently released a new report challenging the common idea that rural areas are the most distressed in the state. Instead, the report highlights urban areas as the most distressed. The data in the report should be helpful for Community Economic Development (CED) professionals in urban areas who need evidence of where troubled areas are located and how deeply distressed they are.
The report, North Carolina’s Distressed Urban Tracts: A View of the State’s Economically Disadvantaged Communities, can be found Continue reading “Where in NC are the Most Distressed Communities? According to New Report, Look to Urban Areas”
Spring means budget season for local governments in North Carolina. Budget offices start budget formulation as early as December or January, but the most intense activity around the budget comes in late spring as staff budget recommendations are formed, public hearings are held and final funding decisions for the coming year are made. Whether within government or external to it, community economic development professionals should understand how local governments will be positioned regarding revenues in the coming year. Continue reading “Local Government Associations are Cautiously Optimistic about Economic Growth for FY 2014-2015”
Numerous prestigious universities in North Carolina hold huge amounts of expertise and data, but often it is inaccessible to professionals working at the local level. The relatively new center called Carolina Demography is an effort to bring the power of high-level population research to local needs. This post discusses the type of data available of interest to community economic development (CED) professionals, using migration data as an example.
The Carolina Population Center, located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been around for decades, but its work has focused primarily on supporting major academic research initiatives, primarily national and international in nature. A little more than a year ago, however, it launched a new service called Carolina Demography. In making the announcement, the Director of the Population Center noted “In recent years…we have done little to serve directly the state of North Carolina.” The new service is meant to provide North Carolina-specific data and consulting services on population and demographic trends to communities. Continue reading “Who’s Moved Out and Who’s Moved In: Exploring Housing and Migration Data Using a New Data Resource—Carolina Demography”
Congress and the White House are in the midst of budget negotiations, making it a good time to review federal budget basics so community and economic development professionals will understand how different streams of funding are affected. This post is a quick ‘Federal Budget Process 101’ as it relates to the current issues in the news, and it highlights a few affected programs of relevance to community economic development professionals. Continue reading “What’s Going On With the Federal Budget? A Review of the Basics with a Focus on Housing and Economic Development Programs”
Say you have learned of a community economic development (CED) program that seems to be a perfect fit for your area. The need is already there and well documented, the program provides the right mix of projects, and all the program financial resources are available and already approved. All that is needed is the local government to ‘do it’ – that is, officially apply, implement, administer, and report on the program at the community level. Seems like a slam-dunk, right? Now imagine what your reaction would be if the city or county manager turned it down?
It might be that the local government simply can’t take on any more, no matter how wonderful an opportunity the proposal seems to be. This scenario is the basis for a new conversation in local government policy arenas – the issue of local capacity. Continue reading “Does Your Community Have the Capacity to Undertake Community Economic Development?”
The USDA has made a new compass map available — Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass Map http://www.usda.gov/maps/maps/kyfcompassmap.htm.
Viewers can see where U.S. Department of Agriculture projects are located throughout the nation. The map is available for the entire US, but one can zoom down to the region, state, local area, or the zip code level. Markers are placed on the map corresponding to the community which received USDA funding for a variety of projects or programs. (Multiple projects within a zip code are represented by just one marker). When you look at the North Carolina map, one sees a cluster of projects in Continue reading “USDA Projects in North Carolina Mapped”
Community development efforts obviously depend on support by local financial actors. Through the Community Reinvestment Act, banks and other financial institutions are monitored on how well they serve low and moderate income areas in the communities they serve. One of the indicators regulators use is the amount of activity in areas designated as nonmetropolitan, middle-income, economically distressed or underserved. These are often rural areas. Distressed counties are defined as Continue reading “Community Reinvestment Act Communities Identified”
Food is connecting communities to each other in new ways in western North Carolina. Last spring, Western Carolina University (WCU) held a forum on the causes and consequences of poverty in western North Carolina. The result was the new Western NC Food Policy Council. The overall mission of the Council is “planning and advocating for greater food security and stronger food economies in…Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Macon, Jackson and Haywood (counties).” The project will assist with guiding, coordinating, implementing, and funding food projects in the far west region, with the Public Policy Institute of WCU providing administrative support.
The Council is impressive because of how quickly it came together with support across a wide range of sectors in the communities. The project aims to bring together food providers, distribution networks, policy leaders, food security agencies, and economic advocates. The full 49-member council includes elected officials, state agency representatives, food pantry operators, farmers, local government officials, planners, and non-profit directors, among a wide variety of other professionals. At this point, the Council is forming two main committees to work on specific goals and projects to reach those goals: an Education/Wellness/Outreach Committee and a Farmer Support and Economic Development Committee.
The work in western North Carolina is reflective of a growing interest nationwide and in North Carolina with connecting public health issues, the local food movement, community and urban gardens, local community social needs and local economic development efforts. Continue reading “New Western NC Food Policy Council Sets the Table for Community Economic Development”
Local economic development officials are familiar with a variety of measures of a community’s economic condition. Most of these measures are based on trend data such as sales taxes, housing values or new construction, or building or hotel vacancy rates. Feeding America, a non-profit representing the nation’s food banks, is spearheading an innovative alternative that measures economic activity on the basis of whether it generates enough resources to feed everyone in the community. Continue reading “Is there an economic “meal gap” in your community?”
Maureen Berner is a School of Government faculty member
Did you know that across North Carolina, only about 12 percent of eligible kids receive free summer meals via an existing federally funded Summer Foods Program? What kind of economic impact might occur with higher participation rates in the program? This post describes early findings from a School of Government evaluation of North Carolina’s Summer Foods Program and concludes that local economies could benefit from higher participation rates. Continue reading “Economic Impact of NC Summer Foods Program”
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