The Community and Economic Development program at the School of Government provides public officials with training, research, and assistance that support local efforts to create jobs and wealth, expand the tax base, and maintain vibrant communities. We deploy the resources of the University to support the development goals of communities in North Carolina.

The Story of Job Growth in North Carolina: Feast or Famine?

It is often hard to make sense of monthly statistics on job growth. Year-over-year changes are dramatically impacted by COVID-19.  With COVID cases rising again, the impact of COVID on tracking job growth or loss, industries affected, and predictions for the future is likely to continue. Fortunately, a newly updated resource allows us to understand our current circumstances in the context of a 40-year trend. The main take-away is that while the causes are different (pandemic-induced downturn versus the sub-prime mortgage-induced economic downturn), the pattern is the same. North Carolina’s experience with job growth or loss is feast or famine. Read More…

Creating a Public Mural Program – Lessons from Kinston, NC (Part 2)

Okra” by Seraphim Smith, a local artist in the program

This three-part blog post series chronicles the process, joys, and challenges of implementing a large-scale creative placemaking initiative, in this case the Downtown Kinston Mural Program in eastern North Carolina. The Part 1 post of this series reviewed the program design, citizen committee, and wall selection for the program. This blog post, Part 2, will review advertising the artist opportunity, selecting artists, pairing artists with walls, and developing the artist’s concepts for the program.

Advertising the Opportunity to Artists

The City of Kinston used a two-step process to select artists—a general Call for Artists through a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), and a Second Round Application focused on budget and program requirements. Kinston chose an (RFQ) to allow artists to present their prior work and community engagement practices instead of a potential mural concept. The artist consultant engaged by the City advised staff that concept development is a significant part of the artist’s work and should vary highly after the artist gets to know the community and the wall. An RFQ allowed the Mural Committee, the citizen-led group that oversaw the Downtown Mural program, to react to the artist and their existing portfolio, compensate the artist for their concept development during the program, and avoid boiler-plate concept submissions by artists who are (quite reasonably) unwilling to create a unique concept for a program without being paid. Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: June 2021

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:

NY Times report on adaptive reuse of historic mills in NC, including Rocky Mount, High Point and Winston-Salem.

City of Durham follows Asheville’s lead and commits to public infrastructure investments in historically Black neighborhoods as a form of reparations.

“Revitalizing NC Towns” story features the work of UNC DFI on public-private partnerships to reuse the historic Broughton Hospital campus in Morganton.

Other CED items:

Community colleges engaging affordable housing activities to address housing insecurity among their students

Lack of funds for security deposits can lock renters into their current housing. Article explores for-profit and nonprofit approaches to this issue and pros and cons of each.

DFI Online

Dare County asks UNC DFI to focus on two sites for affordable housing development; tax credit financing mechanisms explained.

Read More…

Celebrate the Big and the Small

In courses like the School’s Community Development Academy, community development professionals are taught to celebrate small victories. Perhaps the victory involves a strong volunteer turnout for a neighborhood cleanup day; or perhaps an owner agreed to remove an unsightly vehicle from view of the neighbors; or perhaps a group of stakeholders agreed to meet and find common ground on development goals for the community. As it turns out, research shows that celebrating small wins is important.

When working with teams and groups, either internal to your organization or cross-functional teams it can be hard to sustain momentum and excitement for the project and goal- made more challenging when goals are long-term.  By celebrating small wins, teams become more likely to Read More…

American Rescue Plan: Local Government Funding for Affordable Housing Development

The federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) established Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“FRF”), which will be distributed to state and local governments for the purpose of responding “to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality” (Part 8, Subtitle M of ARP). The amounts to be distributed are substantial. The U.S. Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) lists the county-by-county distributions here and the allocations for “entitlement” cities here.

The Interim Final Rule, promulgated by Treasury and codified at Part 35 of Subtitle A of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, recognizes “a broad range of eligible uses” for FRF, and offers local governments “flexibility to determine how best to use payments.” Although the rule is still “interim” and therefore leaves some details to be finalized, public officials are beginning to plan how they will utilize the infusion of funding. This post is designed to inform those initial planning discussions at the local level, and it will be updated when/if the “interim final rule” is revised.

UPDATE: In an “explainer” on the Interim Final Rule, Treasury confirmed that “Funds used in a manner consistent with the Interim Final Rule while the Interim Final Rule is effective will not be subject to recoupment.”

There are many possible uses of FRF, ranging from premium pay for essential workers, to water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. One particular category of potential FRF-eligible activities has generated a good deal of interest and questions from public officials: 31 C.F.R. 35.6(b)(12)(ii)(B) authorizes FRF to be used for “[d]evelopment of affordable housing to increase supply of affordable and high-quality living units.” Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: May 2021

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:

NC Department of Commerce launches “NC Main to Main Trail” to encourage tourists to visit the state’s beautiful Main Streets by region

Other CED items:

Working paper examines Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac progress under their “Duty to Serve” program, which requires them to expand access to affordable housing finance for low- and moderate-income households.

Urban Institute analysis suggests that homeownership is more affordable than rental over the long term for low income persons

DFI Online

UNC DFI provides an update to Orangeburg, SC City Council on community feedback related to the redevelopment of the historic Railroad Corner Read More…

Growing Together: Utilizing Live-Work to Enhance Our Communities

Prior to suburban flight, living in urban centers was commonplace, and business owners often lived in their commercial properties. Commonly referred to as live-work units, architect Thomas Dolan defines live-work as “a building, unit, or compound in which residential and work activities are pursued on that same property by most, if not all of the same people.” Over the course of the 21st century, interest in urban living has renewed, and technology has enhanced the level of work flexibility and telecommuting. While the number of people working from home at least occasionally has been growing, recent impacts by the COVID-19 pandemic are accelerating the telecommuting trend. Many people are increasingly working from home to conduct work on behalf of companies while others are employing the live-work model to manage their own businesses across a variety of services including software development, art, and hospitality. Read More…

Creating a Public Mural Program – Lessons from Kinston, NC (Part 1)

In the Fall of 2019, the City of Kinston established the Downtown Kinston Mural Program, a public art initiative that uses creative placemaking to build Kinston’s reputation as a destination for unique, thought-provoking art and community-oriented artists. This three-part blog post series outlines Kinston’s experience and important takeaways for future municipalities interested in starting their own mural programs, covering topics such as citizen involvement, artist recruitment and selection, mural installation logistics, public engagement during a pandemic, unexpected costs, and more.

Funding & Leadership

"One Voice" panel from the "Adkin High School Walkout" mural series. Panel created by Maximillian Mozingo.

The City of Kinston’s primary source of funding was a $100,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), but public art can be funded through other grants (Baltimore, MD), private donations (Sanford, NC), or annual budget allocations (Asheville, NC). However, programs should plan for at least $15,000 per mural and, depending on the maintenance agreement plan, $3,000 worth of maintenance costs per mural over a 10-year period.

Kinston’s Mural Program was led by Planning Director Adam Short and Community Development Planner/Lead for North Carolina Fellow Sarah Arney, Marcia Perritt with the Development Finance Initiative (DFI), and a citizen Selection Committee. The program required at least two staff each working 10 hours a week working on grant management, program design, Committee facilitation, Council updates, research, logistics, community engagement, and budget management. Catherine Hart, an artist consultant who runs the Jersey City Mural Arts Youth Program, was an enormous asset during the program design process; her experience on both sides of art programs helped the City anticipate common needs and concerns from artists. The local Kinston Community Council for the Arts also advised. Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: April 2021

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:

Carolina Demography offers initial thoughts on what the 2020 Census means for North Carolina.

Apple to make transformational investment in Research Triangle, NC; record incentives:

Landscape Architecture Magazine features Morganton’s Broughton Hospital Campus and DFI

Measuring NC’s affordable housing crisis Read More…

Revisiting the Case for Affordable Housing Four Years Later: Reminder of Value of BLS Salary Data When Understanding Affordable Housing

In 2017, a CED blog post asked if wages in different parts of the state were sufficient to sustain a person who wants to live and work there. For example, in 2016, nursing assistants in Goldsboro earned $11.83 an hour (median wage) for a mean annual salary of $24,610. Things have improved in terms of wages, even accounting for modest inflation. As of May 2020, the median wage was $14.83 with a mean annual salary of $30,850, a 25% increase in nominal terms. This would be excellent news, as long as other expenses didn’t grow faster – like housing.


The challenge of providing affordable housing is front and center

Read More…