For immediate release (11/18/11)
Media contact: Garnet Bass, director of communications, 919-250-4314
RALEIGH, N.C. -- A new initiative designed to engage rural youth and young adults in the life of their communities will launch in January, marking the beginnings of a multimillion dollar effort that will touch thousands of young people across the state.
The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center announced the three-year, $3.6 million project Thursday during the 2011 Rural Partners Forum.
“This is transformational,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said at the event. “If we get young people involved and help them understand the opportunities to stay in place, we transform all of North Carolina, but especially rural North Carolina.”
The New Generation Initiative will provide rural communities with the resources to reach out to youth and young adults, while creating skilled workers, mentoring the next generation of business owners and fostering economic and community leaders.
It is supported by public and private partners and will be guided by the New Generation Advisory Council, made up of rural economic and community leaders.
“This is about building a foundation to grow North Carolina’s rural areas,” said Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, who will chair the council. ”It is about making our communities stronger. It is about challenging our young people to make a difference in rural North Carolina. It’s about challenging adults to assist them.”
Earlier during the forum, Rural Center President Billy Ray Hall noted that over the last two decades 54 rural counties lost population in the 24- to 30-year-old age group. Furthermore, he said, 16 rural counties lost more than 20 percent of their young adult population.
“We have to give them a reason to stay,” he said. “We have to create jobs that will allow them to earn a living and support a family. We have to continue to build an educational system that will prepare them and their children for the future. We have enhance the quality of life. And most of all, we have to listen to what they have to say, engage them in identifying solutions and then act on what they tell us.”
The New Generation Initiative addresses those points through four distinct programs, touching on entrepreneurship, training for available career opportunities, leadership development and community service. Specifically:
New Generation Ventures aims to make self-employment an attractive and attainable career option for young adults, ages 18-30. It will support young entrepreneurs by providing scholarships for business-related training, business counseling, networking opportunities and access to new forms of business capital tailored to the specific needs of young business owners.
New Generation Careers will encourage young adults to develop careers close to home while engaging rural businesses to cultivate local talent pools. It will provide grants to assist 10 communities with the development of locally based strategies to fill and create jobs in high-demand fields. The project will feature apprenticeships, on-the-job training and wage subsidies to help employers make new hires.
New Generation Leaders will award challenge grants to stimulate the formation of high-energy youth and young adult action teams in rural communities. Through the action teams, young people ages 16 to 30 will work together and with established leadership to design and implement a project aimed at attracting and retaining young adults in the community. Thirty grants will be awarded over three years.
New Generation Communities will provide high-quality resources and training programs for rural communities that seek to more fully engage youth and young adults in economic and community life. A 160-page youth engagement resource directory offers information on national, state and local resources for communities seeking to launch or expand local initiatives. A series of training programs will provide how-to information on such topics working with at-risk youth, fostering entrepreneurship and creating a welcoming.
Hall said that by January 2015, the program will have worked directly with nearly 2,000 rural young people, helped 100 young rural entrepreneurs start their own businesses and involved 3,750 young people in community improvement projects.
New Generation Funding Partners: N.C. General Assembly, BB&T, First Citizens Bank, Appalachian Regional Commission, Golden Corral, North Carolina's Electric Cooperatives, Wells Fargo, N.C. Association of County Commissioners.
New Generation Advisory Council: Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, chair; N.C. Rep. Carolyn Justice, vice chair; Valeria Lee, Rural Center board chair; Andy Anderson, Community Innovations Inc.; June Atkinson, N.C. Department of Public Instruction; Mike Atkinson, First Citizens Bank; Leslie Boney, University of North Carolina; Anita Brown-Graham, Institute for Emerging Issues; Olivia Collier, Appalachian Regional Commission; Paul Cuadros, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs; Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF Foundation; Tony Habit, N.C. New Schools Project; Ellis Hankins, N.C. League of Municipalities; Andrea Harris, Institute of Minority Economic Development; Tony Hayes, N.C. Indian Economic Development Commission; Nelle Hotchkiss, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives; Ray Jeffers, Person County Board of Commissioners; Easter Maynard, Golden Corral; David Mayo, Small Business and Technology Development Center; Lloyd Payne, City of Elkin; Scott Ralls, N.C. Community College System; Mikki Sager, The Conservation Fund; Roger Shackleford, Workforce Development, N.C. Department of Commerce; Ashley Sherrill, Economic Development, Montgomery County; Joe Stanley, Joe and Moe’s Auto Service; Marshall Stewart, N.C. Cooperative Extension; David Thompson, N.C. Association of County Commissioners; Steve Troxler, N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; Robert R. Webb, The Duke Endowment-Rural Church Program; Leon Wilson, BB&T; Gregory Winkler, Wells Fargo; Larry Wooten, N.C. Farm Bureau.
The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. The center operates a multifaceted program that includes conducting research into rural issues; testing promising rural development strategies; advocating for policy and program innovations; and building the productive capacity of rural leaders, entrepreneurs and community organizations.