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LEADERSHIP

Civic Ventures Fund Grantees

Development Grants

Town of Burnsville: $5,000 for the next phase in the community's efforts to revitalize the historic town square.

Land of Sky Regional Council: $5,000 for the "Sense of Place" initiative to protect and restore the region's natural assets.

Alliance for Human Service, Partnership for Health and Designing our Future: $5,000 for cultural competency workshops and an outreach and education campaign.

Caldwell Community College: $5,000 for the Strengthening Families/Closing the Achievement Gap Task Force.

AVE! Chautauqua: $5,000 to develop and promote the Andrews Valley Experience heritage and cultural event.

Northwest Alliance Community Development Corporation: $5,000 to establish the CDC and improve its ability to serve an eight-county region in northwest North Carolina.

Town of Waynesville: $10,000 to hold a series of community charettes as part of its land use plan development process.

Helping Hands Cooperative Parish & The Hiddenite Center: $10,000 to create a comprehensive youth initiative and calendar of youth-centered events.

Implementation Grants

Center for Participatory Change: $25,000 to implement the Appalachian Farm Project with local grassroots organizations.

HandMade in America: $25,000 to provide technical assistance and training on project evaluation to 11 communities participating in the Small Towns program.

Town of Burnsville: $25,000 for streetscape improvements in downtown Burnsville.

Sylva Partners in Renewal: $25,000 for Phase II of the Mill Street revitalization project.

Mountain Valleys RC&D & Mountain Partners in Agriculture: $25,000 for the Get Fresh - Buy Appalachian campaign and a regional roundtable series.

Town of Fletcher: $25,000 for a sidewalk connection between the town park greenway trail and the Heart of Fletcher business district.

Madison County: $25,000 for revitalization efforts in the Rollins Community.

Partnerships for the Future: $25,000 for a director position to coordinate committees, move projects forward, and raise funds for the partnership's efforts.

Grant Programs

 

Economic Innovation Grants

The Economic Innovation Grants Program spurs business activity, job creation and public/private investment by supporting innovative economic development projects. Funds are provided by the North Carolina General Assembly and are available for local and regional projects in rural communities. Proposals are evaluated based on the innovative nature of the project and the project’s ability to generate measurable outcomes for business and job expansion.

 

The center accepted grant applications for projects in four areas:

  • Advanced manufacturing in rural communities.
  • Rural health care industry economic opportunities that support growth in higher skill, higher wage jobs and that have the potential to improve health outcomes in rural areas.  
  • Value-added processing for farmers, natural resource producers, and commercial fishing.
  • Innovative community economic development strategies that capitalize on the unique assets of a community to create jobs, grow incomes and strengthen local economies.


Grants of up to $100,000 were awarded in April 2013. Winning projects will have potential for economic impact within two years. The program required a 10 percent match for the funding requested. Half of the match must have been cash from non-federal and non-state sources.

Eligible applicants were units of local government, nonprofits and educational institutions located in one of North Carolina’s 85 rural counties. Also eligible were statewide and regional organizations and agencies applying on behalf of a project in a rural county.

 

Research & Demonstration Grants

The center’s research grants have provided funds to community, regional and state-level organizations to carry out promising research that addresses critical rural development issues. Results have included:

  • Alternative crops and markets for small farmers
  • Expansion of markets for the state’s crafts industry
  • Establishment of technical, apprenticeship and entrepreneurial training programs in the schools
  • Expansion of quality child care available to rural working families
  • Introduction of alternative water and wastewater systems
  • Expansion of regional solutions to rural solid waste problems
  • Sound models for distance learning and other rural telecommunications uses

 

Research grants are made on an invitation basis.

 

Contact

Brett Altman, senior policy associate, Economic Innovations Program

N.C. Rural Economic Development Center

4021 Carya Drive

Raleigh, NC 27610

Telephone: 919-250-4314

Fax: 919-250-4325

Tobacco-Dependent Communities Research Initiative

This article was posted in 2000.

 

Background

Tobacco has been closely tied to North Carolina's history, politics and economy for more than two centuries. It brings in $1 billion annually and is second only to hogs and poultry in farm sales. On the national level, North Carolina accounts for more than a third of the tobacco grown in the United States and more than half of the flue-cured tobacco.

 

Yet, tobacco communities in North Carolina are facing a number of challenges that will forever change tobacco's place in the state's economic and social landscape. Among these challenges are several multi-billion-dollar lawsuits either decided or pending against the tobacco industry—in particular, the $206 billion settlement signed in November 1998 between the cigarette manufacturers and the states' attorneys general.

 

Along with the lawsuits have come additional federal cutbacks in tobacco allotments (the right to grow tobacco), a decline in cigarette exports, an increase in federal and state cigarette excise taxes and an increasingly tough regulatory environment. Added to this situation are closures and layoffs at cigarette plants, warehouses, and stemming and redrying facilities.

 

To determine what these challenges will mean to North Carolina's tobacco-dependent communities, the Rural Center launched the North Carolina Tobacco-Dependent Communities Project in 1999 in collaboration with the state's leading tobacco and economic experts.

 

Project plan

The purpose of this three-step project is to identify changes taking place in the industry, to look at the impact of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement on rural communities and to develop recommendations for state and local action.

 

Step I. The first step, which began in May 1999, was to collect data and develop a model to analyze the changing economics of tobacco in North Carolina. The purpose of this work has been to provide policy leaders and others with the information they need to plan for the future and develop responses to changes as they unfold.

 

Step II. The second phase of the project, which began in the summer of 2000, focuses on outreach and public input. A series of regional workshops in August and September provided farmers, tobacco workers, community leaders, economic development specialists, health advocates and interested citizens an opportunity to help develop the plans and responses they feel are most appropriate and effective. The recommendations gathered at the workshops are to be presented to legislators, North Carolina's congressional delegation and local government leaders. They will also be presented to the boards of the Phase I tobacco settlement funds, including Golden LEAF Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will administer half of the state's tobacco settlement monies, which were set aside to aid tobacco-affected areas.

 

Step III. This phase, under way in fall of 2000, focuses on the development and analysis of policy options for local, regional, state and federal leadership, as well as North Carolina's leading philanthropic organizations and the newly created 1998 Tobacco Settlement organizations, including Golden LEAF Foundation, the Tobacco Trust Fund and the Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

 

Funding

Funding for the North Carolina Tobacco-Dependent Communities Project comes from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the United States Economic Development Administration.

 

Progress to date

Step I. In the wake of the 1998 settlement and other tobacco-related factors such as Hurricane Floyd's destruction of tobacco fields, the Rural Center study found that the state's tobacco communities could face the following economic impacts over the next three to five years:

  • A decline in cigarette production of nine to 17 percent
  • Tobacco production declines of 5 to 10 percent
  • A reduction in tobacco quota owner income of 1 to 2.4 percent
  • Total direct and indirect economic impacts to the state including:
    • Lost output (sales) of $2.2 to $4 billion annually (0.6 to 1.1 percent of the state total)
    • A permanent loss of between 14,500 and 26,700 jobs (0.3 to 0.6 percent of the state total)
    • Lost annual earnings between $403 million and $743 million (0.3 to 0.6 percent of the state total)

Within the context of the state's overall economy, the negative economic impact of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement is relatively small—less than 1 percent in many areas. In areas where tobacco remains a significant part of the local economy, however, the outlook is grimmer. Areas that are most dependent on tobacco leaf production, tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing will experience significant declines in their economies. The impact of the settlement on these towns and communities will be painful and recovery will be difficult and long term.

 

Step II. The workshops drew crowds of farmers, local residents and government officials who voiced some strong concerns, including the need to keep small farms strong, to care for older tobacco farmers and workers, and to maintain much-needed governmental services for local citizens. The concern for older tobacco workers and farmers centered on the challenge of retraining for new jobs in agriculture or other businesses. The average age of tobacco farmers in North Carolina is 56.

 

Economic development and local government officials who attended the sessions expressed their desire to help farmers who want to leave farming to move into other kinds of work. Some officials said they're worried about the possibility of declining local tax bases while many residents of tobacco-dependent communities are going to need increased governmental services.

 

Comments during the Ahoskie workshop, which addressed issues facing African-American and minority farmers and communities, focused on the possibility of co-ops, other crop development and new approaches to local and regional marketing.

 

In western counties where tobacco is grown mainly as a secondary income source, farmers were interest in finding reasonable alternative crops or converting to organic production techniques. Another possibility that was discussed in the western workshops was "buy-local" initiatives, which through marketing and co-ops, local grocery stores would be encouraged to purchase from local farmers.

 

Those attending the workshop in Winston-Salem expressed their concern for preserving the cultural and historical legacy of tobacco through heritage tourism. Another concern for the Triad area is that because of its historic reliance on an old economy structure, including tobacco farming and furniture manufacturing, it will be difficult to convert to a new economy structure, including high technology jobs.

 

Next Steps

Step III. Information gathered during the workshops will be presented in report form to the North Carolina General Assembly, local government officials, the state's congressional delegation and the trust funds that will administer the state's tobacco settlement monies. Reports on the workshops also will be sent to workshop participants.

 

The Rural Center is also working with economists and economic development experts at UNC-Chapel Hill and agriculture economists at North Carolina State University to develop economic models, which will form the basis of tobacco-related policy options. This work is slated to be finished by February 2001.

 

Tobacco Advisory Committee

The tobacco advisory committee was formed in 1999 to examine the changes facing the tobacco industry, specifically the impacts of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement. Members include:

W. David Austin, Research Triangle Institute; Betty Bailey, RAFI; Johnny Bailey, N.C. Department of Revenue; Rolf Blizzard, Office of the President Pro Tem, N.C. Senate; Richard Bostic, Fiscal Research Division of the N.C. General Assembly; A. Blake Brown, NCSU Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Michael Brown, RAFI; Billy Caldwell, Cooperative Extension Service; W.K. Collins, N.C. Agricultural Extension Service; Kevin Cook, Governor's Policy Office; Harry Daniel, N.C. Department of Agriculture; Peter Daniel, N.C. Farm Bureau; LeAnn Davis, N.C. Department of Commerce; Ferrel Guillory, School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNC-CH; Arnold Hamm, Flu-Cured Tobacco Stabilization; Ed Jones, NCSU; Akhtar Khan, Employment Security Commission; Mike Kiltie, State Budget and Management; Don Liner, Institute of Government; Donald McDowell, N.C. A&T University; Bill McNeil, N.C. Department of Commerce; Norma Ware Mills, Office of the President Pro Tem of the N.C. Senate; Thomas A. Sabel, U.S. Department of Agriculture; David J. Sullivan, N.C. Community College System; Rebecca Troutman, N.C. Association of County Commissioners; and William Upchurch, N.C. Department of Agriculture.

 

Read the Rural Center's report, "Tobacco in North Carolina: What's in store for our economy, our communities?"

Communities of Faith Initiative

This article was updated in 2001.

 

Working across denominational and racial lines to address the needs of rural people, especially those living in or near poverty, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center launched the Communities of Faith Initiative in 1993. The purpose of the initiative was to build an alliance among the most prevalent, powerful institutions in rural communities - rural churches - to support those most in need. Under the Communities of Faith umbrella, the Rural Center conducted several projects, the most important of which were the Church Child Care Initiative and the Work First Job Retention and Follow-Up Model Program.

 

Church Child Care Initiative

To address the growing need for accessible, affordable, high quality child care in rural communities, the Rural Center joined with leaders of the faith community in 1993 to form North Carolina's first partnership for children. The partnership is an inter-denominational, inter-racial group of 12 leading denominations, the N.C. Council of Churches, the Duke Divinity School and the Duke Endowment and the Rural Center.

 

Together, these groups have developed a Church Child Care Initiative, which, for almost a decade, has served low and moderate-income families in rural areas by:

  • Providing technical assistance to individuals wishing to develop, expand or improve child care programs in rural churches
  • Providing a loan guarantee program for churches and others in economically distressed areas who seek capital for child care facilities, equipment and other needs
  • Sponsoring a statewide Church Child Care Policy Forum for religious leaders
  • Sponsoring an annual workshop series at sites throughout the state for churches interested in developing child care programs
  • Publishing and distributing "A Child at the Door," a comprehensive guidebook for starting and running a church-based child care program
  • Sponsoring an annual statewide Church Child Care conference

Working across denominational and racial lines to address the needs of rural people, especially those living in or near poverty, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center launched the Communities of Faith Initiative in 1993. The purpose of the initiative was to build an alliance among the most prevalent, powerful institutions in rural communities - rural churches - to support those most in need. Under the Communities of Faith umbrella, the Rural Center conducted several projects, the most important of which were the Church Child Care Initiative and the Work First Job Retention and Follow-Up Model Program.

 

Work First Job Retention and Follow-up Model Program

The groundwork for this project was laid in March 1997 with a two-day Communities of Faith Conference sponsored by the Rural Center, the Duke Endowment and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Attending the conference were more than a hundred church leaders who came to explore the role rural churches play in the welfare reform movement. Other events followed, during which interest escalated. These events included a second conference in 1998, meetings among foundation leaders to discuss the role of philanthropic organizations in welfare reform and meetings with the N.C. Division of Social Services to discuss the possibility of creating a multi-agency initiative for assisting welfare families.

 

In March 1999, the Rural Center entered into a contractual partnership with the N.C. Division of Social Services to initiate a church-based pilot program designed to support rural families as they moved from welfare to work. The goals of the program are to help those participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to attain and maintain self-sufficiency through job retention, family support services and pre- and post-TANF follow-up.

 

To put the program into action, the Rural Center made "faith demonstration awards" to faith-based organizations that are now testing new ideas and serving local TANF recipients at sites throughout North Carolina. Following is a summary of the projects now being undertaken by these groups.

  • Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry - The ministry, which in the past provided basic necessities for needy families, has expanded its services to include assessing individual job readiness, initiating a case management program to help families move from welfare to work and facilitating transportation services for those families. The initiative focuses on five western North Carolina counties.


  • The Christian Women's Job Corps - Launched by the Women's Missionary Union of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Christian Women's Job Corps develops one-on-one mentoring programs to help women break out of the cycle of poverty through mentoring, job training and job placement. The Job Corps currently has five operational sites and is working to establish program at six more sites.

  • Catholic Social Ministries - A nonprofit agency serving 54 counties through seven regional offices and several family support sites, Catholic Social Ministries has initiated a Working Families Partners program. This program creates teams of volunteers from churches to help families in need, as identified by local social services departments. So far, the program has trained 95 volunteers and is operating in Brunswick, New Hanover, Wake, Johnston, Cumberland, Lee and Craven counties.

  • The Jobs Partnership - Building on local partnerships between the faith and business communities, the Jobs Partnership emphasizes job retention, family support services, mentoring and transportation models, as well as an innovative technology training program. The Jobs Partnership Program is operating in Vance, Granville and Wake counties.

  • The TANF Faith Collaborative - Representing the A.M.E. A.M.E.Z., GBSC and UMC/BMCR churches, this collaborative has initiated computer-assisted instruction pilot programs in 15 counties. Other collaborative efforts include the Cornerstone Lifestyle Innovations for Employment Program and the St. Paul's Employment Institute, which has initiated 21 replication sites in 12 additional counties.

  • Women's Missionary Union's Christian Women's Job Corps - The Christian Women's Job Corps, modeled after an initiative under way in Alabama, centers on one woman helping one woman break the cycle of poverty. The program provides long-term mentoring services by encouraging Christian women, through the Job Corps, to pair up with Work First families, making a commitment of at least one year, to help them transition into the workforce.

  • Faith Empowerment Community Consortium - The consortium consists of more than 200 houses of workshop and faith-based organizations in 11 counties and represents 12 denominations. It provides training, mentoring and job placement assistance for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.

  • Welfare Reform Liaison Project, Inc. - The Welfare Reform Project offers a 12-week program that includes a mix of classroom experiences, on the job training and intensive casework. A central component of the program is the distribution job training center that receives, inventories and disseminates corporate donations to families, churches and non-profit organizations.

  • Truth in Youth and Family Services/Southeastern Empowerment To Work Program - Truth in Youth is a community resource center that provides crisis management and referral services for families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. The program provides an after-school counseling and work program in Brunswick County and works with single moms, economically disadvantaged women and others in Columbus, Bladen and Brunswick counties.

Representatives from these programs, along with the Rural Center and the Division of Social Services, make up a working committee for the Work First Initiative. Each quarter, the committee shares its experiences, facilitates collaborations among programs, and provides insights, which will be presented in a final report.

 

The Work First initiative provides technical assistance, organizational development and project oversight to faith-based organizations involved in the initiative. In turn, the faith communities provide much-needed personal attention and support to families struggling to find and keep living-wage jobs.

 

Funding

Financial support for the Communities of Faith Initiative has come from the Duke Endowment, the Grant Fund of New York and the North Carolina Division of Social Services.

 

Sustainable Communities Initiative

This article was posted in 2000.

 

Background

In recent months, North Carolina's state-level leadership has committed itself to an ambitious agenda for rural advancement. This agenda includes initiatives to give young children a strong start in life, to ensure Internet access statewide, to build and improve community water and sewer systems, to invest in promising rural businesses and to reinvigorate agriculture.

 

As impressive and far-reaching as they are, these initiatives alone cannot bring new vitality to rural North Carolina. To be successful in the 21st century, rural communities must be able to create a clear vision for their own future. They must have a commitment to broad involvement in decision-making; an understanding of the dynamic balance among economic opportunity, social well being and environmental quality; and the ability to anticipate and plan for the long-term future.

 

While North Carolina's rural communities have long been blessed with committed, hard-working leaders, many do not have the necessary resources to plan strategically for the future they desire. In response, the North Carolina Rural Prosperity Task Force recommended in February 2000 a Sustainable Communities Initiative to equip rural communities with the tools they need to meet the economic, social, educational, civic and environmental challenges of the new century. The task force directed the Rural Center to champion and coordinate the effort.

 

Project overview

The Rural Center began development of the Sustainable Communities Initiative in the spring of 2000 with the following goals:

  • To increase access to leadership development opportunities for rural leaders, particularly those who live and work in distressed communities;
  • To increase access to technical assistance and financial resources that help rural communities build internal capacity for the development of sustainable economies and communities;
  • To increase community capacity to solve multidimensional problems through the use of inclusive problem-solving and planning processes; and
  • To increase community ability to develop and implement sustainable economic development projects in distressed communities.

Toward this end, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is being designed around the following three components:

 

A rural leadership development fund. The objective of the Leadership Opportunities Fund will be to provide needs-based scholarships to present and future rural leaders who wish to participate in leadership development programs. Emphasis will be placed on programs that provide training in community collaboration and comprehensive economic development. As a first step, the Rural Center will conduct an assessment to identify community leadership needs and eligible leadership programs.

 

A rural technical assistance program. The Civic Enterprise Planning and Support Program will serve to help rural communities undertake collaborative and comprehensive planning to solve local problems and to connect to an array of resources and services. The program is an outgrowth of the work undertaken by MDC Inc. with the support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the involvement of state, nonprofit and community organizations.

 

A model civic venture fund. The Civic Venture Fund will provide a dedicated source of grant money to help communities implement projects that address multiple, integrated issues and result in sustainable enterprises and communities. The fund will support projects that can demonstrate a clear return on the investment—including civic, economic, social, environmental and educational returns.

 

Timeline

The initiative will be divided into three major steps to take place over five years.

 

Phase I will involve planning and development of the initiative's three major program components. Also included in Phase I will be the creation and start-up of a Sustainable Communities Advisory Council.

 

Phase II will involve funding development and program initiation, and Phase III will involve planning for the programs' long term future. Phases I and II will be accomplished in the first two years of the demonstration cycle. Phase III will be accomplished during the last three years of the cycle.

 

Funding

Funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative will be provided through a variety of public and privates sources. To date, funds have been committed by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Appalachian Regional Commission and anonymous sources.

 

Progress to date

The Sustainable Communities Initiative is in its infancy, with the Rural Center and its partners beginning to shape the vision presented by the North Carolina Rural Prosperity Task Force.

 

In October 2000, the Sustainable Communities Advisory Council will be named to aid in establishing the initiative. The council will be made up of task force members, state and local government leaders, educational organizations serving rural areas, representatives of nonprofits reflecting diverse rural interests and representatives of groups that may be potential users of the initiative's programs. The council will initially serve to develop the framework for each of the initiative's major components.

 

LEADERSHIP

Civic Ventures Fund Grantees

Development Grants

Town of Burnsville: $5,000 for the next phase in the community's efforts to revitalize the historic town square.

Land of Sky Regional Council: $5,000 for the "Sense of Place" initiative to protect and restore the region's natural assets.

Alliance for Human Service, Partnership for Health and Designing our Future: $5,000 for cultural competency workshops and an outreach and education campaign.

Caldwell Community College: $5,000 for the Strengthening Families/Closing the Achievement Gap Task Force.

AVE! Chautauqua: $5,000 to develop and promote the Andrews Valley Experience heritage and cultural event.

Northwest Alliance Community Development Corporation: $5,000 to establish the CDC and improve its ability to serve an eight-county region in northwest North Carolina.

Town of Waynesville: $10,000 to hold a series of community charettes as part of its land use plan development process.

Helping Hands Cooperative Parish & The Hiddenite Center: $10,000 to create a comprehensive youth initiative and calendar of youth-centered events.

Implementation Grants

Center for Participatory Change: $25,000 to implement the Appalachian Farm Project with local grassroots organizations.

HandMade in America: $25,000 to provide technical assistance and training on project evaluation to 11 communities participating in the Small Towns program.

Town of Burnsville: $25,000 for streetscape improvements in downtown Burnsville.

Sylva Partners in Renewal: $25,000 for Phase II of the Mill Street revitalization project.

Mountain Valleys RC&D & Mountain Partners in Agriculture: $25,000 for the Get Fresh - Buy Appalachian campaign and a regional roundtable series.

Town of Fletcher: $25,000 for a sidewalk connection between the town park greenway trail and the Heart of Fletcher business district.

Madison County: $25,000 for revitalization efforts in the Rollins Community.

Partnerships for the Future: $25,000 for a director position to coordinate committees, move projects forward, and raise funds for the partnership's efforts.

Grant Programs

 

Economic Innovation Grants

The Economic Innovation Grants Program spurs business activity, job creation and public/private investment by supporting innovative economic development projects. Funds are provided by the North Carolina General Assembly and are available for local and regional projects in rural communities. Proposals are evaluated based on the innovative nature of the project and the project’s ability to generate measurable outcomes for business and job expansion.

 

The center accepted grant applications for projects in four areas:

  • Advanced manufacturing in rural communities.
  • Rural health care industry economic opportunities that support growth in higher skill, higher wage jobs and that have the potential to improve health outcomes in rural areas.  
  • Value-added processing for farmers, natural resource producers, and commercial fishing.
  • Innovative community economic development strategies that capitalize on the unique assets of a community to create jobs, grow incomes and strengthen local economies.


Grants of up to $100,000 were awarded in April 2013. Winning projects will have potential for economic impact within two years. The program required a 10 percent match for the funding requested. Half of the match must have been cash from non-federal and non-state sources.

Eligible applicants were units of local government, nonprofits and educational institutions located in one of North Carolina’s 85 rural counties. Also eligible were statewide and regional organizations and agencies applying on behalf of a project in a rural county.

 

Research & Demonstration Grants

The center’s research grants have provided funds to community, regional and state-level organizations to carry out promising research that addresses critical rural development issues. Results have included:

  • Alternative crops and markets for small farmers
  • Expansion of markets for the state’s crafts industry
  • Establishment of technical, apprenticeship and entrepreneurial training programs in the schools
  • Expansion of quality child care available to rural working families
  • Introduction of alternative water and wastewater systems
  • Expansion of regional solutions to rural solid waste problems
  • Sound models for distance learning and other rural telecommunications uses

 

Research grants are made on an invitation basis.

 

Contact

Brett Altman, senior policy associate, Economic Innovations Program

N.C. Rural Economic Development Center

4021 Carya Drive

Raleigh, NC 27610

Telephone: 919-250-4314

Fax: 919-250-4325

Tobacco-Dependent Communities Research Initiative

This article was posted in 2000.

 

Background

Tobacco has been closely tied to North Carolina's history, politics and economy for more than two centuries. It brings in $1 billion annually and is second only to hogs and poultry in farm sales. On the national level, North Carolina accounts for more than a third of the tobacco grown in the United States and more than half of the flue-cured tobacco.

 

Yet, tobacco communities in North Carolina are facing a number of challenges that will forever change tobacco's place in the state's economic and social landscape. Among these challenges are several multi-billion-dollar lawsuits either decided or pending against the tobacco industry—in particular, the $206 billion settlement signed in November 1998 between the cigarette manufacturers and the states' attorneys general.

 

Along with the lawsuits have come additional federal cutbacks in tobacco allotments (the right to grow tobacco), a decline in cigarette exports, an increase in federal and state cigarette excise taxes and an increasingly tough regulatory environment. Added to this situation are closures and layoffs at cigarette plants, warehouses, and stemming and redrying facilities.

 

To determine what these challenges will mean to North Carolina's tobacco-dependent communities, the Rural Center launched the North Carolina Tobacco-Dependent Communities Project in 1999 in collaboration with the state's leading tobacco and economic experts.

 

Project plan

The purpose of this three-step project is to identify changes taking place in the industry, to look at the impact of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement on rural communities and to develop recommendations for state and local action.

 

Step I. The first step, which began in May 1999, was to collect data and develop a model to analyze the changing economics of tobacco in North Carolina. The purpose of this work has been to provide policy leaders and others with the information they need to plan for the future and develop responses to changes as they unfold.

 

Step II. The second phase of the project, which began in the summer of 2000, focuses on outreach and public input. A series of regional workshops in August and September provided farmers, tobacco workers, community leaders, economic development specialists, health advocates and interested citizens an opportunity to help develop the plans and responses they feel are most appropriate and effective. The recommendations gathered at the workshops are to be presented to legislators, North Carolina's congressional delegation and local government leaders. They will also be presented to the boards of the Phase I tobacco settlement funds, including Golden LEAF Foundation, a nonprofit organization that will administer half of the state's tobacco settlement monies, which were set aside to aid tobacco-affected areas.

 

Step III. This phase, under way in fall of 2000, focuses on the development and analysis of policy options for local, regional, state and federal leadership, as well as North Carolina's leading philanthropic organizations and the newly created 1998 Tobacco Settlement organizations, including Golden LEAF Foundation, the Tobacco Trust Fund and the Health and Wellness Trust Fund.

 

Funding

Funding for the North Carolina Tobacco-Dependent Communities Project comes from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the United States Economic Development Administration.

 

Progress to date

Step I. In the wake of the 1998 settlement and other tobacco-related factors such as Hurricane Floyd's destruction of tobacco fields, the Rural Center study found that the state's tobacco communities could face the following economic impacts over the next three to five years:

  • A decline in cigarette production of nine to 17 percent
  • Tobacco production declines of 5 to 10 percent
  • A reduction in tobacco quota owner income of 1 to 2.4 percent
  • Total direct and indirect economic impacts to the state including:
    • Lost output (sales) of $2.2 to $4 billion annually (0.6 to 1.1 percent of the state total)
    • A permanent loss of between 14,500 and 26,700 jobs (0.3 to 0.6 percent of the state total)
    • Lost annual earnings between $403 million and $743 million (0.3 to 0.6 percent of the state total)

Within the context of the state's overall economy, the negative economic impact of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement is relatively small—less than 1 percent in many areas. In areas where tobacco remains a significant part of the local economy, however, the outlook is grimmer. Areas that are most dependent on tobacco leaf production, tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing will experience significant declines in their economies. The impact of the settlement on these towns and communities will be painful and recovery will be difficult and long term.

 

Step II. The workshops drew crowds of farmers, local residents and government officials who voiced some strong concerns, including the need to keep small farms strong, to care for older tobacco farmers and workers, and to maintain much-needed governmental services for local citizens. The concern for older tobacco workers and farmers centered on the challenge of retraining for new jobs in agriculture or other businesses. The average age of tobacco farmers in North Carolina is 56.

 

Economic development and local government officials who attended the sessions expressed their desire to help farmers who want to leave farming to move into other kinds of work. Some officials said they're worried about the possibility of declining local tax bases while many residents of tobacco-dependent communities are going to need increased governmental services.

 

Comments during the Ahoskie workshop, which addressed issues facing African-American and minority farmers and communities, focused on the possibility of co-ops, other crop development and new approaches to local and regional marketing.

 

In western counties where tobacco is grown mainly as a secondary income source, farmers were interest in finding reasonable alternative crops or converting to organic production techniques. Another possibility that was discussed in the western workshops was "buy-local" initiatives, which through marketing and co-ops, local grocery stores would be encouraged to purchase from local farmers.

 

Those attending the workshop in Winston-Salem expressed their concern for preserving the cultural and historical legacy of tobacco through heritage tourism. Another concern for the Triad area is that because of its historic reliance on an old economy structure, including tobacco farming and furniture manufacturing, it will be difficult to convert to a new economy structure, including high technology jobs.

 

Next Steps

Step III. Information gathered during the workshops will be presented in report form to the North Carolina General Assembly, local government officials, the state's congressional delegation and the trust funds that will administer the state's tobacco settlement monies. Reports on the workshops also will be sent to workshop participants.

 

The Rural Center is also working with economists and economic development experts at UNC-Chapel Hill and agriculture economists at North Carolina State University to develop economic models, which will form the basis of tobacco-related policy options. This work is slated to be finished by February 2001.

 

Tobacco Advisory Committee

The tobacco advisory committee was formed in 1999 to examine the changes facing the tobacco industry, specifically the impacts of the 1998 Tobacco Settlement. Members include:

W. David Austin, Research Triangle Institute; Betty Bailey, RAFI; Johnny Bailey, N.C. Department of Revenue; Rolf Blizzard, Office of the President Pro Tem, N.C. Senate; Richard Bostic, Fiscal Research Division of the N.C. General Assembly; A. Blake Brown, NCSU Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Michael Brown, RAFI; Billy Caldwell, Cooperative Extension Service; W.K. Collins, N.C. Agricultural Extension Service; Kevin Cook, Governor's Policy Office; Harry Daniel, N.C. Department of Agriculture; Peter Daniel, N.C. Farm Bureau; LeAnn Davis, N.C. Department of Commerce; Ferrel Guillory, School of Journalism and Mass Communications at UNC-CH; Arnold Hamm, Flu-Cured Tobacco Stabilization; Ed Jones, NCSU; Akhtar Khan, Employment Security Commission; Mike Kiltie, State Budget and Management; Don Liner, Institute of Government; Donald McDowell, N.C. A&T University; Bill McNeil, N.C. Department of Commerce; Norma Ware Mills, Office of the President Pro Tem of the N.C. Senate; Thomas A. Sabel, U.S. Department of Agriculture; David J. Sullivan, N.C. Community College System; Rebecca Troutman, N.C. Association of County Commissioners; and William Upchurch, N.C. Department of Agriculture.

 

Read the Rural Center's report, "Tobacco in North Carolina: What's in store for our economy, our communities?"

Communities of Faith Initiative

This article was updated in 2001.

 

Working across denominational and racial lines to address the needs of rural people, especially those living in or near poverty, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center launched the Communities of Faith Initiative in 1993. The purpose of the initiative was to build an alliance among the most prevalent, powerful institutions in rural communities - rural churches - to support those most in need. Under the Communities of Faith umbrella, the Rural Center conducted several projects, the most important of which were the Church Child Care Initiative and the Work First Job Retention and Follow-Up Model Program.

 

Church Child Care Initiative

To address the growing need for accessible, affordable, high quality child care in rural communities, the Rural Center joined with leaders of the faith community in 1993 to form North Carolina's first partnership for children. The partnership is an inter-denominational, inter-racial group of 12 leading denominations, the N.C. Council of Churches, the Duke Divinity School and the Duke Endowment and the Rural Center.

 

Together, these groups have developed a Church Child Care Initiative, which, for almost a decade, has served low and moderate-income families in rural areas by:

  • Providing technical assistance to individuals wishing to develop, expand or improve child care programs in rural churches
  • Providing a loan guarantee program for churches and others in economically distressed areas who seek capital for child care facilities, equipment and other needs
  • Sponsoring a statewide Church Child Care Policy Forum for religious leaders
  • Sponsoring an annual workshop series at sites throughout the state for churches interested in developing child care programs
  • Publishing and distributing "A Child at the Door," a comprehensive guidebook for starting and running a church-based child care program
  • Sponsoring an annual statewide Church Child Care conference

Working across denominational and racial lines to address the needs of rural people, especially those living in or near poverty, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center launched the Communities of Faith Initiative in 1993. The purpose of the initiative was to build an alliance among the most prevalent, powerful institutions in rural communities - rural churches - to support those most in need. Under the Communities of Faith umbrella, the Rural Center conducted several projects, the most important of which were the Church Child Care Initiative and the Work First Job Retention and Follow-Up Model Program.

 

Work First Job Retention and Follow-up Model Program

The groundwork for this project was laid in March 1997 with a two-day Communities of Faith Conference sponsored by the Rural Center, the Duke Endowment and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Attending the conference were more than a hundred church leaders who came to explore the role rural churches play in the welfare reform movement. Other events followed, during which interest escalated. These events included a second conference in 1998, meetings among foundation leaders to discuss the role of philanthropic organizations in welfare reform and meetings with the N.C. Division of Social Services to discuss the possibility of creating a multi-agency initiative for assisting welfare families.

 

In March 1999, the Rural Center entered into a contractual partnership with the N.C. Division of Social Services to initiate a church-based pilot program designed to support rural families as they moved from welfare to work. The goals of the program are to help those participating in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program to attain and maintain self-sufficiency through job retention, family support services and pre- and post-TANF follow-up.

 

To put the program into action, the Rural Center made "faith demonstration awards" to faith-based organizations that are now testing new ideas and serving local TANF recipients at sites throughout North Carolina. Following is a summary of the projects now being undertaken by these groups.

  • Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministry - The ministry, which in the past provided basic necessities for needy families, has expanded its services to include assessing individual job readiness, initiating a case management program to help families move from welfare to work and facilitating transportation services for those families. The initiative focuses on five western North Carolina counties.


  • The Christian Women's Job Corps - Launched by the Women's Missionary Union of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Christian Women's Job Corps develops one-on-one mentoring programs to help women break out of the cycle of poverty through mentoring, job training and job placement. The Job Corps currently has five operational sites and is working to establish program at six more sites.

  • Catholic Social Ministries - A nonprofit agency serving 54 counties through seven regional offices and several family support sites, Catholic Social Ministries has initiated a Working Families Partners program. This program creates teams of volunteers from churches to help families in need, as identified by local social services departments. So far, the program has trained 95 volunteers and is operating in Brunswick, New Hanover, Wake, Johnston, Cumberland, Lee and Craven counties.

  • The Jobs Partnership - Building on local partnerships between the faith and business communities, the Jobs Partnership emphasizes job retention, family support services, mentoring and transportation models, as well as an innovative technology training program. The Jobs Partnership Program is operating in Vance, Granville and Wake counties.

  • The TANF Faith Collaborative - Representing the A.M.E. A.M.E.Z., GBSC and UMC/BMCR churches, this collaborative has initiated computer-assisted instruction pilot programs in 15 counties. Other collaborative efforts include the Cornerstone Lifestyle Innovations for Employment Program and the St. Paul's Employment Institute, which has initiated 21 replication sites in 12 additional counties.

  • Women's Missionary Union's Christian Women's Job Corps - The Christian Women's Job Corps, modeled after an initiative under way in Alabama, centers on one woman helping one woman break the cycle of poverty. The program provides long-term mentoring services by encouraging Christian women, through the Job Corps, to pair up with Work First families, making a commitment of at least one year, to help them transition into the workforce.

  • Faith Empowerment Community Consortium - The consortium consists of more than 200 houses of workshop and faith-based organizations in 11 counties and represents 12 denominations. It provides training, mentoring and job placement assistance for recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds.

  • Welfare Reform Liaison Project, Inc. - The Welfare Reform Project offers a 12-week program that includes a mix of classroom experiences, on the job training and intensive casework. A central component of the program is the distribution job training center that receives, inventories and disseminates corporate donations to families, churches and non-profit organizations.

  • Truth in Youth and Family Services/Southeastern Empowerment To Work Program - Truth in Youth is a community resource center that provides crisis management and referral services for families that receive Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds. The program provides an after-school counseling and work program in Brunswick County and works with single moms, economically disadvantaged women and others in Columbus, Bladen and Brunswick counties.

Representatives from these programs, along with the Rural Center and the Division of Social Services, make up a working committee for the Work First Initiative. Each quarter, the committee shares its experiences, facilitates collaborations among programs, and provides insights, which will be presented in a final report.

 

The Work First initiative provides technical assistance, organizational development and project oversight to faith-based organizations involved in the initiative. In turn, the faith communities provide much-needed personal attention and support to families struggling to find and keep living-wage jobs.

 

Funding

Financial support for the Communities of Faith Initiative has come from the Duke Endowment, the Grant Fund of New York and the North Carolina Division of Social Services.

 

Sustainable Communities Initiative

This article was posted in 2000.

 

Background

In recent months, North Carolina's state-level leadership has committed itself to an ambitious agenda for rural advancement. This agenda includes initiatives to give young children a strong start in life, to ensure Internet access statewide, to build and improve community water and sewer systems, to invest in promising rural businesses and to reinvigorate agriculture.

 

As impressive and far-reaching as they are, these initiatives alone cannot bring new vitality to rural North Carolina. To be successful in the 21st century, rural communities must be able to create a clear vision for their own future. They must have a commitment to broad involvement in decision-making; an understanding of the dynamic balance among economic opportunity, social well being and environmental quality; and the ability to anticipate and plan for the long-term future.

 

While North Carolina's rural communities have long been blessed with committed, hard-working leaders, many do not have the necessary resources to plan strategically for the future they desire. In response, the North Carolina Rural Prosperity Task Force recommended in February 2000 a Sustainable Communities Initiative to equip rural communities with the tools they need to meet the economic, social, educational, civic and environmental challenges of the new century. The task force directed the Rural Center to champion and coordinate the effort.

 

Project overview

The Rural Center began development of the Sustainable Communities Initiative in the spring of 2000 with the following goals:

  • To increase access to leadership development opportunities for rural leaders, particularly those who live and work in distressed communities;
  • To increase access to technical assistance and financial resources that help rural communities build internal capacity for the development of sustainable economies and communities;
  • To increase community capacity to solve multidimensional problems through the use of inclusive problem-solving and planning processes; and
  • To increase community ability to develop and implement sustainable economic development projects in distressed communities.

Toward this end, the Sustainable Communities Initiative is being designed around the following three components:

 

A rural leadership development fund. The objective of the Leadership Opportunities Fund will be to provide needs-based scholarships to present and future rural leaders who wish to participate in leadership development programs. Emphasis will be placed on programs that provide training in community collaboration and comprehensive economic development. As a first step, the Rural Center will conduct an assessment to identify community leadership needs and eligible leadership programs.

 

A rural technical assistance program. The Civic Enterprise Planning and Support Program will serve to help rural communities undertake collaborative and comprehensive planning to solve local problems and to connect to an array of resources and services. The program is an outgrowth of the work undertaken by MDC Inc. with the support of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and the involvement of state, nonprofit and community organizations.

 

A model civic venture fund. The Civic Venture Fund will provide a dedicated source of grant money to help communities implement projects that address multiple, integrated issues and result in sustainable enterprises and communities. The fund will support projects that can demonstrate a clear return on the investment—including civic, economic, social, environmental and educational returns.

 

Timeline

The initiative will be divided into three major steps to take place over five years.

 

Phase I will involve planning and development of the initiative's three major program components. Also included in Phase I will be the creation and start-up of a Sustainable Communities Advisory Council.

 

Phase II will involve funding development and program initiation, and Phase III will involve planning for the programs' long term future. Phases I and II will be accomplished in the first two years of the demonstration cycle. Phase III will be accomplished during the last three years of the cycle.

 

Funding

Funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative will be provided through a variety of public and privates sources. To date, funds have been committed by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Appalachian Regional Commission and anonymous sources.

 

Progress to date

The Sustainable Communities Initiative is in its infancy, with the Rural Center and its partners beginning to shape the vision presented by the North Carolina Rural Prosperity Task Force.

 

In October 2000, the Sustainable Communities Advisory Council will be named to aid in establishing the initiative. The council will be made up of task force members, state and local government leaders, educational organizations serving rural areas, representatives of nonprofits reflecting diverse rural interests and representatives of groups that may be potential users of the initiative's programs. The council will initially serve to develop the framework for each of the initiative's major components.