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Jobs

There are no positions available at this time.

Staff

Patrick Woodie, President

Tracie McIver, Executive Assistant

 

Programs

Barry Ryan, Senior Director

 

Entrepreneurship & Microenterprise

Shannon O'Shea, Senior Program Manager

JaLisha Richmond, Program Associate

Patty Skarlinsky, Latino Outreach AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Leadership & Outreach

Misty Herget, Director of Leadership

Chilton Rogers, Director of Community Engagement

Olivia Dobranowski, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Food & Community Development

Jamilla Hawkins, Senior Program Manager

 

Small Business Credit Initiative

Tom Wall, Director

  Damion Smokes, Commercial Loan Process Manager

 

Research & Policy

Jason Gray, Senior Fellow

John Coggin, Director of Advocacy

Alfred Garshong, Research/GIS Associate

 

Finance & Administration

Mary Kay Clifford, Director

Betty Bynum, Administrative Assistant/Technology Manager

Jennifer McEachran, Senior Accountant

Patty Eller, Office Manager

Nora Mayo, Receptionist

 

Development

Liz McFarlane, Director of Philanthropy

 

Public Affairs 

Todd Brantley, Senior Director of Public Affairs

Kayla Dobyns, Communications Associate

 

N.C. Rural Economic Development Center
4021 Carya Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610 

 

 

Rural North Carolina

The Rural Center works in 85 counties that make up rural North Carolina. These counties had a population density of no more than 250 people per square mile at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census. This definition of rural has been incorporated in legislation adopted by the N.C. General Assembly.

 

View map of rural counties.

The Rural Center's Governing Board

The Rural Center is governed by a board of directors representing state and local leadership in business, agriculture, education, government and numerous other areas of public service.

 

Board of Directors

 

Ted Alexander, Shelby 

Ted Alexander directs the western regional office of Preservation North Carolina. He is chairman of New Wilderness Adventures ministry, a member of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Partnership Board and a member of the board of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission.

 

Andy Anderson, Whiteville 

Vice chair

Andy Anderson is president and co-owner of Community Innovations, a health-care company with more than 1,700 employees. He also is a motivational speaker on the state and national level. Currently mayor pro tem of Whiteville, he was the first African American elected to the city council of his hometown. In 2000, he traveled to Europe on an American Marshall Memorial Fellowship to discuss social and economic issues with NATO and European Union officials.

 

Rex L. Baker, King 

Rex L. Baker is a small business owner in the Stokes County town of King. He retired from a career as an R.J. Reynolds executive before taking the helm of King Foods in 1989. He served five terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. During that time, he co-chaired the House Appropriations Committee and sat on the Agriculture Committee.

 

Leslie Boney, Chapel Hill 

Leslie Boney serves as the UNC system's vice president for international, community and economic engagement. Before joining UNC, he was a senior associate with MDC Inc., a nonprofit research firm specializing in economic and workforce development. He serves on the Southern Growth Policies Board, the N.C. Economic Development Board and the N.C. Board of Science and Technology.

 

Charles Brown, Albemarle

Charles Brown is an attorney who lends his expertise to a number of boards, including the N.C. Board of Construction and Development and the Stanly County Economic Development Commission.

 

Brian Crutchfield, Boone

Brian Crutchfield is the former director of sustainable development for the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. During a 30-year career in economic development, Crutchfield helped leverage more than $250 million in corporate investments and created thousands of jobs in rural communities. He sits on the board of the N.C. Community Foundation and a number of local economic development organizations.

 

Vance C. Dalton Jr., Statesville

Vance C Dalton, Jr. serves as the President and CEO of Carolina Farm Credit, ACA, a $1.5 billion agricultural lending cooperative based in Statesville. He is involved in both state-wide and community organizations and serves on the board of directors of the NC 4-H Development Fund; NC Foundation for Soil & Water Conservation; NC A&T State University SAES Advisory Board; Catawba Valley Community College Board of Trustees; Catawba County Agricultural Foundation and is on the Catawba County Schools Career & Technical Education Board of Advisors.

 

Lige Daughtridge, Rocky Mount

Secretary

Lige Daughtridge owns Daughtridge Sales Co., Inc., a family-owned business located in Rocky Mount that distributes pressure and temperature instrumentation.  He is also a member of the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, Rocky Mount Academy Board of Trustees, Carolinas Gateway Partnership Board of Directors and the City of Rocky Mount Planning Board.

 

Patricia Ferguson, Colerain 

Patricia Ferguson is a former chair of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. She has received the Brock Award as N.C. County Commissioner of the Year, the National Association of Development Organization’s Innovation Award and the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Award. She currently serves on the board of the N.C. Partnership for Children.

 

Bill Gibson, Sylva

Bill Gibson joined the Rural Center’s Board of Directors as a charter member in 1987. During his long tenure with the center he has served in several leadership roles, including board chair in 2013-14. He also serves on the boards of several other organizations, including the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. Bill was executive director of the Southwestern Commission / Region A Council of Local Governments for nearly four decades, retiring in 2013. He currently raises Tennessee walking horses and black angus cattle on his century farm in Jackson County.

 

Grant Godwin, Raleigh

Chair


Grant Godwin is Chair of the Rural Center Board of Directors. He retired in 2011 from Martin Marietta Materials after a distinguished career in advanced manufacturing. He began his career in North Carolina state government, working for the state budget office and the ports authority.

 

Debbie Hamrick, Raleigh

Debbie Hamrick serves as Director of Specialty Crops for the NC Farm Bureau Federation. As Director, she advocates for North Carolina’s specialty crops producers and works to leverage existing and new resources into North Carolina’s specialty crops agricultural sector, which includes but is not limited to aquaculture/fisheries, apiculture, fruit and vegetables, nursery, greenhouse and sod production, sustainable/organic producers, and viticulture.

 

CeCe Hipps, Waynesville 

        Treasurer

CeCe Hipps is president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. She previously worked with chambers in Asheville and Cary. She serves on the board of the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Folkmoot International Festival and Mountain Bizworks. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina.

 

Nelle Hotchkiss, Raleigh

Nelle Hotchkiss is senior vice president of corporate relations for the N.C. Electric Membership Corporation. She serves as a board member for a number of organizations, including the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the School of Life Sciences for N.C. A&T State University, N.C. Cooperative Council, N.C. Advisory Board for STEM Education and the N.C. Agribusiness Council Boards of Directors.

 

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, Elizabeth City 

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey is president and CEO of River City Community Development Corp. Previously, she was director of the Center for Rural and Coastal Living at Elizabeth City State University. She is a member of the board of the N.C. Affordable Housing Coalition and the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina. She also belongs to the National Congress for Community Economic Development.

 

John Nelms, Raleigh

John Nelms is the Economic Development Manager for Duke Energy, coordinating and managing economic development activity for the legacy Progress Energy territory in Eastern North Carolina. John began his career at Progress Energy in 2005 as a Business Development Executive in Economic Development, covering a 12 county region in SE North Carolina. Prior to joining Progress Energy, his career included stints at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the N.C. Department of Commerce, and Wake County Economic Development.

 

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, Greenville

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta is executive director of the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN). A native of Veracruz, Mexico, he has lived in North Carolina since 1980. He has served on a number of task forces and boards, including the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project and the Pitt County Board of Health.

 

Alan Rice, Yadkinville 

Alan Rice is executive director of RFD Community Development Corp. and director of rural ministry and community development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He also serves as senior minister at Crossfire UMC, a congregation of bikers and working folk. Before entering the ministry, he was an executive in a general contracting firm.

 

Jim Rose, Raleigh

Jim Rose is a regional president at Yadkin Bank. He has more than 25 years of experience in the North Carolina banking industry, including stints with Select Bank, First South Bank, First Union and BB&T.

 

Alice Schenall, Rocky Mount

Alice Schenall is assistant director of the Area L Area Health Education Center. The center provides educational programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve health.

 

Joseph Stanley, Shallotte 

Joseph Stanley is vice president of Joe & Moe’s Auto Services and owner of Joe’s Photography, both in Shallotte. He previously was a branch manager for United Carolina Bank. He serves on the South Brunswick Islands Committee of 100, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Advisory Board and the FOR ENC Board of Directors. He received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine recognition in 2001.

 

Sarah Thompson, Sylva 

Sarah Thompson serves as the Executive Director of the Southwestern Commission in Sylva. She is a graduate of the Rural Center’s REDI program and is actively engaged in leadership development initiatives. She initiated a partnership with the NC Rural Center to bring the Homegrown Leaders training, a regional leadership training, to the Southwestern region of NC in 2016.

 

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, Raleigh 

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside is president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation, which administers more than $118 million in assets. Tolle Whiteside previously served as president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse and was co-chair of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, a 36-member legislative study commission. She received the 2005 U.S. Commissioner’s Award for her work on behalf of North Carolina’s children.

 

Dennis Tracz, Pink Hill 

Dennis Tracz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Carolina Wild, a muscadine juice company based in Pink Hill, NC. Mr. Tracz has set out to help transform the land that tobacco forgot into the land of the muscadine, creating new opportunities in a very economically depressed region of our country. He was the founder of the Virginia Financial Group, Inc. and served as the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center for James Madison University’s College of Business.

 

Clark Twiddy, Duck 

Clark Twiddy currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Twiddy & Company in Duck, NC. Twiddy & Company is a property management and hospitality firm on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with over a billion dollars of real estate under private management and 170 full-time employees.

 

 

Patrick Woodie, Piney Creek

        Rural Center President

Patrick Woodie is president of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. From 2006 to 2013, he served as the center's vice president for Rural Programs. A native of Alleghany County, he is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the Wake Forest University School of Law.

 

 

Emeritus members

Thomas W. Lambeth, Winston-Salem

Valeria Lee, Rocky Mount

Kelly S. King, Winston-Salem

Robert Jordan, Mount Gilead

 

 

 


Institutional Principles

As the center works toward its vision of rural North Carolina, it does so within a framework of values and principles that assure its efforts have firm ethical grounding and foster institutional effectiveness. Following is a statement of the Rural Center’s six operating principles.


Putting People First. At the heart of the Rural Center’s work is a belief that economic development is a human enterprise. The center’s commitment is to the individuals and families who live in North Carolina’s 85 rural counties -- especially those who live in poverty or struggle at the edges of poverty.


A Comprehensive Approach. No single strategy can sustain the rural economy for the long-term. That’s why the center takes a holistic approach to economic development that includes: 1) education and training to advance the rural work force; 2) improvements to the physical infrastructure; 3) development of a financial and technical support network for rural businesses; and 4) strengthening the innovative and adaptive capacity of rural leaders, organizations and institutions.


Commitment to Innovation. The Rural Center constantly searches for economic strategies that are both creative and sound -- recognizing that good ideas come from many sources. One source is the center’s own program of research and demonstration, which it conducts in collaboration with educational institutions, nonprofits, and state and local governments. The center also identifies and promotes innovative strategies developed by other organizations, both within and outside the state.


Impact through Collaboration and Resource Leveraging. Bringing about significant, widespread change in rural North Carolina requires the dedication of many organizations. That’s why the Rural Center builds partnerships with government officials, foundation leaders, business and finance leaders, economic development professionals, educators and researchers, members of the faith community, and nonprofit and grassroots leaders. Through collaborative partnerships, the center can leverage resources and effect change that reaches hundreds of communities and thousands of rural people.


Celebration of Diversity. Rural North Carolina draws its strength from the diversity of its people -- diversity of race, gender and ethnic origin; of all age groups, including youth and retirees; of individual talents, skills and interests; and of cultures rooted in the local landscape. Through its board, staff and advisory committees, the center strives to represent this strength in all decision-making processes. It also advocates the same inclusive approach for other local, state and national bodies.


Accountability, Evaluation, and Replication. Believing it should be accountable to the people it serves, the Rural Center conducts extensive evaluations of its pilot projects and programs to determine their effectiveness and their potential for replication in other communities. As part of its evaluations, the center counts specifics -- businesses started, jobs created, loans made, people trained, houses built. It also looks for signs of change that are less quantifiable, but equally important -- creation of an entrepreneurial spirit where none had existed; establishment of partnerships among economic, racial and political factions; and the emergence of leadership to take communities into the future.



 

Jobs

There are no positions available at this time.

Staff

Patrick Woodie, President

Tracie McIver, Executive Assistant

 

Programs

Barry Ryan, Senior Director

 

Entrepreneurship & Microenterprise

Shannon O'Shea, Senior Program Manager

JaLisha Richmond, Program Associate

Patty Skarlinsky, Latino Outreach AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Leadership & Outreach

Misty Herget, Director of Leadership

Chilton Rogers, Director of Community Engagement

Olivia Dobranowski, AmeriCorps VISTA

 

Food & Community Development

Jamilla Hawkins, Senior Program Manager

 

Small Business Credit Initiative

Tom Wall, Director

  Damion Smokes, Commercial Loan Process Manager

 

Research & Policy

Jason Gray, Senior Fellow

John Coggin, Director of Advocacy

Alfred Garshong, Research/GIS Associate

 

Finance & Administration

Mary Kay Clifford, Director

Betty Bynum, Administrative Assistant/Technology Manager

Jennifer McEachran, Senior Accountant

Patty Eller, Office Manager

Nora Mayo, Receptionist

 

Development

Liz McFarlane, Director of Philanthropy

 

Public Affairs 

Todd Brantley, Senior Director of Public Affairs

Kayla Dobyns, Communications Associate

 

N.C. Rural Economic Development Center
4021 Carya Drive, Raleigh, NC 27610 

 

 

Rural North Carolina

The Rural Center works in 85 counties that make up rural North Carolina. These counties had a population density of no more than 250 people per square mile at the time of the 2000 U.S. Census. This definition of rural has been incorporated in legislation adopted by the N.C. General Assembly.

 

View map of rural counties.

The Rural Center's Governing Board

The Rural Center is governed by a board of directors representing state and local leadership in business, agriculture, education, government and numerous other areas of public service.

 

Board of Directors

 

Ted Alexander, Shelby 

Ted Alexander directs the western regional office of Preservation North Carolina. He is chairman of New Wilderness Adventures ministry, a member of the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency’s Housing Partnership Board and a member of the board of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission.

 

Andy Anderson, Whiteville 

Vice chair

Andy Anderson is president and co-owner of Community Innovations, a health-care company with more than 1,700 employees. He also is a motivational speaker on the state and national level. Currently mayor pro tem of Whiteville, he was the first African American elected to the city council of his hometown. In 2000, he traveled to Europe on an American Marshall Memorial Fellowship to discuss social and economic issues with NATO and European Union officials.

 

Rex L. Baker, King 

Rex L. Baker is a small business owner in the Stokes County town of King. He retired from a career as an R.J. Reynolds executive before taking the helm of King Foods in 1989. He served five terms in the N.C. House of Representatives. During that time, he co-chaired the House Appropriations Committee and sat on the Agriculture Committee.

 

Leslie Boney, Chapel Hill 

Leslie Boney serves as the UNC system's vice president for international, community and economic engagement. Before joining UNC, he was a senior associate with MDC Inc., a nonprofit research firm specializing in economic and workforce development. He serves on the Southern Growth Policies Board, the N.C. Economic Development Board and the N.C. Board of Science and Technology.

 

Charles Brown, Albemarle

Charles Brown is an attorney who lends his expertise to a number of boards, including the N.C. Board of Construction and Development and the Stanly County Economic Development Commission.

 

Brian Crutchfield, Boone

Brian Crutchfield is the former director of sustainable development for the Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp. During a 30-year career in economic development, Crutchfield helped leverage more than $250 million in corporate investments and created thousands of jobs in rural communities. He sits on the board of the N.C. Community Foundation and a number of local economic development organizations.

 

Vance C. Dalton Jr., Statesville

Vance C Dalton, Jr. serves as the President and CEO of Carolina Farm Credit, ACA, a $1.5 billion agricultural lending cooperative based in Statesville. He is involved in both state-wide and community organizations and serves on the board of directors of the NC 4-H Development Fund; NC Foundation for Soil & Water Conservation; NC A&T State University SAES Advisory Board; Catawba Valley Community College Board of Trustees; Catawba County Agricultural Foundation and is on the Catawba County Schools Career & Technical Education Board of Advisors.

 

Lige Daughtridge, Rocky Mount

Secretary

Lige Daughtridge owns Daughtridge Sales Co., Inc., a family-owned business located in Rocky Mount that distributes pressure and temperature instrumentation.  He is also a member of the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, Rocky Mount Academy Board of Trustees, Carolinas Gateway Partnership Board of Directors and the City of Rocky Mount Planning Board.

 

Patricia Ferguson, Colerain 

Patricia Ferguson is a former chair of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. She has received the Brock Award as N.C. County Commissioner of the Year, the National Association of Development Organization’s Innovation Award and the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Award. She currently serves on the board of the N.C. Partnership for Children.

 

Bill Gibson, Sylva

Bill Gibson joined the Rural Center’s Board of Directors as a charter member in 1987. During his long tenure with the center he has served in several leadership roles, including board chair in 2013-14. He also serves on the boards of several other organizations, including the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and the Land Trust for the Little Tennessee. Bill was executive director of the Southwestern Commission / Region A Council of Local Governments for nearly four decades, retiring in 2013. He currently raises Tennessee walking horses and black angus cattle on his century farm in Jackson County.

 

Grant Godwin, Raleigh

Chair


Grant Godwin is Chair of the Rural Center Board of Directors. He retired in 2011 from Martin Marietta Materials after a distinguished career in advanced manufacturing. He began his career in North Carolina state government, working for the state budget office and the ports authority.

 

Debbie Hamrick, Raleigh

Debbie Hamrick serves as Director of Specialty Crops for the NC Farm Bureau Federation. As Director, she advocates for North Carolina’s specialty crops producers and works to leverage existing and new resources into North Carolina’s specialty crops agricultural sector, which includes but is not limited to aquaculture/fisheries, apiculture, fruit and vegetables, nursery, greenhouse and sod production, sustainable/organic producers, and viticulture.

 

CeCe Hipps, Waynesville 

        Treasurer

CeCe Hipps is president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. She previously worked with chambers in Asheville and Cary. She serves on the board of the Haywood Advancement Foundation, Folkmoot International Festival and Mountain Bizworks. She is a graduate of Leadership North Carolina.

 

Nelle Hotchkiss, Raleigh

Nelle Hotchkiss is senior vice president of corporate relations for the N.C. Electric Membership Corporation. She serves as a board member for a number of organizations, including the N.C. Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, the School of Life Sciences for N.C. A&T State University, N.C. Cooperative Council, N.C. Advisory Board for STEM Education and the N.C. Agribusiness Council Boards of Directors.

 

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey, Elizabeth City 

Lenora Jarvis-Mackey is president and CEO of River City Community Development Corp. Previously, she was director of the Center for Rural and Coastal Living at Elizabeth City State University. She is a member of the board of the N.C. Affordable Housing Coalition and the Community Reinvestment Association of North Carolina. She also belongs to the National Congress for Community Economic Development.

 

John Nelms, Raleigh

John Nelms is the Economic Development Manager for Duke Energy, coordinating and managing economic development activity for the legacy Progress Energy territory in Eastern North Carolina. John began his career at Progress Energy in 2005 as a Business Development Executive in Economic Development, covering a 12 county region in SE North Carolina. Prior to joining Progress Energy, his career included stints at the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the N.C. Department of Commerce, and Wake County Economic Development.

 

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, Greenville

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta is executive director of the Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN). A native of Veracruz, Mexico, he has lived in North Carolina since 1980. He has served on a number of task forces and boards, including the East Coast Migrant Head Start Project and the Pitt County Board of Health.

 

Alan Rice, Yadkinville 

Alan Rice is executive director of RFD Community Development Corp. and director of rural ministry and community development for the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He also serves as senior minister at Crossfire UMC, a congregation of bikers and working folk. Before entering the ministry, he was an executive in a general contracting firm.

 

Jim Rose, Raleigh

Jim Rose is a regional president at Yadkin Bank. He has more than 25 years of experience in the North Carolina banking industry, including stints with Select Bank, First South Bank, First Union and BB&T.

 

Alice Schenall, Rocky Mount

Alice Schenall is assistant director of the Area L Area Health Education Center. The center provides educational programs and services that bridge academic institutions and communities to improve health.

 

Joseph Stanley, Shallotte 

Joseph Stanley is vice president of Joe & Moe’s Auto Services and owner of Joe’s Photography, both in Shallotte. He previously was a branch manager for United Carolina Bank. He serves on the South Brunswick Islands Committee of 100, the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Advisory Board and the FOR ENC Board of Directors. He received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine recognition in 2001.

 

Sarah Thompson, Sylva 

Sarah Thompson serves as the Executive Director of the Southwestern Commission in Sylva. She is a graduate of the Rural Center’s REDI program and is actively engaged in leadership development initiatives. She initiated a partnership with the NC Rural Center to bring the Homegrown Leaders training, a regional leadership training, to the Southwestern region of NC in 2016.

 

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, Raleigh 

Jennifer Tolle Whiteside is president and CEO of the North Carolina Community Foundation, which administers more than $118 million in assets. Tolle Whiteside previously served as president and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse and was co-chair of the N.C. Child Fatality Task Force, a 36-member legislative study commission. She received the 2005 U.S. Commissioner’s Award for her work on behalf of North Carolina’s children.

 

Dennis Tracz, Pink Hill 

Dennis Tracz is the CEO and Co-Founder of Carolina Wild, a muscadine juice company based in Pink Hill, NC. Mr. Tracz has set out to help transform the land that tobacco forgot into the land of the muscadine, creating new opportunities in a very economically depressed region of our country. He was the founder of the Virginia Financial Group, Inc. and served as the Director of the Entrepreneurship Center for James Madison University’s College of Business.

 

Clark Twiddy, Duck 

Clark Twiddy currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer at Twiddy & Company in Duck, NC. Twiddy & Company is a property management and hospitality firm on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with over a billion dollars of real estate under private management and 170 full-time employees.

 

 

Patrick Woodie, Piney Creek

        Rural Center President

Patrick Woodie is president of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, Inc. From 2006 to 2013, he served as the center's vice president for Rural Programs. A native of Alleghany County, he is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the Wake Forest University School of Law.

 

 

Emeritus members

Thomas W. Lambeth, Winston-Salem

Valeria Lee, Rocky Mount

Kelly S. King, Winston-Salem

Robert Jordan, Mount Gilead

 

 

 


Institutional Principles

As the center works toward its vision of rural North Carolina, it does so within a framework of values and principles that assure its efforts have firm ethical grounding and foster institutional effectiveness. Following is a statement of the Rural Center’s six operating principles.


Putting People First. At the heart of the Rural Center’s work is a belief that economic development is a human enterprise. The center’s commitment is to the individuals and families who live in North Carolina’s 85 rural counties -- especially those who live in poverty or struggle at the edges of poverty.


A Comprehensive Approach. No single strategy can sustain the rural economy for the long-term. That’s why the center takes a holistic approach to economic development that includes: 1) education and training to advance the rural work force; 2) improvements to the physical infrastructure; 3) development of a financial and technical support network for rural businesses; and 4) strengthening the innovative and adaptive capacity of rural leaders, organizations and institutions.


Commitment to Innovation. The Rural Center constantly searches for economic strategies that are both creative and sound -- recognizing that good ideas come from many sources. One source is the center’s own program of research and demonstration, which it conducts in collaboration with educational institutions, nonprofits, and state and local governments. The center also identifies and promotes innovative strategies developed by other organizations, both within and outside the state.


Impact through Collaboration and Resource Leveraging. Bringing about significant, widespread change in rural North Carolina requires the dedication of many organizations. That’s why the Rural Center builds partnerships with government officials, foundation leaders, business and finance leaders, economic development professionals, educators and researchers, members of the faith community, and nonprofit and grassroots leaders. Through collaborative partnerships, the center can leverage resources and effect change that reaches hundreds of communities and thousands of rural people.


Celebration of Diversity. Rural North Carolina draws its strength from the diversity of its people -- diversity of race, gender and ethnic origin; of all age groups, including youth and retirees; of individual talents, skills and interests; and of cultures rooted in the local landscape. Through its board, staff and advisory committees, the center strives to represent this strength in all decision-making processes. It also advocates the same inclusive approach for other local, state and national bodies.


Accountability, Evaluation, and Replication. Believing it should be accountable to the people it serves, the Rural Center conducts extensive evaluations of its pilot projects and programs to determine their effectiveness and their potential for replication in other communities. As part of its evaluations, the center counts specifics -- businesses started, jobs created, loans made, people trained, houses built. It also looks for signs of change that are less quantifiable, but equally important -- creation of an entrepreneurial spirit where none had existed; establishment of partnerships among economic, racial and political factions; and the emergence of leadership to take communities into the future.