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RALEIGH – The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) has awarded the NC Rural Center a  $100,000 grant to increase regional leadership development in North Carolina’s 29 Appalachian counties. 
The grant will allow the Rural Center to expand its Homegrown Leaders program, an initiative to develop and support highly-skilled, highly-motivated leaders who are committed to building regional collaboration across multi-county regions in North Carolina. 

“Thanks to the support of the Appalachian Regional Commission, we will be able to provide training opportunities to current and emerging leaders in rural Appalachia,” said Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. “The Rural Center has a long history of supporting and nurturing rural leadership in North Carolina. This grant will allow us to help these 29 counties develop and support a diverse group of leaders who are committed to bringing about positive change in their communities and region.”

The Rural Center will host a series of three-day leadership and economic development trainings over the next two years for 180 participants in the ARC region. The program is open to government staff, nonprofit and faith-based leaders, business leaders, economic development professionals, and other community-minded individuals in the 29-county ARC region.

“Participants in the Homegrown Leaders training will develop partnership building skills; gain a better understanding of regional economic and demographic trends; and leave equipped with practical strategies for rural economic and community development,” said Misty Herget, the Rural Center’s senior director of programs.

The Rural Center plans to work with a diverse group of regional partners to promote the program. The Rural Center will partner with regional Councils of Government, universities, and community colleges in the region to sponsor trainings, recruit participants, and share community success stories.

The Homegrown Leaders program is the regional extension of the Rural Center’s 27-year-old flagship leadership development program, the Rural Economic Development Institute (REDI). Graduates of Homegrown Leaders become part of the Center’s leadership alumni network, which provides annual professional development and peer networking with nearly 1,200 rural leaders from across the state.

Leaders from the following counties will be eligible to apply: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Davie, Forsyth, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, McDowell, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Stokes, Surry, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin, and Yancey.

Visit the Rural Center’s website ( to sign up for newsletter announcements about the program and the start of the application submission period.


About the NC Rural Center
For 30 years, the NC Rural Center has worked to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Center serves the state’s 80 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.

For media inquiries:
Todd Brantley
Senior Director of Public Affairs
NC Rural Center
[email protected]

For program inquiries:
Misty Herget
Senior Director of Programs
NC Rural Center
[email protected]


Download  ARC Homegrown Leaders Press Release.