Billy Ray Hall is a longtime champion of rural North Carolina. As president of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center since its inception in 1987, Hall has guided the center’s work on behalf of the state’s 85 rural counties with the mission of improving quality of life for all North Carolinians. At the request of then Gov. James B. Hunt Jr., he also led statewide recovery efforts following hurricanes Fran (1996-97) and Floyd (1999-2000). He currently serves on the boards of the Golden LEAF Foundation, the N.C. Biofuels Center, the Kerr-Tar Regional Economic Development Corporation, the N.C. Sustainable Local Food Advisory Council, the e-NC Authority, the N.C. Agricultural Advancement Consortium and the N.C. Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Council.
Before the formation of the Rural Center, Hall held several state policy positions, including deputy secretary of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, assistant director for policy development in the N.C. Department of Administration and chief economist in the Office of State Planning. He also served as executive director of the N.C. Commission on Jobs and Economic Growth.
Hall holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from N.C. State University and in 2007 received an honorary doctorate from the university. Other honors have included the Order of the Long Leaf Pine (1997), an award for distinguished service to agriculture from the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation (2008) and a humanitarian award from the N.C. Association of Black County Officials (1998). The Appalachian Regional Commission named Hall one of its People Who Make A Difference in 1995. The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation included him in its Profiles in Leadership in 1998, and in 1999, The News and Observer of Raleigh named him a Tar Heel of the Week.
Hall is a native of Duplin County, North Carolina.
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