Category: Development Finance Initiative

The Development Finance Initiative (DFI) at the UNC School of Government assists local governments with attracting private investment for transformative projects by providing specialized finance and development expertise. DFI partners with communities on projects including building reuse, community development, downtown revitalization, economic development, neighborhood redevelopment, and small business finance. Click here for DFI contact information.

» Act Locally, Save Federally: The National Flood Insurance CRS Program

The UNC Environmental Finance Center (EFC) typically focuses on the role of local governments in directly providing and funding basic community environmental services such as water, wastewater, stormwater, and solid waste management. For example, the EFC recently released a set of resources related to local government stormwater fees that local programs use to fund their stormwater services. These types of resources help local governments raise funds for critical environmental protection activities but there are other ways that local governments can play a role in supporting environmental finance. Recent news out of Brunswick County, North Carolina highlights the Read More…

» 2017 New Market Tax Credit Allocations in North Carolina

The U.S. Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund was created to help CDFIs promote economic revitalization throughout the United States. CDFIs are designed to expand access to capital in underserved communities and the CDFI Fund provides financial assistance and support to these organizations. A part of the CDFI Fund’s supportive programming mechanism is the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program.

The NMTC Program was established as part of the Community Renewal Tax Relief Act of 2000. The goal of the program is to assist disinvested communities in reinvigorating their local economies by providing tax incentives to investors in these areas. Credits are allocated to designated Community Development Entities (CDEs) to invest in projects. The private capital attracted through the NMTC Program is used primarily to finance businesses in these communities that include manufacturing facilities, food, retail, housing, health, technology, and education. Communities benefit from the jobs associated with these businesses and the provision of access to better commercial and community services (for more information, a primer on NMTCs can be found here). Between 2003 and 2015, the NMTC has financed over 5,000 projects. Read More…

» Trying to Capture a Community’s CED: New Dashboard of Growth, Prosperity and Inclusion Data

The new Metro Monitor 2018 reportby the Metropolitan Policy Programat the Brooking Institution includes an enticing tool for CED professionals: interactive graphs tracking the growth, prosperity, and inclusion of 100 different metro areas over the last 17 years.  For North Carolina, the areas include Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, Greensboro-High Point, Raleigh and Winston-Salem, which might seem of limited interest to CED professionals elsewhere in the state.  But don’t be fooled – the dashboards demonstrate a truly impressive way to spark conversations using data. The clear layout and intriguing results offers a rich opportunity for any CED professionals wanting to demonstrate the power of this kind of data, regardless of city or county.

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» Utilizing Program Income and Revolving Funds to Stretch CDBGs

One of the tools that local governments utilize in community revitalization efforts are Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs). This U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program provides grants to local governments to fund projects such as affordable housing, infrastructure improvements, and natural disaster recovery. In the 2017 fiscal year, the state of North Carolina received approximately $44 million for the state’s CDBG program; most of the funding went towards economic development and infrastructure needs in the state. In addition, 30 North Carolina municipalities received CDBG funds that totaled to approximately $27 million. However, proposed legislative actions may result in severe reductions of CDBG funds for low and moderate income communities. While the future of the CDBG program is in question, state and municipal agencies have used program income and revolving funds to stretch out previously allocated CDBG funds to finance community projects.

Program income is defined as the ‘gross income received by grantee and sub-recipients directly generated from the use of CDBG funds’. This can come from a variety of sources, ranging from the proceeds of leased or sold property purchased from CDBG funds to principal and interest payments on loans from CDBG funds. Any program income that is accrued from CDBG activities can be placed in a separate revolving fund. These revolving funds are established to carry out specific activities which generate payments to the general fund to carry out a specific activity, such as affordable housing development or disaster recovery. The CED blog has covered the basics of revolving loan funds in the past; check out this post on loan funds for affordable housingand this post on loan funds for small businesses. Read More…

» To Certify or Not To Certify, That is the Question: The Certified Local Government Program in North Carolina

Per the National Park Service (NPS), historic preservation has proven economic, environmental and social benefits, including higher property values, less population decline, more walkability, and greater sense of community. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) was signed into law by the U.S. Congress on October 15, 1966 to preserve historical and archaeological sites. It was, and still is, considered the most far-reaching preservation legislation ever ratified in the U.S. Since its ratification, the national historic preservation program has functioned as a decentralized partnership between the federal government and the states. Under its current iteration, the NHPA established a federal-level program to identify, evaluate, and protect historic properties, and delegated primary responsibility for implementation to state government. This working relationship was later expanded to include local government participation via a 1980 NHPA amendment. This amendment required each state to establish a process, known as the Certified Local Government (CLG) Program, by which local governments may be certified to participate in the national framework of the federal and state historic preservation programs. Read More…

» What @sog_ced is reading online: March 2018

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:

View story maps created by Esri to show how incomes are distributed within US cities – and zoom in to explore rural North Carolina, too. http://bit.ly/2oPaYM9

Fascinating UNC Charlotte Urban Institute report maps evictions in Mecklenburg County NC. http://bit.ly/2G7sK7S 

Very interesting data available for North Carolina metro areas via Brookings Institute. Economic inclusion may provide the key to true economic success. https://brook.gs/2E5VBDB

County-by-county data on job gains or losses from Jan 2017 to Jan 2018. Mixed bag for rural counties in North Carolina. http://bit.ly/2ur9rkC Read More…

» Environmental Infrastructure Programs under the Omnibus Budget Bill

On Friday, March 23, President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion FY 2018 spending bill that will fund the federal government through September 30.   This budget funds several environmental infrastructure programs that help communities pay for crucial services such as water and wastewater.  How did those infrastructure programs fare in the budget?

In general, the budget funded most environmental infrastructure finance programs at the same level as in FY 2017 or higher.  In some cases, the programs had additional money added during the conference committee meetings between the House and Senate to finalize the bill. Read More…

» The Benefits of Daylighting Streams

There may be good reasons to culvert or pipe a stream. Culverts allow water to flow to the other sides of roads, buildings, or other obstructions. However, developers and city planners in the past have often installed culverts where they were not necessary, resulting in sub-optimal environmental and economic outcomes. For this reason, modern city planners and local governments have become interested in strategically removing underground pipes and restoring streams to a more natural state – a process known as daylighting.

Before and after the daylighting of a 1,200 linear foot section of piped stream located on the property of the University of Virginia

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» Maintenance of vacant or neglected commercial buildings: options for NC local governments

The downtown buildings in the Town of Old Well have “good bones.” The structures lining the four downtown blocks of Main Street are solid brick and reflect their historic character, harkening back to a time when downtown was thriving with retail on the ground floor and residential units on the second floor. The very center of downtown is in fairly good shape, and some committed merchants have established a pocket of commercial activity there. However, even that central area is pocked with a handful of underutilized and neglected retail buildings. The downtown blocks immediately outside of the center, where vacant buildings outnumber those with active uses, are not inviting to pedestrians.

Residents and downtown merchants have complained to Town officials about the privately-owned vacant buildings within and surrounding the center of downtown. Some of the vacant structures are in fair condition but are used for storage; peering through the wide display windows reveals piles of boxes, dusty floors, litter, or worse. Some display windows are papered over to conceal the interior. While a handful of vacant buildings appear to be in good condition, others look visibly worse than those with active uses. Can Town officials enact any regulations to govern the appearance and general maintenance of these commercial buildings? Yes, they can. Read More…

» The Opportunity Zones Program

In December 2017, Congress established a new community development program called “Opportunity Zones”. This blog post will provide an overview of the program, subject to change as it evolves. The Opportunity Zones program is based on the bipartisan “Investing in Opportunity Act” but was enacted as a part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the 2017 tax reform efforts. The concept was initially created in 2015 by the Economic Innovation Group, in order to address persistent poverty and unequal recovery.

The program offers an incentive to inspire long-term private investment in low-income urban and rural communities across the country by allowing investors to utilize their unrealized capital gains by reinvesting into Opportunity Funds. Opportunity Funds will be dedicated to investing in the identified Opportunity Zones; these zones will be designated by the Governors of every U.S state and territory. Governors have 120 days from December 22, 2017 (March 21, 2018) to identify up to 25% of the total number of low income census tracts in their respective state or territory as opportunity zones. (North Carolina has requested an extension.) For the most part, the Opportunity Zone census tracts align with the qualified census tracts defined in the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) program. Nevertheless, the governors must still identify low-income communities to receive Opportunity Zone Investments since up to 25% of census tracts can be designated. Read More…

» Ordinance Enforcement Basics

Community development activities may include public nuisance abatement or code enforcement of one kind or another.  It is therefore helpful for community and economic development professionals to know the steps that local governments may take to enforce their ordinances. This blog post describes the basic enforcement options available to cities and counties. Read More…

» Checking In: The Impact of the Northside Neighborhood Initiative & Land Bank

The Northside Neighborhood Initiative (NNI) is a collaborative effort among Northside residents, the Jackson Center, Self-Help, UNC, the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as the area affordable housing agencies. Together, they work towards honoring the history of the Northside neighborhood while maintaining and strengthening its vibrant and diverse community fabric. Northside was highlighted in a previous blog post and how the initiative leveraged local anchor institutions to build their land bank model.  Read More…

» Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves Lives, Money, and Property

In December 2017, the National Institute of Building Sciences published Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report. This report shows that acting to reduce the impacts of floods, hurricane surges, wind, earthquakes, and wildfires is a sound financial investment. Such action, often called mitigation, can result in significant savings of lives, money, and property. The Institute’s objective is to provide information to key decision-makers at federal, state, and local levels so they can develop more resilient communities that can better withstand natural disasters. This post summarizes the report’s findings.

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» What @sog_ced is reading online: February 2018

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.

CED items:                                                         

News report on interest in use of social impact bonds – or “pay for success” – to address homelessness. http://reut.rs/2seaxz1

How Helsinki uses an interactive board game to build local government capacity and enthusiasm for citizen engagement: http://bit.ly/2FeGh9X

The market has delivered an affordable housing solution: manufactured housing. Urban Institute asks why so few units are being made. http://urbn.is/2FyTMl8  Read More…

» Four Federal Water Infrastructure Funding Programs to Watch

The White House’s Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America, which was released early this year, outlines the President’s proposed steps to encourage increased State, local, and private investment in infrastructure. And though you’ve probably heard a lot about it, chances are you haven’t had the time to read and reflect on the 55 page document. So what might the President’s plan mean for infrastructure in your community? While the plan outlines programs for infrastructure of all sectors, this post provides a quick overview of the 4 proposed programs with relevance to water infrastructure.

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» Downtown Revitalization Achieved through Transit Development: Raleigh’s Union Station and the Warehouse District

In October 2017, travel, entertainment, and food website Thrillist ranked Raleigh’s Warehouse District among “12 neighborhoods across America that are about to get crazy popular.” Matt Meltzer wrote, “Next year, the $80 million Union Station opens up, turning the warehouse district into Raleigh’s transportation hub. As it becomes more accessible, look for even more creative spaces and businesses to open up, and more of the city’s transplants to end up here.”

Raleigh’s Warehouse District, with its six blocks of spacious red-brick buildings west of downtown, has historically served as an industrial zone due to its proximity to rail lines. Warehouses, factories, and depots fell into disrepair in the mid-1950s but were later repurposed for artists, designers, and performers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. These spaces soon gave way to a diverse arts, restaurant, nightlife, and entrepreneurial district, now known for its craft beer establishments, Citrix headquarters, HQ Raleigh, Contemporary Art Museum, and public art space. The Warehouse District will soon see another facelift in the form of Raleigh’s Union Station, a multimodal facility which will accommodate inter-city and intra-state rail services, regional commuter rail, local and regional buses, bicycles, and other forms of transportation. Read More…

» On Borrowed Ground: A Ground Lease Primer – Part 1

Imagine that you find the ideal land parcel to develop, but the owner does not want to sell – and desires to retain ownership in any future land appreciation. Or, you find the perfect development site that offers superior investment returns – but the land cost is prohibitively expensive, and makes your project infeasible.

In both scenarios, development is still possible by embracing a ground lease.

A ground lease is a lease for the land between a lessee, such as a developer, tenant, or asset manager, and the owner of the land. The owner, the lessor, provides rights to the lessee to develop his/her land while retaining ownership of the land. Meanwhile, the lessee retains ownership of the structures built upon the land. Both parties agree to the nature of development, land use, and the financial terms of the lease. Read More…

» Revolving Loan Funds for Affordable Housing

http://www.stapletondenver.com/property/northfield-apartments/In previous CED posts, the definition and benefits and disadvantages of a revolving loan fund structure have been described. For review purposes, a revolving loan fund is often defined as a replenishing source of capital or funding from which loans are made. Some of these same posts describe this financing tool is as way to provide a boost for small business owners in rural regions and provide an example of the revolving loan fund run by Kerr-Tar Council of Governments in Vance County. In addition to encouraging and supporting small businesses, revolving loan funds have been used to address and fund other charges facing local governments. One such charge? Affordable Housing. In places like Denver, Colorado, Santa Barbara, California and Arlington County, Virginia, revolving loan funds have served as a huge source of financing for affordable housing development. In North Carolina, local governments have ample authority to expend funds in support of affordable housing for low and moderate income persons; a revolving loan fund may be a useful framework to deploy funding. Read More…

» What @sog_ced is reading online: January 2018

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:

News & Observer update on Rocky Mount Mills, a multimillion dollar historic redevelopment anchored by a craft brewery incubator: http://bit.ly/2qH1LbR

Report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) finds that North Carolina leads all states in industry support of university research (12.1%), generating economic development benefits: http://bit.ly/2Dq0JGE

Bloomberg.com reports on High Point, North Carolina’s taxable bonds to construct a publicly-owned minor league baseball stadium in a bid to attract private investment to revitalize downtown: https://bloom.bg/2BamftD

The North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research evaluates the connection between teacher retention and affordable housing. http://bit.ly/2DxlkcY

Will the North Carolina General Assembly modify the county “Development Tier” designations at the heart of many State funding formulas? http://bit.ly/2Fza8ZY

Other CED items:                                           

HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) delays the fair housing rule until 2020 and will stop reviewing fair housing plans to address racial segregation. HUD says local governments need more time to adjust to the rule: http://reut.rs/2lXmfrs

The New York Times’ The Upshot argues that NIMBY has evolved into “Not In My Neighborhood” as owners and even renters try to control variables that they perceive (rightly or wrongly) affect their property values. http://nyti.ms/2CGwV8g 

Small grocer locates in low-income food deserts throughout the country, including South Carolina, backed by a group of military veterans on a mission to bring affordable full-service grocery stores to underserved low-income areas. http://bit.ly/2ATbdJi  Read More…

» The Importance of “Good” Data

The Development Finance Initiative’s Community Revitalization Fellows represent students from a variety of graduate programs: City and Regional Planning, Business, Public Administration, Information and Library Science, Applied Geography, and Public Health. In addition to working as DFI Fellows, these students have something else in common: their respective graduate programs all require that they take at least one course focused on statistics and data analysis. No exceptions.

Why is this requirement so important? Because decision making in the modern world is based on data. Statistical analysis offers the most objective, informed way to analyze a situation and project the impact of different courses of action.

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» The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program

It is no secret that the struggle to preserve affordable housing and increase economic growth is more challenging than ever. Subsidies are growing smaller and building costs are increasing, making affordable housing more difficult to develop. However, a federal program known as the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Bond Guarantee Program (BGP) is making it possible for CDFIs across the nation to invest in the distressed communities of the United States.

The CDFI Bond Guarantee Program was created by the U.S. Treasury’s CDFI Fund through the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. The program was designed to provide long-term, low-cost capital for community revitalization and economic growth. Through this program, federally certified Qualifed Issuers (CDFIs or approved designees) are eligible to apply to the CDFI Fund for the authorization to issue bonds worth a minimum of $100 million total. These bonds are guaranteed 100% by the U.S. Treasury, up to $1 billion per year. The proceeds from these bonds can be used to extend credit for community development purposes or to refinance existing obligations. Read More…

» Lessons for CED from Europe: Housing, Job, Food, or Fuel Poverty…All Roads Lead to a Social Inclusion Model

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 Read More…

» The Olmstead Decision: Compliance and Action in North Carolina

The 1999 Olmstead v. LC decision, also known as the Olmstead Decision or simply Olmstead, marked one the most important civil rights cases for people with disabilities in the United States. Underpinned by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), the Olmstead Decision brought forth a framework that would oblige states to provide support services to disabled Americans in the community as opposed to in institutional settings. This blog post will provide an overview of Olmstead and its significance in North Carolina, including its history, challenges with compliance, and opportunities to provide integrated transitional housing. Read More…

» Hidden in Plain Sight

Mobile homes are a vital but generally unloved part of North Carolina’s affordable housing stock. They come to public attention in times of extreme weather, particularly high winds and floods. Their condition and location make them especially vulnerable to damage, and often their occupants – the elderly, people with disabilities, and the poor – are least able to cope with the consequences. This blog looks at some of the challenges and opportunities for improving conditions and expanding affordable and safe housing for low-income North Carolinians, particularly in our more rural counties.

 

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» Self-Driving Cars and the Changing Real Estate Market

In a world where technology seems to be advancing exponentially, very few advancements will manage to have the effect on real estate that the evolving transportation industry will. We have already seen how a shift towards walkability and the introduction of ride hailing services, such as Lyft and Uber, have impacted parking requirements, and introduced new programmatic elements to multifamily buildings across the country. But what happens when the cars can drive themselves?

As conversation in the automotive industry orbits around the premises of electric, self-driving cars, we are often fed stories about the amazing ways the technology will change our lives. For example, consider the claims of decreases in vehicular accidents and traffic, increases in vehicle travel speeds (the result of cars “talking” to one another), and gains in productive time. However, very few examine the effects these changes will have on physical real estate. Read More…

» What @sog_ced is reading online: December 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:

In 2018, new “development tier” designations go into effect for North Carolina counties. Forsyth, Lenoir, Perquimans are now in a more distressed tier. Beaufort, Caldwell, Granville all improve their rankings. http://bit.ly/2CZAzql 

NC Center for Public Policy Research post applies the “legacy city” framework to North Carolina cities and provides good analysis. http://bit.ly/2BV4ijX

Other CED items:                                           

The New York Times reports that more density in neighborhoods with primarily single family homes may help provide more housing options but the neighbors don’t always agree. http://nyti.ms/2jlyuh7

Overview of how the U.S. workforce has changed in the past decade since the Great Recession: http://pewrsr.ch/2CqMalJ

Pew Charitable Trusts explains why parking garages may go extinct and how cities and developers are thinking about parking for the future. http://bit.ly/2yt2Y5n 

Suburban office parks, now considered obsolete, are being reimagined by developers. http://nyti.ms/2CGhUzI

Wall Street Journal report on the decline of bank branches and lending in rural areas: http://on.wsj.com/2Chv2id Read More…

» From Gas Station to Gastro Pub: The Potential of Gas Station Redevelopment
Geer St. Garden, Photos by Gary Kuber

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, more than 50,000 gas stations have closed their doors since 1991, which accounts for nearly 25% of the 200,000 gas stations nationwide. With the advent of hybrid cars and a greater penchant for transit, gas stations are on the decline, with busy street corners being replaced by boarded-up stations and vacant pumps. Per the New York Times, many of these abandoned gas stations serve as entryways to business districts; thus, the redevelopment potential of these properties can be attractive to developers. Underutilized gas stations present a unique opportunity for towns and developers alike, particularly if they are at desirable intersections. However, these gas stations also present unique challenges, such as environmental remediation and small lot size, that must be planned for and managed appropriately.

In the past, the CED blog has explored the basics of brownfields programs in North Carolina, how they are administered and implemented, their role in revitalizing communities, and flexible opportunities in North Carolina’s Brownfield’s Program. Brownfield redevelopment is certainly a complicated process, but there are a variety of federal, state, and private funding mechanisms that make these projects more feasible. Previous brownfield projects in North Carolina have centered around historic manufacturing and mill sites, but gas stations could well be the new frontier of downtown redevelopment and revitalization. Read More…

» Local Government Owners of Historic Property Asked to Convey Property by End of 2017: What Public Officials Should Know

Federal tax reform is likely to be enacted before the end of the year. While the final form of the bill has not been determined, it is nearly certain that federal historic preservation tax credits—an important financing mechanism for preservation of historic properties—will be significantly affected. In fact, most observers anticipate that the value of the tax credits will be diminished by tax reform, thereby making historic preservation projects more difficult to finance and complete. For that reason, some real estate developers have asked local government owners of historic properties to convey those properties to new ownership before the end of the 2017 tax year (December 31, 2017) in order to “grandfather” those projects under the older, more favorable rules. This post briefly describes how federal tax reform could affect historic rehabilitation projects and offers some guidance for North Carolina public officials who wish to respond (on a very tight deadline) to a request to transfer historic properties owned by local governments. Read More…

» What Barn Raising Looks Like in Petaluma, California

My last post argued that we should think of the role of local government in communities more in terms of “barn raising” than the more transactional metaphor of a vending machine. This idea was put forth in the great book Community and the Politics of Place by former Missoula, Montana mayor Daniel Kemmis, and later picked up in a popular article written by Frank Benest, former city manager of Palo Alto, California. The crux of the notion is the need for communities to move away from an “us” and “them” relationship between citizens and community organizations on the one hand, and local government on the other, and rather think of local government as a key community institution that is both part of and an extension of the community.

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» How Asheville Revitalized its Downtown: Part II

Asheville, North Carolina is increasingly lauded for its mountain views, restaurants, craft beer, and art scene.  It seems like Asheville is always on a “best” list – most recently, it was touted as the number one best place to visit in the US in 2017 by Lonely Planet. But just what factors explain this downtown renaissance and revitalization Asheville is current experiencing? And who shapes downtown Asheville, and what can we learn about urban governance and downtown revitalization from their success? A previous blog post explored the former question, and this blog post will examine the latter. Read More…

» Our Shared Fate, Part 2

The ongoing debate about the deepening divide between rural and urban America and how this plays out in North Carolina was the topic of a previous blog post, Our Shared Fate. This post discusses some ideas about how the divide can be bridged.

The Triangle J Council of Governments held its regional summit in September 2017 on A Future Together: Connecting Our Urban and Rural Communities. The Triangle region faces challenges of rapid growth and the associated issues of land use, urbanization, and transportation. The framing for the rural-urban discussion is how to ensure that the benefits of increasing prosperity are fairly distributed. Read More…

» What @sog_ced is reading online: November 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:

Raleigh and Charlotte are among the top 5 cities in United States with the fastest-growing incomes, according to a new study: http://bit.ly/2lIDos1

370 acres added to now 1900-acre Greensboro-Randolph County Megasite: http://on.wfmy.com/2AORUBS 

CBS news reports that 10,000 evictions have been filed in Durham, North Carolina since 2016. http://bit.ly/2zU0EJw

Other CED items:

Impact investing post describes distinctions between mission-related investments (MRI) & program-related investments (PRI): http://bit.ly/2zat9jp

Report looks at evictions and rental insecurity – found 1 in 5 renters recently struggled to pay rent. http://bit.ly/2AEJXPC

Carsey School reports that concentrated poverty increased in both rural and urban areas since 2000s, reversal from 1990s. http://bit.ly/2B2i4Ai  Read More…

» Local Government Financial Resilience and Preparation Before a Natural Disaster

This year’s U.S. Atlantic hurricane season is officially the most expensive ever, amounting to $202.6 billion in damages across the Atlantic basin. This record-breaking hurricane season brought some of the most catastrophic storms in recent memory. As Hurricane Katrina reshaped New Orleans in 2005, the destruction induced by Harvey, Irma, and Maria will have lasting consequences for cities and towns in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico. The devastation is likely to be even more long-lasting for many of the hardest hit small islands across the Caribbean. And hurricanes are not the only natural disasters with a hefty price tag; drought, freezing temperatures, severe storms, wildfires, and winter storms cause billions of dollars in damages every year.

As a result of rapid urbanization, climate change, and increases in population and material wealth continue to mount, municipalities are becoming extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, making it necessary for local governments to become more resilient to catastrophes. Natural disaster resiliency often focuses on the built environment and hazard mitigation, but what about weathering the storm from a financial perspective? The following tips can help a local government be financially resilient in the face of a natural disaster: Read More…

» Tick Tock! The Clock Is Now Running for Zoning Enforcement

Jimmy lives on a large lot in a residential area of town.  Back in January 2013, he started a small auto repair shop in the garage behind his house.  You can hardly see the shop from the road because of the house and topography, but Jimmy did post a small sign near his mailbox to direct folks around to “Jimmy’s Auto Repair.” The town’s zoning enforcement officer saw the sign in September 2013.  The zoning ordinance prohibits auto repair in residential districts, so the officer sent a letter to seek compliance. Because of limited staff, many other zoning matters, and the lack of complaints about Jimmy’s operation, the zoning officer has not pursued enforcement any further.  This year a new neighbor moved in next door, saw and heard the auto repair shop, and called the town to complain.  Can the town now enforce the zoning ordinance against Jimmy’s commercial business in this residential area?  The law on this is changing.

A new law sets specific statutes of limitation for land use enforcement litigation.  This blog explores the new limitations and practical considerations for moving forward.  The new law may spark local governments to initiate additional zoning enforcement actions over the next year (in anticipation of the law’s 2018 effective date) and to take a more proactive stance on zoning enforcement generally.

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» Where and How? – The TRF Model for Community Investment

Of the many challenges in community revitalization, determining how to allocate limited funds is often at the top of the list. Should the dollars be split evenly by focusing on the very worst neighborhoods? Or should there be a form of targeting or some sort of custom-tailored solution? If the latter, how is the solution designed?

In 2001, the Reinvestment Fund designed a market value analysis system to help this investment decision making process. The Reinvestment Fund (TRF) is a Philadelphia based community development financial institution that brings together individual investors, banks, government officials, private foundations and faith-based and community organizations to invest in communities.

The market value analysis or MVA is a data-based tool designed by TRF to inform community revitalization and manage neighborhood change. Using spatial and statistical analysis, it identifies and characterizes local conditions throughout a specific locality and creates a typology or index of residential real estate markets. In Philadelphia for example, the MVA categorizes block groups as “regional choice/high value”, “steady”, “transitional”, or “distressed”. Read More…

» Leveraging Revenues from New Development: Critical Infrastructure Assessment Authority in 2017

Critical infrastructure assessments are charges levied against property (usually new development) to reimburse a local government for the costs incurred for certain public infrastructure projects that directly benefit the property. In other states this tool offers an alternative to imposing impact fees on new development (that is often preferred by developers) to compensate the local government for the impact of that new development. In North Carolina, local governments do not have authority under general law to impose impact fees (with the limited exception of system development fees for water and sewer infrastructure). Nonetheless, critical infrastructure assessments are among the many tools that counties and municipalities in this state have to fund public infrastructure projects that benefit private development. Like project development financing authority (aka tax increment financing or TIF), the critical infrastructure assessment authority allows a local government to leverage new growth to pay for public infrastructure improvements that are necessitated by and/or benefit the new growth. And it does so without putting all the financial risk on the developer and without directly affecting the local unit’s general fund. For these reasons, it is a potentially attractive tool to both local government officials and developers. That said, of all the methods available to local governments to fund public capital outlay, a critical infrastructure assessment is among the most complex and most costly. Because of that, it is not be the right tool for every circumstance.

I have blogged about the general contours of a local government’s critical infrastructure assessment authority here, and here. During the past few legislative sessions, the General Assembly has both extended the sunset date (now to July 1, 2020), and made a few (mainly clarifying) amendments to the law. This post reviews the general structure of, and process for levying, these assessments, and for funding and undertaking the underlying project(s), as the law has been amended in recent years. Read More…

» In Vino, Veritable Impact on Tourism
Vines at Linville Falls Winery; Source: High Country Press

As of now, the fires that burned in Northern California’s wine region earlier this month are nearly 100% contained. It has been a dramatic, devastating scene in perhaps the most iconic region for grape-growing and wine-drinking outside of Tuscany or Bordeaux, and the impacts are, and will continue to be, far-reaching. In the wake of the fires lie flattened businesses, torched earth, and the shaken but resurging livelihoods of hundreds of wine growers and vineyard owners. Read More…

» Equity with a Twist: The Low Income Investment Fund’s Social Capital Tool

The Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) dedicated to providing innovative capital solutions that create a bridge between private capital markets and low income neighborhoods. The organization strives to create pathways for investors in projects that have high social value, but may not have access to traditional banking services.

In its latest venture to connect low income communities to private capital, LIIF, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase & Co., created Equity with a Twist (EQT) in February 2016. EQT is a social capital product that provides flexible, low-cost financing to support and incentivize solutions to poverty in low income neighborhoods. It is advertised as providing high social return and modest financial return to its investors, and projects are geared towards mixed-income housing to provide families with affordable homes, K-12 education, and early childhood education. Read More…

» What @sog_ced is reading online: October 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:

Charlotte, like other North Carolina cities, is using city-owned property to develop affordable housing: http://bit.ly/2hMAOja 

WRAL’s analysis of One North Carolina Fund and JDIG business recruitment economic development incentives. http://bit.ly/2yzA05i 

Other CED items:

New working paper provides a comprehensive review of inclusionary housing programs and policies – 1,379 total – across the US aimed at creating more affordable housing: http://bit.ly/2hLoLTa

Do larger cities adapt better than small metros to economic disruption from automation and trade? http://nyti.ms/2g0Zct8 

NY Times article highlights creative adaptive reuse projects in northeast US, including a converted prison: http://nyti.ms/2xyo7LD

Low-income Americans aren’t moving to high-opportunity areas as often as in the past. Are housing costs one reason? http://theatln.tc/2iePC6N

Read More…

» Multiplex in Morganton: The Mimosa Theatre

At the corner of Union and Green in Morganton’s historic downtown sits the Marquee Cinemas Mimosa 7 multiplex movie theater. You would be hard-pressed to find a 7-screen first-run downtown movie theater in this day and age in a North Carolina town with a population of about 16,000. You would also be hard-pressed to find a location more distinctly “Downtown Morganton” than the Mimosa. A historic theater combined with new construction, the Mimosa is right around the corner from the Historic Burke County Courthouse, down the street from the Burke County Register of Deeds and a stone’s throw away from The Morganton Main Street Department, a community and economic development organization that was instrumental to the theater’s survival.

Movie theaters are some of the most unique and iconic historic buildings in city downtowns. North Carolina is home to many such historic movie theaters, and the CED has featured some of these examples and the challenges inherent in redeveloping and reusing historic theaters in past posts (Don Gibson Theater, Redeveloping Historic Downtown Theaters, The Challenges of Movie Theater Redevelopment). The Mimosa Theater in Morganton was no exception with respect to design and history – featuring a vintage Art Deco exterior and interior seating capacity for 600, it initially began operating as a movie theater in the 1940s, with Carmike Cinemas serving as its final operator prior to closing its doors in the late-90s. Read More…

» Catawba County’s Innovative Water Service Partnership Model

It seems like almost everyone, including regulators and utility organizations, recognize the benefits and need for expanded partnerships and collaboration in the water and wastewater sector. Small towns are finding it difficult to meet their growing infrastructure and regulatory needs and are talking with each other and their larger neighbors about different regional service models. Partnerships are not limited to small systems; the cost of new water and wastewater supply is so great, that even large, financially healthy systems are increasingly working together to share costs and partner on  large facilities. Most of these partnerships involve two or more utilities working together, but in at least one North Carolina county, one of the key partners in many of the region’s recent water partnerships is a local government (Catawba County) that is not a direct utility service provider.  For more than 20 years, Catawba County has assisted many of the municipalities in the County install Read More…

» How Asheville Revitalized its Downtown: Part I

Asheville, North Carolina – “New Age Mecca,” “San Francisco of the East,” “Land of the Sky,” “New Freak Capital,” and “America’s Happiest City.” These are just some of the nicknames that Asheville enjoys, due to its more recent prominence in the social, economic, and political domains of North Carolina and larger southeast region. It is difficult to ignore this meteoric rise to fame, particularly for those who enjoy majestic mountain views, craft beer, vegetarian eats, and homegrown arts and crafts. But just what factors explain this downtown renaissance and revitalization Asheville is current experiencing? Who shapes downtown Asheville, and what can we learn about urban governance and downtown revitalization from their success? This blog post will explore the former question, and a subsequent blog post will examine the latter.

Elizabeth Strom and Robert Kerstein explore Asheville’s revitalization in the 2017 edition of Urban Affairs Review. In their article, titled “The Homegrown Downtown: Redevelopment in Asheville, North Carolina,” Strom and Kerstein attempt to pinpoint just what exactly went right in the “successful transformation of Asheville’s downtown from desolate to vibrant.” With emphasis placed on the post-1980 period, this article illustrates how successful redevelopment coalitions have shaped the downtown, and how these “social-entrepreneurial” coalitions could be replicated in downtowns similarly rooted in an architecturally-significant historic built environment and an economy reliant on independent business. Strom and Kerstein argue that Asheville’s “social-entrepreneurial” activity in the business, creative, and philanthropic sectors offers insights into the larger concepts of downtown revitalization, urban governance, and city development policy. Read More…

» Electric Buses Debut in North Carolina

The days of public buses pulling away from a bus stop with the loud growl of a diesel engine and a cloud of black smoke could become a thing of the past.  The company Proterra makes fully electric buses, and North Carolina will soon see four of these buses hit their streets.  The governing board for Raleigh Durham International Airport has agreed to purchase four of Proterra’s Catalyst E2 fully-electric buses, four charging stations, and the required infrastructure and training at a cost of $3.4 million.  The cost was offset by a $1.6 million grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).   Read More…

» Economic Development Organizations Receive Top Honors for 2017

A perpetual interest in the field of economic development is identifying “best practices” and benchmarking the “state-of-the art” with respect to promising tools, strategies, and programs.  One source for this type of information is the Excellence in Economic Development Awards competition administered by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) over the past several years.  The IEDC awards competition recognizes success, innovation, creativity, quality, and community impact in the work of economic development organizations.

Organizations submit entries to be considered for awards in various categories including promotional materials, internet and new media, programs, and partnerships.  Judges apply specific criteria in reviewing the submissions to select gold, silver, and bronze level winners for each category based on the size of the population served.

IEDC announced the 2017 award recipients in September at its Annual Conference in Toronto.  Two North Carolina organizations were recognized this year.  Electricities of North Carolina, Inc. is the silver winner in the General Purpose Print Promotion category (population greater than 500,000) for its NC Public Power Calendar.  The calendar uses journalistic photos and short stories to highlight distinctive businesses, destinations, and community leaders in the Electricities service area.  The Town of Fuquay-Varina is the silver winner in the Video/Multimedia Promotion category (population 25,000-200,000) for its State of the Town Address video, which communicates the town’s economic development and community achievements.

The Program Awards category includes multi-year programming, business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship, neighborhood development, human capital, sustainable and green development, and real estate redevelopment/reuse.  The numerous award winners in this category constitute a database that is worth mining for examples of best practice and promising strategy.  A few of the notable 2017 winners include:

  • Charleston (SC) Regional Development Alliance – Opportunity Next: Building a Globally Competitive Economy for Charleston
  • York County, VA – Home-Based Business Assistance Program
  • Howard County (MD) Economic Development Authority – Ellicott City Flash Flood Response and Recovery
  • City of Norfolk, VA – Norfolk-Works Waterside Week Hiring Event
  • Prince William County, VA – Prince William Science Accelerator
  • Paducah (KY) Economic Development – Historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant Redevelopment
  • Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership – Farmers Exchange Building Redevelopment
» Courting Locally: The Economic Gardening Strategy

It is a story as old as time. The process can be exhausting in the pursuit of “the one”, and the search can go long and far. While that old story typically refers to love, the same can be said for the relationship between places and economic development. Cities across the country have continually pursued big businesses meant to stimulate their economies and increase wealth. This courtship of large companies typically means offering incentives such as tax breaks and subsidies, which can present challenges in ensuring cities are getting fair deals. But what if “the one” was right before their eyes? What if communities could grow their economies from within? Read More…

» What @sog_ced is reading online: September 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:

North Carolina Department of Commerce report: “Mecklenburg and Wake Counties accounted for 41% of the state’s net 2016 population increase” http://bit.ly/2f2gB4B

UNC School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative helps Durham County weigh options and engage community stakeholders: http://bit.ly/2ft8JZV

Other CED items:

Bloomberg News offers detailed look at state historic preservation. tax credits and recommendations from report on Missouri’s tax credit program: http://bit.ly/2yIn2Cj

Four data-driven approaches to address vacant and abandoned properties: http://bit.ly/2gwxo3u

Case studies in how communities can unlock the value of federal property: http://bit.ly/2f8QmcD

Summary of recent academic articles on the impact of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) on lending to low and medium income groups: http://bit.ly/2fhk5DJ

In op-ed, former Delaware governor proposes 100% tax on corporate revenue from government incentives, hopes to end “giveaways”: http://nyti.ms/2yHnMr8 Read More…

» What’s the deal with modular construction?
AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown

In May of this year, Marriott International announced that it would ramp up the use of modular construction in its hotels. Marriott said they anticipated signing on at least 50 hotels in 2017 alone that would be primarily modular, citing that this type of construction would enable them to generate returns for their partners faster, decrease waste, and employ a steady and reliable skilled labor force. In fact, one of these 50 properties is in Chapel Hill; the new AC Hotel Chapel Hill Downtown. The four-story above-ground structure (with two levels of parking beneath) will boast 123 guest rooms, all built using modular construction. Read More…