Posts on Social & Civic Assets

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  • Local Governments and Non-Profits: Building Community Through Partnership

    NBC News recently aired a short feel-good story during its Nightly News broadcast about a code enforcement officer working for the City of Petaluma, California. Joe Garcia had received multiple complaints about a dilapidated home surrounded by overgrown weeds. Clearly the home was out of compliance, and so the natural [more…]

  • The Power of Partnership: The Case of the NC Commerce Park in Alamance County

    The N.C. Commerce Park in Alamance County, North Carolina is an economic development success story that underscores how vital interlocal and regional collaboration is for community and economic development. It highlights the power of partnership and also the importance of local leaders that share a collaborative mindset.

  • Understanding the Tools Available for CED Professionals: How Far Do NC Local Governments Go in Social Media Presence?

    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 [more…]

  • Mapping North Carolina’s Local Food Infrastructure

    Strengthening local food economies can be viewed as an important part of a holistic approach to community development. Local food can be a positive contributor to social capital, public health, environmental preservation, and overall quality of life. It also can be an important component of local economic development. In [more…]

  • Is Your Local Community Partner Ready To Go?

    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 [more…]

  • New Book of Interest: This is Where You Belong

    I am just finishing a pre-publication version of a forthcoming book by Melody Warnick titled “This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live” (available June 21, 2016). Warnick is a fellow-blogger on the Community Engagement Learning Exchange, writing about all things community from [more…]

  • Live Long and Prosper: Does CED Impact How Long We Live?

    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 [more…]

  • Community Food Strategies: Food System Network Building in NC

    As I have written about before, I see local food organizing as a powerful community building enterprise. Because everyone eats, local food efforts literally can have an impact on entire communities. And because local food organizing touches upon all aspects of community capital (social, environmental, financial, and so on), [more…]

  • Town-Gown Development Partnerships

    In implementing plans for neighborhood revitalization, municipalities look for partners whose investment can help lift the desire for revitalization from plan into action. In the past 20 years, one of those partners has increasingly become the local university. Local universities and colleges already have a substantial commitment to the place in [more…]

  • What is Your Strategic Vision?

    A familiar Biblical Proverb states: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” I would argue that this principle is true for communities and organizations as well. Perish may be too strong a word, but I do think we could say something like, “when a community or organization has [more…]

  • Downtown Schools & CED

    A recent post on the CED blog discussed the relationships that make up a downtown public school. The Downtown School in Winston-Salem, NC demonstrates a school as an opportunity to add a level of vibrancy to the downtown area by mutually benefitting the students, parents, and myriad other organizations [more…]

  • Economic Development via “White Hat” Hacking? 2015 Statewide Conference – CityCamp NC

    The 2015 edition of CityCamp NC was held in Raleigh, June 11-13. It is the sixth year of bringing citizens, local and state government, and businesses together to improve the quality of life through information technology (IT) and the use of open, public data. Local elected officials from Cary, [more…]

  • Civic Crowdfunding

    Earlier posts on this blog have explored the idea of crowdfunding and its legal implications, growing popularity as a source of capital, and use in supporting local businesses. As these posts explained, crowdfunding is the concept of online fundraising from a pool of many different donors or investors. These online [more…]

  • A Look at the 2015 NC Civic Health Index

    How healthy is civic life in North Carolina? Unlike testing blood pressure, or logging exercise time as measures of physical health, making a measure of civic connectedness and activity is tricky. The NCSU Institute for Emerging Issues took on this effort by producing the NC Civic Health Index, 2015 [more…].

  • The Heart of Collaborative Leadership

    The need for collaborative leaders in communities and regions has never been greater. Most, if not all, of the community development issues we grapple with are highly complex and “boundary crossing,” meaning they cut across organizational, jurisdictional, and sectoral boundaries. Collaborative leaders are catalysts who bring stakeholders together to address shared [more…]

  • A Gathering of NC Food Councils

    Last week (December 4-5) I attended a remarkable event, perhaps the first of it’s kind. It was a gathering of people involved in local food system work from all across North Carolina, as well as some representatives from South Carolina and Virginia. The title of the event was “Connecting [more…]

  • Many Mini-Bonds in the Mile High City

    $12 million in one hour: That’s not a report of the ticket sales for the Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood’s Greensboro show last week. That is how much the City of Denver raised directly from the citizens of Colorado for the final phase of its Better Denver capital campaign [more…].

  • Guidance for Small Towns on Community Development Outreach Using Information Technology

    While larger towns, counties and state governments are promoting their online services, and investing in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, how can smaller towns make sure they are not left behind? Community development entails on the ground, high-touch work. But potential employers and residents tied to their [more…]

  • University Roles in Economic Development

    Universities can help promote economic development in a variety of ways. As Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter notes in an article, universities contribute to regional competitiveness by supporting key industry clusters. According to Porter, universities themselves are part of a growing and increasingly important “education and knowledge creation” [more…]

  • Downtown Parks as Economic Development

    Downtown revitalization takes many forms, and for some cities downtown parks are a major catalyst for redevelopment. From New York’s Central Park to Greensboro’s Central City Park, parks have not only provided open green space for recreation and community gatherings, but have also fostered interest from private developers in [more…]

  • City of Greensboro’s SC2 Challenge: Using A Prize Competition for Economic Development

    In September 2012, the City of Greensboro was awarded a $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to administer an “Economic Visioning Challenge,” as part of the Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative. This post describes SC2, the “Challenge,” and Greensboro’s focus areas for economic development.

  • Community Food Councils: Questions and Answers

    On April 17, 2014 a webinar was held by UNC School of Government, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and the NC Community Transformation Grant (CTG) on food councils. Community and regional food councils (sometimes called food policy councils) are rapidly emerging as important mechanisms to stimulate the kind of dialogue and concerted action [more…]

  • Food Councils and Food Hubs

    This post is a follow-up to a webinar held April 17, 2014 on community food councils. A question was posed during the webinar: What is the relationship between food councils and food hubs? This post addresses that question.

  • Can you manage the organizational culture of your local Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Board?

    An organizational culture will be established or will occur… be proactive.    Elected leaders in Oceanboro promised voters that they would transform the way economic development services are delivered in the city—incentive policies, support for entrepreneurs, and new industrial sites—but they haven’t offered any specifics. The task of figuring [more…]

  • Councils, Common Purpose, and Collaboration

    I read a terrific blog post at Harvard Business Review (HBR) the other day about collaboration. The author explained that “purpose is collaboration’s most unacknowledged determinant.” Community collaboration has never been more important as today’s challenges are too complex and interconnected for any one organization–government or otherwise–to handle alone [more…].

  • What We Can Learn About Community Leadership from Sir Ernest Shackleton

    One of the cases I have students read in the leadership class I teach is the story of the Endurance expedition to Antarctica, led by famed polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. This story has received a tremendous amount of attention in the last several years, with several books and documentaries, [more…]

  • Neighborhood Resistance to Redevelopment: A Case from Memphis, TN

    The City of Memphis, Tennessee was an early adopter and frequent user of HOPE VI funds to demolish traditional public housing and redevelop mixed-income sites. Over the past 15 years, the Memphis Housing Authority (MHA) has received more than $155 million Federal dollars to demolish five public housing complexes that had housed [more…]

  • Local Foods as Community Development, Some Questions and Answers

    Earlier in this Fall I reported on a webinar co-sponsored by the UNC School of Government and the Center for Environmental Farming System (CEFS) on local food and local government. The purpose of the webinar was to educate local government officials about how the local food movement can be an [more…]

  • An environmental finance option that will take your breath away

    I spent part of this past October weekend among a huge crowd of families enjoying a wonderful combination of North Carolina fall weather, fun, food, entertainment, educational activities, and adventure activities.  Must have been the NC State Fair, right? Actually while the description may hold, the festival I’m referring [more…]

  • Highlights from IEDC Annual Conference 2013

    On October 6-9, the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) held its annual conference in the ‘City of Brotherly Love,” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This year’s conference theme was Transformation, Innovation, Reinvention: Creating Tomorrow’s Economy Today.  Several of the concurrent sessions offered unique resources and perspectives on the field. A few interesting [more…]

  • USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Loan and Grant Program

    In the Town of Elk Park, a rural mountainous community of 453 residents in western North Carolina, the Town Hall currently operates out of an 80-year-old single-family house. Numerous attempts to update the facility have left the building in a state of non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act [more…]

  • Why Local Governments Should be Thinking About Local Food Systems

    Last month I hosted a webinar here at the School of Government, in partnership with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (or CEFS for short),  on the topic of local foods and local government. I was fortunate enough to have with me a who’s who of local foods experts [more…]

  • Historic School Redevelopment (Durham, NC)

    Yesterday, Sept 4th, community leaders, elected officials, school administrators and a team from Self-Help gathered in NE Central Durham to celebrate the opening of a revitalized historic asset. The historic YE Smith School, a 54,000 square foot building originally constructed in 1910, is the new home to the Maureen [more…]

  • Book Recommendation on Civic Leadership

    A new book by David Chrislip and Ed O’Malley titled For the Common Good is a highly recommended source of ideas on how civic leadership can facilitate meaningful change in our communities. The title captures how the authors argue we should redefine civic leadership. Rather than being motivated by [more…]

  • Food Trucks, Local Regulation, and Community Economic Development

    With the growing popularity of food trucks, cities and towns across North Carolina are considering strategies to regulate the increasing number of mobile vendors selling meals while also recognizing the value of food trucks in terms of community & economic development. A food truck is a mobile, miniature commercial [more…]

  • Preparing for the Silver Tsunami: Participatory Planning for Aging in Orange County, NC

    The United States is turning gray, and that isn’t a reference to the wet weather we have seen lately. The number of older adults aged 65 and older is expected to double by the year 2050 to an estimated 88.5 million seniors. North Carolina is no exception, especially given [more…]

  • Master Development Agreements: Evaluate Contingencies

    Five years ago, excitement was building over the prospect of a new downtown vision. Local officials had just signed a long-term development agreement with an experienced master developer known for successful downtown redevelopment projects. The town and the developer worked hard to create a downtown “vision plan” that would [more…]

  • Community Development and a Sense of Place

    The work of community development is very much tied to place. Even though today we speak of virtual communities or communities of practice that are disconnected from place, when we speak of community development we are talking about developing the capacity of local communities–neighborhoods, towns, regions. Wendell Berry is [more…]

  • Try using “yes, and” in your next economic development strategy session

    You are meeting with members of your economic development board and trying to make decisions about infrastructure investment to promote growth. One member wants to focus the discussion on the need to construct a new shell building, while another member wants to talk about water and sewer infrastructure. The [more…]

  • Measuring quality of life or “livability” within a community

    What draws and retains residents to a specific community?  Are there characteristics that make a local jurisdiction a particularly livable place, and can this concept be measured?  As many local jurisdictions seek strategies to encourage economic development, some are giving equal attention to the concept of livability to ensure [more…]

  • Local Food Policy Councils as Community Development Strategy

    One might say that the local foods movement or “locavorism” is all the rage. We’ve done several posts here on the CED Blog about local food systems as they relate to community economic development. I posted a while ago about the local foods movement as community economic development. Sybil [more…]

  • Breweries and economic development: A case of home brew

    Something is brewing in small towns throughout North Carolina. Far outside the city limits of Beer City U.S.A. (also known to North Carolinians as Asheville), craft breweries are opening up in and around distressed downtowns throughout the state. Part industrial facility, part retail space, part bar/restaurant, and part real [more…]

  • Do You Hear What New Elected Officials Are Saying about Economic Development?

    This time of year, I travel across North Carolina orienting newly elected city and county officials. I routinely ask why they ran for office and hear how they want to strengthen the economy or attract good jobs. New to a city council or board of commissioners, these elected officials [more…]

  • Promise Neighborhood Project, Kinston, NC

    Kinston Promise is a comprehensive approach to educating children and strengthening families in the town of Kinston, a mid-size community in eastern North Carolina. An organization, Kinston Promise Neighborhood, Inc., works through existing community-based programs to create a continuum of “cradle-through-college” solutions to improve the academic and developmental outcomes for [more…]

  • Identifying Future Leaders in Rural Areas is a Challenge

    “One-Stoplight Town Seeks Just One Mayor” is the title of an article published last month in the New York Times. The quote that would send chills down the spine of anyone who cares for their small rural community is, “Nobody wants to be the mayor.” Identifying future leaders in [more…]

  • What @sog_ced is reading on the web: December 2012

    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. Richard Florida says there is “virtually no association between [more…]

  • Collaboration and Community Resilience

    In the wake of the recent mega-storm Sandy, we hear a lot of discussion about “community resilience.” RAND Corporation defines community resilience as “the sustained ability of a community to utilize available resources to respond to, withstand, and recover from adverse situations.”  Hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires are certainly all [more…]

  • “Territorial Assets” and the Latest from Richard Florida

    Richard Florida has done more than perhaps any single analyst to bring attention to the importance of quality of life amenities and place making strategies in attracting talented, creative, and highly skilled people to a community, which in turn will fuel economic growth.  His influential 2002 book describes the [more…]

  • Redevelopment of Historic Downtown Theater: Don Gibson Theatre (Shelby, NC)

    When the Don Gibson Theatre reopened in 2009 in uptown Shelby, NC, it didn’t take long for locals and visitors to start filling the newly renovated, 400 seat auditorium. Named after the hometown country music hero, Don Gibson, the fully updated theatre emphasizes the city’s deep musical heritage and [more…]

  • New Western NC Food Policy Council Sets the Table for Community Economic Development

    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 [more…]