UNC Partnerships with Tier I counties (part II)

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Will Lambe is the Director of the Community & Economic Development Program and the Community-Campus Partnership.

As described in Part I of this series, UNC Chapel Hill faculty, staff and students are engaged in creative partnerships with Tier I counties across North Carolina. This post is the second in a series that will highlight community and economic development partnerships between Tier I counties and UNC. The purpose of this series is to provide examples of projects, for potential or future community partners, in which UNC resources have been available to assist Tier I counties.

The Kenan Institute’s (KI) Eastern North Carolina Initiative works with community partners in eastern NC on a variety of economic development projects.

Edgecombe (Tier I) and Nash (Tier II) Counties:

The Twin County Business Growth Initiative is a partnership between KI and Carolina’s Gateway Partnership. Over the last year, KI worked with local partners to create a business retention and expansion (BR&E) program. KI helped the community purchase a BR&E software program to survey and track the needs of local businesses and industries. Business school students from Kenan-Flagler Business School partnered with local leaders to interview business leaders from the two counties. The program identifies the specific needs of existing businesses and works to connect those needs to resources. For example, one company identified a specific skill gap in its existing workforce. The program helped the company apply for and receive a workforce development grant to upgrade employee skills. Another company has been connected with Edgecombe Community College to retrain workers for a system upgrade. KI is an ongoing technical advisor to the program.

Lenoir County:

In addition, KI has been working in partnership with the City of Kinston on redevelopment of the Martin Luther King (MLK) corridor, also known as Highway 11. KI engaged various student teams to assist the City with development planning, community outreach, and financial analysis. Following the team’s initial planning, the City received $1 million in funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation to improve public infrastructure along the corridor. KI continues to work with the city to attract development partners onto priority sites along the MLK corridor.

Thomas Stith, Program Director for the Eastern North Carolina Initiative, coordinates the Kenan Institute’s efforts in Tier I counties.

Will Lambe authored the NC Rural Center report, Small Towns, Big Ideas, and he served as Director of the Community and Economic Development Program at the School of Government from 2009 to 2014.

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