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Hurricane Matthew- Disaster Relief Information
 

The Rural Center is keeping our friends, neighbors, and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers as Hurricane Matthew continues to impact communities across central and eastern North Carolina. We've compiled a few of the many resources available to assist communities, small businesses, and farmers. If you would like to help, please consider making a contribution to the North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund: http://www.nccommunityfoundation.org/new-newsworthy/help-after-matthew-give-to-the-nccf-disaster-relief-fund.


Important Resources:

HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give the State and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in annual formula funding to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster victims. HUD is currently contacting State and local officials to explore streamlining the Department's CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing. For more information vist, https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/. 

 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has the following resources, relief and program adaptations available for those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Information on housing providers and HUD programs – The Department will share information with FEMA and the State on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties.  This includes Public Housing Agencies and Multi-Family owners.  The Department will also connect FEMA and the State to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers. For more information and resources visit, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/info/disasterresources.

 

The North Carolina Bar Association is partnering with the American Bar Association, FEMA and Legal Aid of North Carolina to operate a Disaster Legal Services Hotline for those impacted by Hurricane Matthew.  Low-income survivors facing legal issues may call 1-800-662-7407, and individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with North Carolina lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help.  For more information, visit

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/disaster/nc_3380_press_release.authcheckdam.pdf

 

North Carolina Cooperative Extension is hosting an online disaster portal with a host of information and fact-sheets about food safety, returning home after a flood, and agricultural recovery information for our farmers. For more information, visit ncdisaster.org.

 

NC Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security is offering information on,The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Program that provides temporary weekly monetary assistance to individuals in specified areas whose employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a presidential declared major disaster. For more information or to find out if you are eligible, click here.

 

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is posting storm-related information online at http://www.ncdps.gov/hurricane-matthew-2016. Visit this site for information about road conditions, shelters, food assistance and other storm recovery help.  

 

If you or someone you know has been displaced by Hurricane Matthew, NC Housing Search helps people locate available, affordable rental housing. This free service can be accessed online 24 hours a day and through a toll-free, bilingual call center, Monday - Friday9:00 am - 8:00 pm EDT, at1-877-428-8844 or visit NCHousingSearch.org.

 

As Eastern North Carolina works to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew, the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers is compiling information and resources related to the philanthropic response in the state.  Visit here http://ncgrantmakers/site-ym/com/page/HurricaneMatthew to learn more about their activity and for additional links to resources.

 

Seventeen federal agencies have partnered to form an online portal to help users access and apply for disaster assisted jointly through federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners. For more information,visit: www.disasterassistance.gov.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) North Carolina Farm Service Agency (FSA) has a host of programs for to help farmers and livestock producers recover from heavy rains, flooding and other qualifying events related to Hurricane Matthew.  For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/ or contact your local FSA Office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.

 

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced a disaster declaration for North Carolina counties affected by Hurricane Matthew.  The SBA offers disaster loans for small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.  For more information, visit:https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

 

VOAD, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, organized in 1998, is the forum where volunteer organizations can share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response and recovery—to help disaster survivors and their communities.  Click here https://www.ncvoad.org/cms/opportunities to learn where volunteer help is needed and what organizations are working there.

 

 

Matthew

The Rural Center hosted the SBA Disaster Response team for training on October 13th and 14th before they mobilized to disaster response centers across the state.  

Connect NC bond to strenthen rural N.C.'s water systems, universities and state parks

ehlers 2016 1By Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications
Connect with Matt on Twitter @ncruralcenter
 
On March 15, voters will head to the polls to vote in a number of important primary races of both local and national importance — but it is the Connect NC bond issue that has the potential to create lasting change for the people of rural North Carolina.connect nc
 
If approved, the $2 billion bond issue would improve rural communities' access to clean drinking water. It would construct university research centers to teach our best and brightest. State parks, community colleges and National Guard facilities would receive much-needed renovations and additions.
 
No new taxes will be needed to service the bond debt. That's a pretty impressive feat, and one that rural North Carolinians can be proud of. Particularly since:
 
  • The Rural Center estimates that a minimum of $887 million of the bond will be spent in rural counties.
  • Among the education improvements are a new $110 million science facility at Western Carolina University, $90 million for a biotech building at East Carolina University, $350 million for construction and repair at our community colleges and $75 million for state parks.
  • $309 million of the bond will be dedicated to helping municipal and county governments improve their water and sewer facilities.

The Rural Center Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to support the passage of the NC Connect Bond. With its broad, nonpartisan support, we truly believe this bond will improve rural North Carolina's economic opportunties.

Vote yes to invest!

 

 

 

Save the Date! Statewide advocacy sessions set for April

patrick 2016 2By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick @patrickwoodie
 
The Rural Center will hit the road in April for a series of six meetings across the state, as we unveil our first-ever comprehensive Rural Advocacy Agenda. We believe the timing couldn't be better for advancing the discussion of rural North Carolina's economic development future.
 
Right now, everyone is talking about rural North Carolina:
 
rural counts clip•    “Can state bridge rural-urban divide?” is a recent column by Patrick Gannon, editor of the Insider State Government News Service in Raleigh, and he provides an excellent summation of a recent meeting of the Joint Economic Development and Global Engagement Committee chaired by state Sen. Harry Brown and Rep. Susan Martin. The column appeared in many papers across North Carolina.

Save the date!

April 5 Albemarle
April 6 Edenton
April 13 Waynesville
April 14 Wilksboro
April 20 Oxford
April 21  Kenansville
The meetings will held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Venue and registration info will be available the first week of March.

•    Tom Campbell of NC Spin wrote a recent column in favor of the Connect NC bond package and the water/sewer funding it would provide to rural systems. He quoted the North Carolina section of the American Society of Civil Engineers report that warns that replacement of aging infrastructure is the biggest issue for our state, saying, “the degradation of existing assets … is occurring to a point that is beyond a practical means to resolve them.”

•    At a second meeting of the Joint Economic Development and Global Engagement Committee, members heard recommendations and discussion regarding the replacement of the 20 year old economic tier system with a better methodology for measuring the economic distress of counties. Legislators are exploring ways in which to better focus resources on the state’s most economically distressed counties.

•    North Carolina’s business community is indicating a deep interest in the rural discussion. The N.C. Chamber Foundation has commissioned a rural economic development study that will result in a series of recommendations to the N.C. General Assembly for action in the short session set to begin on April 25th.

We welcome and we seek to engage all of these conversations.

At the Rural Center, we are making final preparations to add our contribution to these discussions through our release of a comprehensive Advocacy Agenda that focuses on what is needed to move rural North Carolina forward. It is the culmination of months of listening, asking questions of experts, and researching the issues. It reflects what we heard directly from you. It is directly relevant to all of the conversations cited above. It is offered in the best North Carolina tradition of partnership and collaboration: a determination to meet our rural future head-on, a commitment to saying that RURAL COUNTS and telling the rural story, and a deep belief that we are ONE state that must move forward together.

Please HOLD THE DATE, and make plans to join us at one of the following Advocacy Briefing Sessions. These sessions will include an optional workshop to help your rural community and region sharpen its advocacy skills.

REDI 2016 will transform a new class of rural leaders

ehlers cropBy Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications
 
 
The Rural Center offers a wide variety of rural economic development programs and initiatives, but nothing we do is as ingrained in our DNA as the Rural Economic Development Institute.

Each year, more than 30 rural leaders from across the state are accepted into the highly competitive program. Applications are now being accepted forredi logo cropped
the 2016 class, which will take place over nine days in March, April and May at the Rural Center in Raleigh.
 
The cirriculum has been retooled this year to help participants better tackle the 21st century challenges of rural economic development, but the overarching purpose of REDI has not changed: to build better rural leaders. The program accepts motivated individuals from all walks of life, including elected officials, government staff, nonprofit leaders, business owners, clergy members and community volunteers.
 
Through an intensive training regimen, REDI addresses rural leadership in two ways: it provides participants with techniques designed to enhance their skills as community leaders, and enhances their knowledge of economic and community development strategies.
 
Piard9Christina Piard, a 2015 REDI graduate who works as the community engagement coordinator for U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, said her leadership training improved her ability to connect with rural constituents. Butterfield's disctrict covers a large portion of northeastern North Carolina.
 
"I am so thankful for my experience in REDI, because I was able to put my leadership training to work immediately. REDI helped me hone in on the real opportunities in Eastern North Carolina and broadened my network of champions within the communities Congressman Butterfield serves."
 
REDI is a great opportunity for participants to learn from highly-skilled field experts, apply their leadership skills and network with leaders from across the state. The class provides a mix of presentations, interactive exercises, applied learning, and networking opportunities.

The Rural Center has limited scholarship assistance available for any applicant, as well as some special scholarship funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for those living in an eastern disaster relief county. The Duke Divinity School Thriving Rural Communities program also has provided scholarship support for Methodist ministers from any rural county. In addition, the Reidsville Area Foundation has set aside funds to help a rural leader from Rockingham County attend REDI. If you're interested in a scholarship, please complete the section at the end of the online application. 
 
For more information and to see the complete application, please click here. Applications are due January 29.
 
Questions? Please contact Misty Herget, the Rural Center's director of leadership, at mherget@ncruralcenter.org or (919) 250-4314.
 
 
 
 

Connect Carteret opens small biz incubator, thanks to Rural Center initiative

misty 2By Misty Herget
Director of Leadership
 
 
Connect Carteret, a group that offers professional development, community engagement and networking opportunities to young adults, recently launched the KickStart Carteret business incubator as part of the New Generation Leaders grant program. KickStart Carteret offers a creative work space with state-of-the-art technology, individual work stations and a full conference room.

Kickstart CarteretLocal community leaders gathered recently for KickStart's grand opening ceremony. (Pictured, from left to right: Misty Herget, First South Bank Market Executive Jeremy Dickinson, N.C. Sen. Norman Sanderson, Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones, Connect Carteret Co-Chair Christina Fulcher and Will Rogers, Connect Carteret member).

"This innovative project will provide a number of long-term economic advantages for local entrepreneurs," Herget said. "Connect Carteret really came together and invested a lot of time and energy to assess the needs of the community, and design a project to meet those challenges."

Connect Carteret is a program of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce, which received the grant. 

The New Generation Leaders program awarded $20,000 grants for a series of community endeavors. Additional New Generation Leaders projects:

Avery County Schools — Sponsored a college scholarship for a student planning to return to Avery County.

Edgecombe County Cooperative Extension — Supported a summer food program and a summer camp program, in addition to remodeling a community basketball court.

Harnett County — Started a community farm stand. Local youth have a community garden and are growing and selling produce to the broader community.

Haywood County — Designed and placed informational, educational and wayfinding signs and marketing materials for the county's greenway system.

Maysville — In progress.

River City Community Development Corporation — Planted five community gardens in neighborhoods with lower access to fresh produce.

Mt. Airy Professionals of Surry County — Revitalized a downtown alleyway to include seating, planters, lights and a stage.

Rural health funding strategies that work

Allen Smart 2By Allen Smart
Guest Contributor
Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

 

A note from the Rural Center: Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has made a remarkable commitment to rural health care and we are great believers in their approach. Here are a few of their takeaways.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has been funding rural community health improvement work across the state of North Carolina since 2011. Approximately 85 percent of the Trust’s Healthkate b horiz Care Division funding is focused on rural North Carolina, which amounts to nearly $20 million in rural grant making annually.

These are a few of our lessons learned to do successful rural health improvement work:

  •     Commit to rural. Don’t just make a few grants in rural areas—make a long-term commitment to rural communities and then stick with it to see what makes a difference. Build trust within the community so they know you plan to work with them for years to come.
  •     Hire staff members who are from rural communities or have strong experience working at organizations that focus on rural areas.
  •     Working closely with government and elected officials is much more important in rural areas than in urban areas. Also, be on the lookout for state and federal opportunities that often bypass rural communities.
  •     Leverage non-health partners to work on health improvement issues to ensure the future vitality of the area. Remind people that health is more than health care—help people in the community, especially people outside of the health care sector, understand why they have a role to play and how it can benefit them long-term.
  •    Work across counties when possible but understand the differences between rural areas as well.
  •     Acknowledge that the people who live in the rural community are the experts. Listen to their ideas, their concerns and their thoughts on solutions.
  •     Don’t simply drop an urban evidence-based practice into a rural community. Do figure out how a successful evidence-based practice can be adapted for successful rural implementation.
  •     Find a group of other rural funders. Because many health funders focus on urban interventions, it’s useful to find a group of rural-focused health funders to share successes and challenges and discuss what you’re learning.

The Trust’s greatest example of long-term health improvement work in rural communities is Healthy Places NC, a $100 million initiative to improve health in 10 to 12 rural North Carolina counties. Read more about the Trust’s Healthy Places NC work and the impact it’s having on rural residents in the recent report “The Beginning of Change.”

Allen Smart is the interim president/vice president of programs, for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Connect NC Bond campaign kicks off in Raleigh

ehlers cropBy Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications

 


A $2 billion bond issue designed to make lasting impacts on rural North Carolina will be on the March 15 primary ballot, and a broad, nonpartisan coalition is working to support its passage.

connect ncConnect NC Bond campaign organizers last week held a kickoff rally at N.C. State University. Hundreds of people created a standing-room only atmosphere inside the James B. Hunt Jr. Library to hear a number of dignitaries voice their support for the bond. Gov. Pat McCrory, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, N.C. Sen. Dan Blue and Jim Rose, a Rural Center board member and Yadkin Bank regional vice president, were among those who addressed the crowd. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is expected to face McCrory in the gubernatorial election this fall, also appeared at the event.

The Rural Center is working diligently to support the bond’s passage; the center estimates that a minimum of $887 million of the bond will be spent in rural counties.

“There is no one who is not impacted by this bond,” said Rose, who also serves as a co-chair of the Connect NC bond committee. 

He emphasized that the bond would fund improvements to the
university system, the community college system and National Guard facilities, while creating a funding pool to pay for much needed
water and sewer projects, particularly in rural counties.

McCrory made the case for building improvements that would be
made on a variety of college campuses, including the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University. He described passage of the bond issue as critical to the future of North Carolina, which has seen its population grow by more than two million people since the last bond issue was passed 15 years ago.

“We have a choice,” he said. “Do we prepare for the future, or do we want the leaders of the future to react to what we didn’t do?”

No tax increase will be required to pay for the bond. The Rural Center estimates that rural Tier 1 counties will receive $417.6 million, or 21 percent of the total. National Guard facilities in two rural counties are slated to benefit as well. In addition, the $85 million plant sciences building intended for N.C. State University will greatly impact rural parts of the state.

Over the next few weeks, the Connect NC Bond campaign will convene a series of informational sessions across the state to inform community leaders about the benefits of the bond. Rural Center staff will participate in a number of these sessions, and the center will host the meeting at 6 p.m. on January 14 in Raleigh. Click here to find a meeting near you.

STEP for Small Business kicks off multi-year project

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

More than 40 rural leaders from eight small towns across North Carolina gathered in October at the Rural Center for the kick-off training of the new STEP for Small Business pilot program. During the two-day workshop, representatives from Lansing (Ashe County), Marion (McDowell), Elkin (Surry), Scotland Neck (Halifax), Elizabethtown (Bladen), Plymouth (Washington), Star (Montgomery) and Siler City (Chatham) talked, brainstormed and experimented with how they would engage their entrepreneurs and small business owners in their communities to help them grow and succeed.

Plymouth step small bizConsultants Don Macke and Deb Markley from the national nonprofit, the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, led the workshop. They have worked in small communities across the country and have developed and deployed a model program to help rural communities grow their entrepreneurs and small business communities. This is the first time this model has been applied in North Carolina, and it was made possible by a matching grant from USDA Rural Development.

During this two-a-half-year program, each community will work with a coach to set up a framework in which to identify and counsel entrepreneurs and small business owners in their communities. Each town will also establish a credit advisory team, which will vet loan applications from small businesses aiming to leverage a portion of the $100,000 loan pool set aside for each community. This loan pool is managed by the Rural Center and is part of its Microenterprise Loan Program.

The STEP for Small Business project is intended to build the community economic development capacity of these eight small towns by providing a comprehensive business development program of community coaching, technical assistance, leadership training, and strategy implementation support. The goal is to support and nurture entrepreneurs and small businesses, who in turn will invest in their communities by starting or expanding businesses, creating new jobs and contributing to the overall quality of life in their small towns. 

Help support rural leadership by making a donation to REDI

zanna 2By Zanna Swann
Director of Development
 

redi 2015 4Make a difference in rural North Carolina by supporting the Rural Economic Development Institute with a gift now.
 
Over the past 26 years, the center has provided leadership training to more than 1,000 rural leaders who are making a difference throughout North Carolina.  
 
Each leadership development class includes several individuals who need scholarship support to attend. Scholarship recipients serve communities that desperately need the leadership skills and economic development training that is deemed so valuable by REDI alumni.

Please consider making a donation to REDI now. Your gift of

$30 could help provide individual class materials.
  $90 could provide hands-on leadership activity sets for a team.
        $500 could fund a trainer for a classroom session.
            $1,200 could support a full REDI scholarship that includes a travel stipend.

Make your gift by December 15 and your support can be put to use in the next REDI class that begins in March 2016.

 

More than 140 people attend The Next STEP workshops

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

“It was a great group of people with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds and I was honored to be included in the presentation.”  — workshop presenter, Liberty

“The workshop in Snow Hill was an outstanding event.” — workshop attendee, Snow Hill

“Many plans are underway in Hayesville as a result of the impetus from that meeting.” — workshop attendee, Canton

“The energy was apparent.” — workshop attendee, Snow Hill

What great feedback! Our latest workshops, The Next STEP: Harnessing Assets Near and Far, gathered rural leaders from across the state to connect them with the resources they need.

As most of you are aware, there have been a lot of changes in the funding and technical assistance landscape across the state in the last few years, and it is often difficult to know what resources still exist and where they exist. The Rural Center organized three regional workshops designed to help local leaders figure out how to locate and access not only financial resources — including philanthropic — but also technical assistance and specialized expertise.  
 
Approximately 140 people gathered in Canton, Liberty and Snow Hill to learn how they can tap their local and regional resources and assets, while realizing that there are a lot of resources in their own communities with which to strengthen their local economies and quality of life. Rural communities don’t have to rely only on Raleigh and Washington, whose resources have been diminishing.  

Panelists representing community foundations, regional health care foundations and corporate philanthropy explained how to build relationships with private funders, and the ways in which communities can approach their respective foundations to help move community and economic development projects. It’s a two-way street: Foundations are looking for good initiatives in which to invest.

Representatives from the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rural Forward N.C. and regional universities explained their funding and technical expertise programs. Each workshop ended with inspiring stories from individual small town leaders who have consistently worked toward revitalizing their communities.

Apply now for REDI 2016 and transform your leadership skills

mistyBy Misty Herget
Director of Leadership Development

 

For more than 25 years, the Rural Center has recognized the need to develop strong local leadership and build community capacity to overcome challenges of limited resources.

REDI 2014The Rural Economic Development Institute historically has taught a comprehensive approach to economic and community development in order to develop an individual’s leadership and team-building skills. While these knowledge and skills are still very relevant, the Institute recognizes the need to evolve in a state where demographics are shifting, economic development strategies are changing and partnerships and collaboration are more important than ever. 

We are very excited to roll out a revitalized REDI in 2016 to meet the needs of today’s rural leaders and communities! Participants will attend nine days of training at the N.C. Rural Center in Raleigh. The training is spread over three months, and includes learning opportunities outside the classroom. The Institute will focus on partnership building and collaboration, effective and inclusive leadership, wealth and asset-building, project implementation, engaging youth and young adults and accessing resources.  

After the completion of REDI, learning and networking continue among peers and other leaders across the state through alumni gatherings and continuing education opportunities. The graduates became a part of an alumni network of over 1,000 across the state who live in or serve rural North Carolina.

REDI 2016 will be held March 23-25, April 27-29, and May 24-26. Complete the online application by January 29 in order to be considered. You don’t want to miss out on this great opportunity to develop new skills, enhance existing ones and network with strong, innovative rural leaders across the state!  

For more information, please write: mherget@ncruralcenter.org.

We're in the midst a busy fall at the Rural Center, headlined by our Rural Advocacy Agenda and REDI

patrickwoodie-1By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

 

We have lots of news to bring you as the center moves through a busy fall schedule. Our Rural Advocacy Agenda is taking shape, applications are being accepted for the 2016 Rural Economic Development Institute, and our community engagement efforts include a workshops to connect communities with funders.

•    Rural Advocacy Agenda — Early in 2016, the Rural Center will roll out our first-ever Rural Advocacy Agenda, and soon after that, we’ll be bringing it to a community near you. Today, Jason Gray, our senior fellow for research and policy, is leading this work, together with staff members and our external partners, as we continue shaping this important document. If you haven’t already done so, here’s your last chance to complete the Rural Advocacy Survey. The survey period ends on November 20.

•    Completely Updated 2016 Rural Economic Development InstituteREDI 26 will take place between March and May of 2016, and we’re taking your applications now! Center staff and REDI faculty are completely reviewing, updating and modernizing the time-tested REDI curriculum to make it even more relevant to today’s rural leaders. See Misty Herget's article in this newsletter for the exciting details. This is the Institute you don’t want to miss!

•    Over 140 people recently attended a series of workshops titled, "The Next STEP: Harnessing Assets Near and Far." A big part of our community engagement program is making sure rural leaders have the latest information regarding the resources available to them from the philanthropic sector and federal and state government. We work to make sure you know where to go for what, and we love to help you put a program with a face, which is exactly what this series of workshops accomplished.  

Finally, a personal note: The center staff and board were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former 6th District Congressman Howard Coble. Over his 30-year career in Congress and as the longest-serving Republican Congressman in the history of the state, the center got to know Congressman Coble well, and he got to know us. He was a strong advocate on the workforce development issues we have cared so deeply about, including extending the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. He was a faithful custodian of the public trust, he instilled in his staff the desire to serve the needs of his constituents, and he was tenacious in representing the interests of the 6th Congressional District. We pay tribute and give thanks for the life of a true public servant.

Workshops on tap to help communities find funding, technical assistance

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

As part of the Small Towns Economic Prosperity program, the Rural Center has organized three regional workshops on a topic that we think will be of prime importance to all of you — how to locate and access financial resources, technical assistance and specialized expertise.

The workshops are called "The Next STEP: Harnessing Assets Near and Far" and will be held in Canton (October 27), Liberty (October 29) and Snow Hill (November 5). Click on each town for an agenda. The programs are similarly organized but offer different panelists.

There have been a lot of changes in the funding and technical assistance landscape across the state the last few years, and it is often difficult to know what resources still exist and where they exist. These workshops address that problem.

To register, please email: crogers@ncruralcenter.org. In the email, please include your name and organization, as well as which meeting you'd like to attend. Register early! Each workshop will be capped at 40 attendees.

The cost is $10 per participant, which covers lunch. Payment will be collected at the door. Cash or checks are accepted; please make checks payable to the N.C. Rural Center.

Questions? Please write crogers@ncruralcenter.org.

See you soon!

After the Assembly: Five next-steps for your community

Freddoso editBy Joe Freddoso
Guest Contributor
Connect with Joe on Twitter @joefreddoso

 

The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly was a great primer for rural North Carolina leaders interested in developing and implementing strategies to improve broadband access in their communities. It was an information-packed day, highlighted by a powerful luncheon keynote delivered by Jonathan Chambers, chief of policy and strategy for the Federal Communications Commission. Watch his Assembly keynote address.

Chambers gave the attendees a call to action. He stressed that attracting better broadband (and specifically, fiber) to rural communities is in the hands of local leadership. The attendees also heard a stark reality: the presence of better digital infrastructure will delineate the communities that experience job growth, better healthcare, higher educational attainment and greater overall prosperity, from those that do not.

Much information was presented and passed. Side conversations between rural leaders and presenters were the norm, and there is no simple way to summarize all of the information. However, there are some fairly straightforward initial steps that communities can take to begin laying the foundation for attracting fiber service to citizens and businesses.

1) Use the resources offered by the N.C. Office of Digital Infrastructure to map the current state of your community's broadband service. Every county in North Carolina has some fiber-based infrastructure because every public school in the state is served by fiber. The Office of Digital Infrastructure maps broadband availability in the state and has conducted several detailed studies of fiber availability.

2) Inventory the needs of your community's largest broadband customers and have them join together for a meeting. Consider inviting:

a)  The superintendent of schools and her/his technology director
b) The head of the local hospital or healthcare clinic
c) The leadership team from your largest private employers
d) Your local librarian
e) Higher education leaders (two-year and four-year)
f) Government IT leaders
g) Your broadband service providers
h) Representatives from wireless providers/cell phone companies who service your area
i) Association heads from large neighborhoods and housing developments
j) Faith leaders
k) Other key leaders

Encourage participants to bring information about how they are receiving broadband service today and have them express their opinion regarding the desire to get better service. Log the current status, expiration date and bandwidth details of their service, and see if you can gain commitments to aggregate the broadband demand of several entities into one procurement. Finally, have these customers project their future demand for bandwidth and assess their confidence in the current service providers’ ability to meet these needs.

3) Contact the North Carolina Office of Digital Infrastructure and the Federal Broadband USA program to gain an understanding of state and federal funding sources for broadband. Explore funding sources from:

Log the funding resources that may be applicable to your region/situation.  Contact these funders to better understand how each resource may be leveraged in your community. 

4) Share the results of the broadband gathering and make the minutes publicly available. Form a task force that meets regularly to talk about aggregating demand and tracking progress. Map the locations of these customers and chart their projected future demand. After the meeting, reach out separately to your current broadband service providers and to local electric and telephone membership cooperatives. Structure a dialog with local broadband service providers after gathering the demand information and grant, loan, reimbursement or subsidy information. Propose to these providers an open and competitive process that will allow them to respond to how they will meet the community’s future demand for bandwidth, preferably with fiber deployments.

5) Don’t settle for the status quo. Assess the responses received from service providers with respect to customer demand and the funding information, and if there are still gaps, expand the search for an entity to meet the community's fiber/broadband needs. The Rural Assembly featured dozens of speakers who highlighted a variety of business models and innovative public-private partnerships for delivering broadband service to rural communities. Pick a few that resonated with you and reach out to those speakers to learn more about how they are addressing the gaps in their communities — the Rural Center is always willing to help facilitate these connections.  

These steps may seem difficult, but remember, the stakes are high. The Rural Center stands ready to help get communities on the path to better connectivity. Expect to receive regular communications about future funding opportunities and important advocacy and policy updates. And finally, be sure to keep the Rural Center posted on your progress so we can continue to track best practices and share learning between communities.

Thanks for a great Assembly! Please let us know how we can improve

patrickwoodie-1By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

 

The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly, “Cultivating Connectivity: Leveraging Broadband to Accelerate Opportunity," is in the history books and was a resounding success. Approximately 400 of you joined us September 28-29 to hear from federal, state and private sector broadband experts. If you missed it, or if you attended and are interested in reviewing what you experienced, click for:

•    A directory of agendas, speaker presentations, videos and other materials that many of you have asked to receive, plus a directory of Rural Assembly attendees;
•    A straight-forward, five-step approach to what any community can do right now to work toward improving their broadband connectivity. This piece is authored by Joe Freddoso, co-founder of Mighty River LLC and former CEO of MCNC,  who assisted the Rural Center in delivering a first-class conference agenda;
•    The powerful keynote address delivered by Jonathan Chambers, chief of the office of strategic planning and policy analysis for the FCC;
•    Constructive feedback from our attendees to assist us in planning the 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly.

If you have ideas about how we could make next year's conference even better, please let us know by dropping a note to: info@ncruralcenter.org.
 
We are already working toward the 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly. Next year's event will be held at the same venue, on September 26-27, 2016. Mark your calendars!

Pre-conference agenda packed with diverse topics

ehlers2By Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications
 
 

This year's Rural Assembly has been expanded to include a series of workshops the day before the main event. Although the Assembly focuses on improving broadband connectivity — which is absolutely critical to rural North Carolina — comprehensive rural development encompasses a range of interconnected strategies.

These workshops were designed to touch on a number of them. Participants may choose from: 

Beyond Broadband: Rural Physical Infrastructure Rural development depends on improved water and sewer, natural gas, building redevelopment and transportation infrastructure. Participants will learn the latest information and discover the resources available. Presenters will include: David Peoples, Rural Development Division, N.C. Department of CommerceMelody Adams, Rural Development Division, N.C. Department of Commerce, John LaPenta, N.C. Office of State Budget and Management, Ron O. Mays Jr., Piedmont Natural Gas.

Leveraging Connectivity: Rural Health, Community and Broadband This session will describe efforts in rural communities to create and upgrade connections to improve and monitor health as well as to support the physical and economic health of communities and schools. Presenters will include: Maggie Sauer, N.C. Foundation for Advanced Health Programs, Chris Collins, Office of Rural Health and Community Care, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Affordable High Performance School Construction for Rural Communities Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County is the nation's first energy-positive, LEED-Platinum Designed, leased public school, and it was delivered through a public-private partnership. Attendees will learn more about this process and the potential impact of net-zero school construction. Presenters will include: Robbie Ferris, Sfl+a Architects, Tony Hunt, Hoke County Board of Commissioners and Lumbee Tribal Administrator, Aaron Thomas, Metcon Construction.

Passing the Torch: Farm and Small Business Succession Planning Learn how local leaders can promote farm and succession planning as a rural youth development strategy. Hear from experts about facilitating succession opportunities and see examples of successful farm and business traditions in rural North Carolina. Presenters will include: Andrew Branan, Branan Law Firm, Scott Daugherty, N.C. Small Businesss Technology Development Center.

New Statewide International Strategy — What it Means for Rural N.C. As developed by UNC's Center for International Understanding and the N.C. Coalition for Global Competitiveness, "Global NC" is a first-in-the-nation effort to develop a strategy around global engagement and competitiveness. This session will provide a format to discuss opportunities in globalization for rural North Carolina. Presenters: Rachel Page and Stephanie Caplan, Center for International Understanding.

See a detailed agenda and register now!

 


 

Rural Resource Fair to highlight funding opportunities

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

Back by popular demand, the Assembly's Rural Resource Fair brings together funders with other organizations that offer technical assistance and resources. Participants often describe the Rural Resource Fair as their favorite part of the Assembly. 

Representatives will include: Golden LEAF Foundation, N.C. Community Foundation, Appalachian Regional Commission, USDA – Rural Development, North Carolina Main Street program, N.C Department of Commerce, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, N.C. Office of Information Technology Services, UNC’s Kenan Institute, Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), and many others.

This year the Rural Resource Fair will be held concurrently with the networking reception at the close of the conference. Enjoy North Carolina food and beverages as you meet the people who can help you help your community. 

Register now for the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly and makes plans to join us for the Rural Resource Fair. Looking forward to seeing you on September 29th!


Assembly scholarships available for Western N.C. participants, CDC staffers

mistyBy Misty Herget
Director of Leadership
 
 

Do you live in a county served by the Appalachian Regional Commission? If so, there is good news! Scholarships are available to cover registration costs to the N.C. Rural Assembly on September 28-29. Click here for a list of ARC counties.

The Assembly begins on September 28 with pre-conference workshops, a reception and dinner. In order to receive a scholarship, ARC award recipients must agree to attend the pre-conference workshop, "Passing the Torch: Farm and Small Business Succession Planning." The workshop will feature experts on facilitating succession opportunities and promoting farm and small business succession planning as a rural youth development strategy.

Employees of Community Development Corporations throughout North Carolina are eligible to apply for a separate set of scholarships. Like the ARC scholarships, these awards cover the $200 registration cost for both days of Assembly programming. CDC scholarship winners are invited to attend the pre-conference workshop of their choice. See a detailed Assembly agenda.

Download this form to apply for either scholarship. Please note that in each case, the scholarship does not cover hotel or travel costs.

Questions? please email me, mherget@ncruralcenter.org or call (919) 250-4314.


The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly is right around the corner

patrickwoodie-1By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie 

 

Register now    See a detailed agenda

The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly is fast approaching, and we hope you have already registered and plan to join us on September 28-29. If you haven’t, please register today for an information-packed agenda that you will not want to miss.

During our recent advocacy roundtable meetings, the fundamental importance of state-of-the-art broadband connectivity was a recurring theme in each of the rural communities we visited. Many of you voiced a similar observation: We need the same commitment to broadband that we had to rural electrification in the 1930s. Simply put, broadband is at the very foundation of being able to transact business, to access a high quality life, and to live a globally connected life. Clearly, though much has been accomplished in the last decade, many rural communities need better and more affordable broadband service.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to how a rural community improves its broadband, but any answer lies in first seeking to better understand the infrastructure. There are a wide range of already successful deployment models, and Assembly attendees will hear about many of them. Success will require a range of public/private partnerships that leverage what assets exist, integrate new and emerging technologies and on a community-by-communtiy basis, determine the right fit. The Rural Assembly pulls it all together for you in one place and at one time. 

Speakers will include: FCC Chief of Policy and Strategy Jonathan Chambers, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, N.C. Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, Jeff Sural from the N.C. Office of Digital Infrastructure, Chris Estes, Chief Information Officer for the State of North Carolina, N.C. Rep. Grier Martin, N.C. Rep. Jason Saine and N.C. Senator Jeff Tarte. From the private sector, we will be joined by Vennesa Harrison of North Carolina AT&T, Rondi Furgason with CenturyLink and Jean Davis with MCNC, among many others.

If you want more than just broadband, be sure to check out our pre-conference “mini-conferences” – five topics of paramount interest and importance to rural leaders. As always, the Assembly offers the state's best networking opportunity for rural leaders, along with our celebratory rural partners dinner and awards ceremony.


Don't miss the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly

By Patrick WoodieRural-Assembly-2015-Logo H copypatrickwoodie-1
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

 

 

Register Now

 

We have greatly enjoyed being on the road in rural North Carolina over these past few weeks. Thanks to the hundreds of you who participated in a regional advocacy roundtable.

Now our full attention turns to the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly, the state's largest annual convening of rural leadership. Join us September 28th and 29th in the Triangle as we proudly present "Cultivating Connectivity: Leveraging Broadband to Accelerate Opportunity." Click here to see a detailed agenda.

Broadband infrastructure was an item of discussion in every regional roundtable, and it's clear we all agree its widespread availability and affordability is a critical short and long-term economic development priority for rural North Carolina. Speakers include FCC Chief of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis Jonathan Chambers, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, N.C. Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, CenturyLink Vice President Rondi Furgason, President of AT&T North Carolina Venessa Harrison, N.C. Chief Information Officer Chris Estes and Jeff Sural, general counsel and policy director for the N.C. Office of Information Technology Services. Joe Freddoso of Mighty River LLC, who formerly served as CEO of MCNC, will serve as the conference emcee.

A broad range of expertise is lined up to join us as speakers, representing all the major federal and state agencies with broadband responsibilities, as well as the private and nonprofit sectors. Topics will include:

Framing the Broadband Discussion
Rural Broadband Deployment Models
Expanding Our Leadership: High Speed Education
Broadband to Community Anchor Institutions
Community Initiatives: Rural Communities meeting their broadband needs
Broadband as a Rural Jobs Engine
Broadband Funding Overview

As always, the conference will include great networking oppportunities, including the Rural Resource Fair and Reception. I look forward to seeing you.

Resources

 
NCRuralCenter Logo Big
 
 
 
Hurricane Matthew- Disaster Relief Information
 

The Rural Center is keeping our friends, neighbors, and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers as Hurricane Matthew continues to impact communities across central and eastern North Carolina. We've compiled a few of the many resources available to assist communities, small businesses, and farmers. If you would like to help, please consider making a contribution to the North Carolina Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund: http://www.nccommunityfoundation.org/new-newsworthy/help-after-matthew-give-to-the-nccf-disaster-relief-fund.


Important Resources:

HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs give the State and communities the flexibility to redirect millions of dollars in annual formula funding to address critical needs, including housing and services for disaster victims. HUD is currently contacting State and local officials to explore streamlining the Department's CDBG and HOME programs in order to expedite the repair and replacement of damaged housing. For more information vist, https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/cdbg-dr/. 

 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has the following resources, relief and program adaptations available for those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Information on housing providers and HUD programs – The Department will share information with FEMA and the State on housing providers that may have available units in the impacted counties.  This includes Public Housing Agencies and Multi-Family owners.  The Department will also connect FEMA and the State to subject matter experts to provide information on HUD programs and providers. For more information and resources visit, http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/info/disasterresources.

 

The North Carolina Bar Association is partnering with the American Bar Association, FEMA and Legal Aid of North Carolina to operate a Disaster Legal Services Hotline for those impacted by Hurricane Matthew.  Low-income survivors facing legal issues may call 1-800-662-7407, and individuals who qualify for assistance will be matched with North Carolina lawyers who have volunteered to provide free, limited legal help.  For more information, visit

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/disaster/nc_3380_press_release.authcheckdam.pdf

 

North Carolina Cooperative Extension is hosting an online disaster portal with a host of information and fact-sheets about food safety, returning home after a flood, and agricultural recovery information for our farmers. For more information, visit ncdisaster.org.

 

NC Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security is offering information on,The Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) Program that provides temporary weekly monetary assistance to individuals in specified areas whose employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a presidential declared major disaster. For more information or to find out if you are eligible, click here.

 

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety is posting storm-related information online at http://www.ncdps.gov/hurricane-matthew-2016. Visit this site for information about road conditions, shelters, food assistance and other storm recovery help.  

 

If you or someone you know has been displaced by Hurricane Matthew, NC Housing Search helps people locate available, affordable rental housing. This free service can be accessed online 24 hours a day and through a toll-free, bilingual call center, Monday - Friday9:00 am - 8:00 pm EDT, at1-877-428-8844 or visit NCHousingSearch.org.

 

As Eastern North Carolina works to recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Matthew, the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers is compiling information and resources related to the philanthropic response in the state.  Visit here http://ncgrantmakers/site-ym/com/page/HurricaneMatthew to learn more about their activity and for additional links to resources.

 

Seventeen federal agencies have partnered to form an online portal to help users access and apply for disaster assisted jointly through federal, tribal, state, local, and private sector partners. For more information,visit: www.disasterassistance.gov.

 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) North Carolina Farm Service Agency (FSA) has a host of programs for to help farmers and livestock producers recover from heavy rains, flooding and other qualifying events related to Hurricane Matthew.  For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/ or contact your local FSA Office by visiting http://offices.usda.gov.

 

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced a disaster declaration for North Carolina counties affected by Hurricane Matthew.  The SBA offers disaster loans for small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.  For more information, visit:https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/.

 

VOAD, Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, organized in 1998, is the forum where volunteer organizations can share knowledge and resources throughout the disaster cycle—preparation, response and recovery—to help disaster survivors and their communities.  Click here https://www.ncvoad.org/cms/opportunities to learn where volunteer help is needed and what organizations are working there.

 

 

Matthew

The Rural Center hosted the SBA Disaster Response team for training on October 13th and 14th before they mobilized to disaster response centers across the state.  

Connect NC bond to strenthen rural N.C.'s water systems, universities and state parks

ehlers 2016 1By Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications
Connect with Matt on Twitter @ncruralcenter
 
On March 15, voters will head to the polls to vote in a number of important primary races of both local and national importance — but it is the Connect NC bond issue that has the potential to create lasting change for the people of rural North Carolina.connect nc
 
If approved, the $2 billion bond issue would improve rural communities' access to clean drinking water. It would construct university research centers to teach our best and brightest. State parks, community colleges and National Guard facilities would receive much-needed renovations and additions.
 
No new taxes will be needed to service the bond debt. That's a pretty impressive feat, and one that rural North Carolinians can be proud of. Particularly since:
 
  • The Rural Center estimates that a minimum of $887 million of the bond will be spent in rural counties.
  • Among the education improvements are a new $110 million science facility at Western Carolina University, $90 million for a biotech building at East Carolina University, $350 million for construction and repair at our community colleges and $75 million for state parks.
  • $309 million of the bond will be dedicated to helping municipal and county governments improve their water and sewer facilities.

The Rural Center Board of Directors recently voted unanimously to support the passage of the NC Connect Bond. With its broad, nonpartisan support, we truly believe this bond will improve rural North Carolina's economic opportunties.

Vote yes to invest!

 

 

 

Save the Date! Statewide advocacy sessions set for April

patrick 2016 2By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick @patrickwoodie
 
The Rural Center will hit the road in April for a series of six meetings across the state, as we unveil our first-ever comprehensive Rural Advocacy Agenda. We believe the timing couldn't be better for advancing the discussion of rural North Carolina's economic development future.
 
Right now, everyone is talking about rural North Carolina:
 
rural counts clip•    “Can state bridge rural-urban divide?” is a recent column by Patrick Gannon, editor of the Insider State Government News Service in Raleigh, and he provides an excellent summation of a recent meeting of the Joint Economic Development and Global Engagement Committee chaired by state Sen. Harry Brown and Rep. Susan Martin. The column appeared in many papers across North Carolina.

Save the date!

April 5 Albemarle
April 6 Edenton
April 13 Waynesville
April 14 Wilksboro
April 20 Oxford
April 21  Kenansville
The meetings will held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Venue and registration info will be available the first week of March.

•    Tom Campbell of NC Spin wrote a recent column in favor of the Connect NC bond package and the water/sewer funding it would provide to rural systems. He quoted the North Carolina section of the American Society of Civil Engineers report that warns that replacement of aging infrastructure is the biggest issue for our state, saying, “the degradation of existing assets … is occurring to a point that is beyond a practical means to resolve them.”

•    At a second meeting of the Joint Economic Development and Global Engagement Committee, members heard recommendations and discussion regarding the replacement of the 20 year old economic tier system with a better methodology for measuring the economic distress of counties. Legislators are exploring ways in which to better focus resources on the state’s most economically distressed counties.

•    North Carolina’s business community is indicating a deep interest in the rural discussion. The N.C. Chamber Foundation has commissioned a rural economic development study that will result in a series of recommendations to the N.C. General Assembly for action in the short session set to begin on April 25th.

We welcome and we seek to engage all of these conversations.

At the Rural Center, we are making final preparations to add our contribution to these discussions through our release of a comprehensive Advocacy Agenda that focuses on what is needed to move rural North Carolina forward. It is the culmination of months of listening, asking questions of experts, and researching the issues. It reflects what we heard directly from you. It is directly relevant to all of the conversations cited above. It is offered in the best North Carolina tradition of partnership and collaboration: a determination to meet our rural future head-on, a commitment to saying that RURAL COUNTS and telling the rural story, and a deep belief that we are ONE state that must move forward together.

Please HOLD THE DATE, and make plans to join us at one of the following Advocacy Briefing Sessions. These sessions will include an optional workshop to help your rural community and region sharpen its advocacy skills.

REDI 2016 will transform a new class of rural leaders

ehlers cropBy Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications
 
 
The Rural Center offers a wide variety of rural economic development programs and initiatives, but nothing we do is as ingrained in our DNA as the Rural Economic Development Institute.

Each year, more than 30 rural leaders from across the state are accepted into the highly competitive program. Applications are now being accepted forredi logo cropped
the 2016 class, which will take place over nine days in March, April and May at the Rural Center in Raleigh.
 
The cirriculum has been retooled this year to help participants better tackle the 21st century challenges of rural economic development, but the overarching purpose of REDI has not changed: to build better rural leaders. The program accepts motivated individuals from all walks of life, including elected officials, government staff, nonprofit leaders, business owners, clergy members and community volunteers.
 
Through an intensive training regimen, REDI addresses rural leadership in two ways: it provides participants with techniques designed to enhance their skills as community leaders, and enhances their knowledge of economic and community development strategies.
 
Piard9Christina Piard, a 2015 REDI graduate who works as the community engagement coordinator for U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, said her leadership training improved her ability to connect with rural constituents. Butterfield's disctrict covers a large portion of northeastern North Carolina.
 
"I am so thankful for my experience in REDI, because I was able to put my leadership training to work immediately. REDI helped me hone in on the real opportunities in Eastern North Carolina and broadened my network of champions within the communities Congressman Butterfield serves."
 
REDI is a great opportunity for participants to learn from highly-skilled field experts, apply their leadership skills and network with leaders from across the state. The class provides a mix of presentations, interactive exercises, applied learning, and networking opportunities.

The Rural Center has limited scholarship assistance available for any applicant, as well as some special scholarship funds from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for those living in an eastern disaster relief county. The Duke Divinity School Thriving Rural Communities program also has provided scholarship support for Methodist ministers from any rural county. In addition, the Reidsville Area Foundation has set aside funds to help a rural leader from Rockingham County attend REDI. If you're interested in a scholarship, please complete the section at the end of the online application. 
 
For more information and to see the complete application, please click here. Applications are due January 29.
 
Questions? Please contact Misty Herget, the Rural Center's director of leadership, at mherget@ncruralcenter.org or (919) 250-4314.
 
 
 
 

Connect Carteret opens small biz incubator, thanks to Rural Center initiative

misty 2By Misty Herget
Director of Leadership
 
 
Connect Carteret, a group that offers professional development, community engagement and networking opportunities to young adults, recently launched the KickStart Carteret business incubator as part of the New Generation Leaders grant program. KickStart Carteret offers a creative work space with state-of-the-art technology, individual work stations and a full conference room.

Kickstart CarteretLocal community leaders gathered recently for KickStart's grand opening ceremony. (Pictured, from left to right: Misty Herget, First South Bank Market Executive Jeremy Dickinson, N.C. Sen. Norman Sanderson, Morehead City Mayor Jerry Jones, Connect Carteret Co-Chair Christina Fulcher and Will Rogers, Connect Carteret member).

"This innovative project will provide a number of long-term economic advantages for local entrepreneurs," Herget said. "Connect Carteret really came together and invested a lot of time and energy to assess the needs of the community, and design a project to meet those challenges."

Connect Carteret is a program of the Carteret County Chamber of Commerce, which received the grant. 

The New Generation Leaders program awarded $20,000 grants for a series of community endeavors. Additional New Generation Leaders projects:

Avery County Schools — Sponsored a college scholarship for a student planning to return to Avery County.

Edgecombe County Cooperative Extension — Supported a summer food program and a summer camp program, in addition to remodeling a community basketball court.

Harnett County — Started a community farm stand. Local youth have a community garden and are growing and selling produce to the broader community.

Haywood County — Designed and placed informational, educational and wayfinding signs and marketing materials for the county's greenway system.

Maysville — In progress.

River City Community Development Corporation — Planted five community gardens in neighborhoods with lower access to fresh produce.

Mt. Airy Professionals of Surry County — Revitalized a downtown alleyway to include seating, planters, lights and a stage.

Rural health funding strategies that work

Allen Smart 2By Allen Smart
Guest Contributor
Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

 

A note from the Rural Center: Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has made a remarkable commitment to rural health care and we are great believers in their approach. Here are a few of their takeaways.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust has been funding rural community health improvement work across the state of North Carolina since 2011. Approximately 85 percent of the Trust’s Healthkate b horiz Care Division funding is focused on rural North Carolina, which amounts to nearly $20 million in rural grant making annually.

These are a few of our lessons learned to do successful rural health improvement work:

  •     Commit to rural. Don’t just make a few grants in rural areas—make a long-term commitment to rural communities and then stick with it to see what makes a difference. Build trust within the community so they know you plan to work with them for years to come.
  •     Hire staff members who are from rural communities or have strong experience working at organizations that focus on rural areas.
  •     Working closely with government and elected officials is much more important in rural areas than in urban areas. Also, be on the lookout for state and federal opportunities that often bypass rural communities.
  •     Leverage non-health partners to work on health improvement issues to ensure the future vitality of the area. Remind people that health is more than health care—help people in the community, especially people outside of the health care sector, understand why they have a role to play and how it can benefit them long-term.
  •    Work across counties when possible but understand the differences between rural areas as well.
  •     Acknowledge that the people who live in the rural community are the experts. Listen to their ideas, their concerns and their thoughts on solutions.
  •     Don’t simply drop an urban evidence-based practice into a rural community. Do figure out how a successful evidence-based practice can be adapted for successful rural implementation.
  •     Find a group of other rural funders. Because many health funders focus on urban interventions, it’s useful to find a group of rural-focused health funders to share successes and challenges and discuss what you’re learning.

The Trust’s greatest example of long-term health improvement work in rural communities is Healthy Places NC, a $100 million initiative to improve health in 10 to 12 rural North Carolina counties. Read more about the Trust’s Healthy Places NC work and the impact it’s having on rural residents in the recent report “The Beginning of Change.”

Allen Smart is the interim president/vice president of programs, for the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Connect NC Bond campaign kicks off in Raleigh

ehlers cropBy Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications

 


A $2 billion bond issue designed to make lasting impacts on rural North Carolina will be on the March 15 primary ballot, and a broad, nonpartisan coalition is working to support its passage.

connect ncConnect NC Bond campaign organizers last week held a kickoff rally at N.C. State University. Hundreds of people created a standing-room only atmosphere inside the James B. Hunt Jr. Library to hear a number of dignitaries voice their support for the bond. Gov. Pat McCrory, former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, N.C. Sen. Dan Blue and Jim Rose, a Rural Center board member and Yadkin Bank regional vice president, were among those who addressed the crowd. Attorney General Roy Cooper, who is expected to face McCrory in the gubernatorial election this fall, also appeared at the event.

The Rural Center is working diligently to support the bond’s passage; the center estimates that a minimum of $887 million of the bond will be spent in rural counties.

“There is no one who is not impacted by this bond,” said Rose, who also serves as a co-chair of the Connect NC bond committee. 

He emphasized that the bond would fund improvements to the
university system, the community college system and National Guard facilities, while creating a funding pool to pay for much needed
water and sewer projects, particularly in rural counties.

McCrory made the case for building improvements that would be
made on a variety of college campuses, including the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University. He described passage of the bond issue as critical to the future of North Carolina, which has seen its population grow by more than two million people since the last bond issue was passed 15 years ago.

“We have a choice,” he said. “Do we prepare for the future, or do we want the leaders of the future to react to what we didn’t do?”

No tax increase will be required to pay for the bond. The Rural Center estimates that rural Tier 1 counties will receive $417.6 million, or 21 percent of the total. National Guard facilities in two rural counties are slated to benefit as well. In addition, the $85 million plant sciences building intended for N.C. State University will greatly impact rural parts of the state.

Over the next few weeks, the Connect NC Bond campaign will convene a series of informational sessions across the state to inform community leaders about the benefits of the bond. Rural Center staff will participate in a number of these sessions, and the center will host the meeting at 6 p.m. on January 14 in Raleigh. Click here to find a meeting near you.

STEP for Small Business kicks off multi-year project

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

More than 40 rural leaders from eight small towns across North Carolina gathered in October at the Rural Center for the kick-off training of the new STEP for Small Business pilot program. During the two-day workshop, representatives from Lansing (Ashe County), Marion (McDowell), Elkin (Surry), Scotland Neck (Halifax), Elizabethtown (Bladen), Plymouth (Washington), Star (Montgomery) and Siler City (Chatham) talked, brainstormed and experimented with how they would engage their entrepreneurs and small business owners in their communities to help them grow and succeed.

Plymouth step small bizConsultants Don Macke and Deb Markley from the national nonprofit, the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, led the workshop. They have worked in small communities across the country and have developed and deployed a model program to help rural communities grow their entrepreneurs and small business communities. This is the first time this model has been applied in North Carolina, and it was made possible by a matching grant from USDA Rural Development.

During this two-a-half-year program, each community will work with a coach to set up a framework in which to identify and counsel entrepreneurs and small business owners in their communities. Each town will also establish a credit advisory team, which will vet loan applications from small businesses aiming to leverage a portion of the $100,000 loan pool set aside for each community. This loan pool is managed by the Rural Center and is part of its Microenterprise Loan Program.

The STEP for Small Business project is intended to build the community economic development capacity of these eight small towns by providing a comprehensive business development program of community coaching, technical assistance, leadership training, and strategy implementation support. The goal is to support and nurture entrepreneurs and small businesses, who in turn will invest in their communities by starting or expanding businesses, creating new jobs and contributing to the overall quality of life in their small towns. 

Help support rural leadership by making a donation to REDI

zanna 2By Zanna Swann
Director of Development
 

redi 2015 4Make a difference in rural North Carolina by supporting the Rural Economic Development Institute with a gift now.
 
Over the past 26 years, the center has provided leadership training to more than 1,000 rural leaders who are making a difference throughout North Carolina.  
 
Each leadership development class includes several individuals who need scholarship support to attend. Scholarship recipients serve communities that desperately need the leadership skills and economic development training that is deemed so valuable by REDI alumni.

Please consider making a donation to REDI now. Your gift of

$30 could help provide individual class materials.
  $90 could provide hands-on leadership activity sets for a team.
        $500 could fund a trainer for a classroom session.
            $1,200 could support a full REDI scholarship that includes a travel stipend.

Make your gift by December 15 and your support can be put to use in the next REDI class that begins in March 2016.

 

More than 140 people attend The Next STEP workshops

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

“It was a great group of people with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds and I was honored to be included in the presentation.”  — workshop presenter, Liberty

“The workshop in Snow Hill was an outstanding event.” — workshop attendee, Snow Hill

“Many plans are underway in Hayesville as a result of the impetus from that meeting.” — workshop attendee, Canton

“The energy was apparent.” — workshop attendee, Snow Hill

What great feedback! Our latest workshops, The Next STEP: Harnessing Assets Near and Far, gathered rural leaders from across the state to connect them with the resources they need.

As most of you are aware, there have been a lot of changes in the funding and technical assistance landscape across the state in the last few years, and it is often difficult to know what resources still exist and where they exist. The Rural Center organized three regional workshops designed to help local leaders figure out how to locate and access not only financial resources — including philanthropic — but also technical assistance and specialized expertise.  
 
Approximately 140 people gathered in Canton, Liberty and Snow Hill to learn how they can tap their local and regional resources and assets, while realizing that there are a lot of resources in their own communities with which to strengthen their local economies and quality of life. Rural communities don’t have to rely only on Raleigh and Washington, whose resources have been diminishing.  

Panelists representing community foundations, regional health care foundations and corporate philanthropy explained how to build relationships with private funders, and the ways in which communities can approach their respective foundations to help move community and economic development projects. It’s a two-way street: Foundations are looking for good initiatives in which to invest.

Representatives from the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Cooperative Extension, Rural Forward N.C. and regional universities explained their funding and technical expertise programs. Each workshop ended with inspiring stories from individual small town leaders who have consistently worked toward revitalizing their communities.

Apply now for REDI 2016 and transform your leadership skills

mistyBy Misty Herget
Director of Leadership Development

 

For more than 25 years, the Rural Center has recognized the need to develop strong local leadership and build community capacity to overcome challenges of limited resources.

REDI 2014The Rural Economic Development Institute historically has taught a comprehensive approach to economic and community development in order to develop an individual’s leadership and team-building skills. While these knowledge and skills are still very relevant, the Institute recognizes the need to evolve in a state where demographics are shifting, economic development strategies are changing and partnerships and collaboration are more important than ever. 

We are very excited to roll out a revitalized REDI in 2016 to meet the needs of today’s rural leaders and communities! Participants will attend nine days of training at the N.C. Rural Center in Raleigh. The training is spread over three months, and includes learning opportunities outside the classroom. The Institute will focus on partnership building and collaboration, effective and inclusive leadership, wealth and asset-building, project implementation, engaging youth and young adults and accessing resources.  

After the completion of REDI, learning and networking continue among peers and other leaders across the state through alumni gatherings and continuing education opportunities. The graduates became a part of an alumni network of over 1,000 across the state who live in or serve rural North Carolina.

REDI 2016 will be held March 23-25, April 27-29, and May 24-26. Complete the online application by January 29 in order to be considered. You don’t want to miss out on this great opportunity to develop new skills, enhance existing ones and network with strong, innovative rural leaders across the state!  

For more information, please write: mherget@ncruralcenter.org.

We're in the midst a busy fall at the Rural Center, headlined by our Rural Advocacy Agenda and REDI

patrickwoodie-1By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

 

We have lots of news to bring you as the center moves through a busy fall schedule. Our Rural Advocacy Agenda is taking shape, applications are being accepted for the 2016 Rural Economic Development Institute, and our community engagement efforts include a workshops to connect communities with funders.

•    Rural Advocacy Agenda — Early in 2016, the Rural Center will roll out our first-ever Rural Advocacy Agenda, and soon after that, we’ll be bringing it to a community near you. Today, Jason Gray, our senior fellow for research and policy, is leading this work, together with staff members and our external partners, as we continue shaping this important document. If you haven’t already done so, here’s your last chance to complete the Rural Advocacy Survey. The survey period ends on November 20.

•    Completely Updated 2016 Rural Economic Development InstituteREDI 26 will take place between March and May of 2016, and we’re taking your applications now! Center staff and REDI faculty are completely reviewing, updating and modernizing the time-tested REDI curriculum to make it even more relevant to today’s rural leaders. See Misty Herget's article in this newsletter for the exciting details. This is the Institute you don’t want to miss!

•    Over 140 people recently attended a series of workshops titled, "The Next STEP: Harnessing Assets Near and Far." A big part of our community engagement program is making sure rural leaders have the latest information regarding the resources available to them from the philanthropic sector and federal and state government. We work to make sure you know where to go for what, and we love to help you put a program with a face, which is exactly what this series of workshops accomplished.  

Finally, a personal note: The center staff and board were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former 6th District Congressman Howard Coble. Over his 30-year career in Congress and as the longest-serving Republican Congressman in the history of the state, the center got to know Congressman Coble well, and he got to know us. He was a strong advocate on the workforce development issues we have cared so deeply about, including extending the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. He was a faithful custodian of the public trust, he instilled in his staff the desire to serve the needs of his constituents, and he was tenacious in representing the interests of the 6th Congressional District. We pay tribute and give thanks for the life of a true public servant.

Workshops on tap to help communities find funding, technical assistance

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

As part of the Small Towns Economic Prosperity program, the Rural Center has organized three regional workshops on a topic that we think will be of prime importance to all of you — how to locate and access financial resources, technical assistance and specialized expertise.

The workshops are called "The Next STEP: Harnessing Assets Near and Far" and will be held in Canton (October 27), Liberty (October 29) and Snow Hill (November 5). Click on each town for an agenda. The programs are similarly organized but offer different panelists.

There have been a lot of changes in the funding and technical assistance landscape across the state the last few years, and it is often difficult to know what resources still exist and where they exist. These workshops address that problem.

To register, please email: crogers@ncruralcenter.org. In the email, please include your name and organization, as well as which meeting you'd like to attend. Register early! Each workshop will be capped at 40 attendees.

The cost is $10 per participant, which covers lunch. Payment will be collected at the door. Cash or checks are accepted; please make checks payable to the N.C. Rural Center.

Questions? Please write crogers@ncruralcenter.org.

See you soon!

After the Assembly: Five next-steps for your community

Freddoso editBy Joe Freddoso
Guest Contributor
Connect with Joe on Twitter @joefreddoso

 

The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly was a great primer for rural North Carolina leaders interested in developing and implementing strategies to improve broadband access in their communities. It was an information-packed day, highlighted by a powerful luncheon keynote delivered by Jonathan Chambers, chief of policy and strategy for the Federal Communications Commission. Watch his Assembly keynote address.

Chambers gave the attendees a call to action. He stressed that attracting better broadband (and specifically, fiber) to rural communities is in the hands of local leadership. The attendees also heard a stark reality: the presence of better digital infrastructure will delineate the communities that experience job growth, better healthcare, higher educational attainment and greater overall prosperity, from those that do not.

Much information was presented and passed. Side conversations between rural leaders and presenters were the norm, and there is no simple way to summarize all of the information. However, there are some fairly straightforward initial steps that communities can take to begin laying the foundation for attracting fiber service to citizens and businesses.

1) Use the resources offered by the N.C. Office of Digital Infrastructure to map the current state of your community's broadband service. Every county in North Carolina has some fiber-based infrastructure because every public school in the state is served by fiber. The Office of Digital Infrastructure maps broadband availability in the state and has conducted several detailed studies of fiber availability.

2) Inventory the needs of your community's largest broadband customers and have them join together for a meeting. Consider inviting:

a)  The superintendent of schools and her/his technology director
b) The head of the local hospital or healthcare clinic
c) The leadership team from your largest private employers
d) Your local librarian
e) Higher education leaders (two-year and four-year)
f) Government IT leaders
g) Your broadband service providers
h) Representatives from wireless providers/cell phone companies who service your area
i) Association heads from large neighborhoods and housing developments
j) Faith leaders
k) Other key leaders

Encourage participants to bring information about how they are receiving broadband service today and have them express their opinion regarding the desire to get better service. Log the current status, expiration date and bandwidth details of their service, and see if you can gain commitments to aggregate the broadband demand of several entities into one procurement. Finally, have these customers project their future demand for bandwidth and assess their confidence in the current service providers’ ability to meet these needs.

3) Contact the North Carolina Office of Digital Infrastructure and the Federal Broadband USA program to gain an understanding of state and federal funding sources for broadband. Explore funding sources from:

Log the funding resources that may be applicable to your region/situation.  Contact these funders to better understand how each resource may be leveraged in your community. 

4) Share the results of the broadband gathering and make the minutes publicly available. Form a task force that meets regularly to talk about aggregating demand and tracking progress. Map the locations of these customers and chart their projected future demand. After the meeting, reach out separately to your current broadband service providers and to local electric and telephone membership cooperatives. Structure a dialog with local broadband service providers after gathering the demand information and grant, loan, reimbursement or subsidy information. Propose to these providers an open and competitive process that will allow them to respond to how they will meet the community’s future demand for bandwidth, preferably with fiber deployments.

5) Don’t settle for the status quo. Assess the responses received from service providers with respect to customer demand and the funding information, and if there are still gaps, expand the search for an entity to meet the community's fiber/broadband needs. The Rural Assembly featured dozens of speakers who highlighted a variety of business models and innovative public-private partnerships for delivering broadband service to rural communities. Pick a few that resonated with you and reach out to those speakers to learn more about how they are addressing the gaps in their communities — the Rural Center is always willing to help facilitate these connections.  

These steps may seem difficult, but remember, the stakes are high. The Rural Center stands ready to help get communities on the path to better connectivity. Expect to receive regular communications about future funding opportunities and important advocacy and policy updates. And finally, be sure to keep the Rural Center posted on your progress so we can continue to track best practices and share learning between communities.

Thanks for a great Assembly! Please let us know how we can improve

patrickwoodie-1By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

 

The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly, “Cultivating Connectivity: Leveraging Broadband to Accelerate Opportunity," is in the history books and was a resounding success. Approximately 400 of you joined us September 28-29 to hear from federal, state and private sector broadband experts. If you missed it, or if you attended and are interested in reviewing what you experienced, click for:

•    A directory of agendas, speaker presentations, videos and other materials that many of you have asked to receive, plus a directory of Rural Assembly attendees;
•    A straight-forward, five-step approach to what any community can do right now to work toward improving their broadband connectivity. This piece is authored by Joe Freddoso, co-founder of Mighty River LLC and former CEO of MCNC,  who assisted the Rural Center in delivering a first-class conference agenda;
•    The powerful keynote address delivered by Jonathan Chambers, chief of the office of strategic planning and policy analysis for the FCC;
•    Constructive feedback from our attendees to assist us in planning the 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly.

If you have ideas about how we could make next year's conference even better, please let us know by dropping a note to: info@ncruralcenter.org.
 
We are already working toward the 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly. Next year's event will be held at the same venue, on September 26-27, 2016. Mark your calendars!

Pre-conference agenda packed with diverse topics

ehlers2By Matt Ehlers
Director of Communications
 
 

This year's Rural Assembly has been expanded to include a series of workshops the day before the main event. Although the Assembly focuses on improving broadband connectivity — which is absolutely critical to rural North Carolina — comprehensive rural development encompasses a range of interconnected strategies.

These workshops were designed to touch on a number of them. Participants may choose from: 

Beyond Broadband: Rural Physical Infrastructure Rural development depends on improved water and sewer, natural gas, building redevelopment and transportation infrastructure. Participants will learn the latest information and discover the resources available. Presenters will include: David Peoples, Rural Development Division, N.C. Department of CommerceMelody Adams, Rural Development Division, N.C. Department of Commerce, John LaPenta, N.C. Office of State Budget and Management, Ron O. Mays Jr., Piedmont Natural Gas.

Leveraging Connectivity: Rural Health, Community and Broadband This session will describe efforts in rural communities to create and upgrade connections to improve and monitor health as well as to support the physical and economic health of communities and schools. Presenters will include: Maggie Sauer, N.C. Foundation for Advanced Health Programs, Chris Collins, Office of Rural Health and Community Care, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Affordable High Performance School Construction for Rural Communities Sandy Grove Middle School in Hoke County is the nation's first energy-positive, LEED-Platinum Designed, leased public school, and it was delivered through a public-private partnership. Attendees will learn more about this process and the potential impact of net-zero school construction. Presenters will include: Robbie Ferris, Sfl+a Architects, Tony Hunt, Hoke County Board of Commissioners and Lumbee Tribal Administrator, Aaron Thomas, Metcon Construction.

Passing the Torch: Farm and Small Business Succession Planning Learn how local leaders can promote farm and succession planning as a rural youth development strategy. Hear from experts about facilitating succession opportunities and see examples of successful farm and business traditions in rural North Carolina. Presenters will include: Andrew Branan, Branan Law Firm, Scott Daugherty, N.C. Small Businesss Technology Development Center.

New Statewide International Strategy — What it Means for Rural N.C. As developed by UNC's Center for International Understanding and the N.C. Coalition for Global Competitiveness, "Global NC" is a first-in-the-nation effort to develop a strategy around global engagement and competitiveness. This session will provide a format to discuss opportunities in globalization for rural North Carolina. Presenters: Rachel Page and Stephanie Caplan, Center for International Understanding.

See a detailed agenda and register now!

 


 

Rural Resource Fair to highlight funding opportunities

chilton webBy Chilton Rogers
Director of Community Engagement

 

Back by popular demand, the Assembly's Rural Resource Fair brings together funders with other organizations that offer technical assistance and resources. Participants often describe the Rural Resource Fair as their favorite part of the Assembly. 

Representatives will include: Golden LEAF Foundation, N.C. Community Foundation, Appalachian Regional Commission, USDA – Rural Development, North Carolina Main Street program, N.C Department of Commerce, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, N.C. Office of Information Technology Services, UNC’s Kenan Institute, Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!), and many others.

This year the Rural Resource Fair will be held concurrently with the networking reception at the close of the conference. Enjoy North Carolina food and beverages as you meet the people who can help you help your community. 

Register now for the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly and makes plans to join us for the Rural Resource Fair. Looking forward to seeing you on September 29th!


Assembly scholarships available for Western N.C. participants, CDC staffers

mistyBy Misty Herget
Director of Leadership
 
 

Do you live in a county served by the Appalachian Regional Commission? If so, there is good news! Scholarships are available to cover registration costs to the N.C. Rural Assembly on September 28-29. Click here for a list of ARC counties.

The Assembly begins on September 28 with pre-conference workshops, a reception and dinner. In order to receive a scholarship, ARC award recipients must agree to attend the pre-conference workshop, "Passing the Torch: Farm and Small Business Succession Planning." The workshop will feature experts on facilitating succession opportunities and promoting farm and small business succession planning as a rural youth development strategy.

Employees of Community Development Corporations throughout North Carolina are eligible to apply for a separate set of scholarships. Like the ARC scholarships, these awards cover the $200 registration cost for both days of Assembly programming. CDC scholarship winners are invited to attend the pre-conference workshop of their choice. See a detailed Assembly agenda.

Download this form to apply for either scholarship. Please note that in each case, the scholarship does not cover hotel or travel costs.

Questions? please email me, mherget@ncruralcenter.org or call (919) 250-4314.


The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly is right around the corner

patrickwoodie-1By Patrick Woodie
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie 

 

Register now    See a detailed agenda

The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly is fast approaching, and we hope you have already registered and plan to join us on September 28-29. If you haven’t, please register today for an information-packed agenda that you will not want to miss.

During our recent advocacy roundtable meetings, the fundamental importance of state-of-the-art broadband connectivity was a recurring theme in each of the rural communities we visited. Many of you voiced a similar observation: We need the same commitment to broadband that we had to rural electrification in the 1930s. Simply put, broadband is at the very foundation of being able to transact business, to access a high quality life, and to live a globally connected life. Clearly, though much has been accomplished in the last decade, many rural communities need better and more affordable broadband service.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to how a rural community improves its broadband, but any answer lies in first seeking to better understand the infrastructure. There are a wide range of already successful deployment models, and Assembly attendees will hear about many of them. Success will require a range of public/private partnerships that leverage what assets exist, integrate new and emerging technologies and on a community-by-communtiy basis, determine the right fit. The Rural Assembly pulls it all together for you in one place and at one time. 

Speakers will include: FCC Chief of Policy and Strategy Jonathan Chambers, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, N.C. Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, Jeff Sural from the N.C. Office of Digital Infrastructure, Chris Estes, Chief Information Officer for the State of North Carolina, N.C. Rep. Grier Martin, N.C. Rep. Jason Saine and N.C. Senator Jeff Tarte. From the private sector, we will be joined by Vennesa Harrison of North Carolina AT&T, Rondi Furgason with CenturyLink and Jean Davis with MCNC, among many others.

If you want more than just broadband, be sure to check out our pre-conference “mini-conferences” – five topics of paramount interest and importance to rural leaders. As always, the Assembly offers the state's best networking opportunity for rural leaders, along with our celebratory rural partners dinner and awards ceremony.


Don't miss the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly

By Patrick WoodieRural-Assembly-2015-Logo H copypatrickwoodie-1
President
Connect with Patrick on Twitter @patrickwoodie

 

 

Register Now

 

We have greatly enjoyed being on the road in rural North Carolina over these past few weeks. Thanks to the hundreds of you who participated in a regional advocacy roundtable.

Now our full attention turns to the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly, the state's largest annual convening of rural leadership. Join us September 28th and 29th in the Triangle as we proudly present "Cultivating Connectivity: Leveraging Broadband to Accelerate Opportunity." Click here to see a detailed agenda.

Broadband infrastructure was an item of discussion in every regional roundtable, and it's clear we all agree its widespread availability and affordability is a critical short and long-term economic development priority for rural North Carolina. Speakers include FCC Chief of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis Jonathan Chambers, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson, N.C. Secretary of Cultural Resources Susan Kluttz, CenturyLink Vice President Rondi Furgason, President of AT&T North Carolina Venessa Harrison, N.C. Chief Information Officer Chris Estes and Jeff Sural, general counsel and policy director for the N.C. Office of Information Technology Services. Joe Freddoso of Mighty River LLC, who formerly served as CEO of MCNC, will serve as the conference emcee.

A broad range of expertise is lined up to join us as speakers, representing all the major federal and state agencies with broadband responsibilities, as well as the private and nonprofit sectors. Topics will include:

Framing the Broadband Discussion
Rural Broadband Deployment Models
Expanding Our Leadership: High Speed Education
Broadband to Community Anchor Institutions
Community Initiatives: Rural Communities meeting their broadband needs
Broadband as a Rural Jobs Engine
Broadband Funding Overview

As always, the conference will include great networking oppportunities, including the Rural Resource Fair and Reception. I look forward to seeing you.