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2020 Advocacy Priorities

The Rural Center’s advocacy platform, Rural Counts: 10 Strategies for Rural North Carolina’s Future, presents a framework for creating a stronger rural economy in the context of a rapidly changing state. Within these strategies, the Rural Center will concentrate its advocacy efforts in 2020 on broadband, health care, and entrepreneurship.


Expand Accessible, Affordable High-Speed Broadband

  • Provide increased funding, for implementation and administration of the broadband grant program,
    Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT), to greatly expand eligibility, accessibility
    and adoption
  • Establish a statewide broadband definition to support efforts to accurately map broadband availability
  • Encourage public-private partnerships by clarifying the ability of local governments to raise and spend
    funds for broadband infrastructure and to lease existing assets to private and non-profit to help expand
    broadband to the last mile
  • Operationalize the state-level ‘dig once’ policy to cut costs and increase efficiency in laying broadband
  • Address broadband adoption rates by establishing an incentive-based program to provide low-cost
    options in underserved areas, fund technology access and digital literacy programs, and explores a
    subsidy program for low-income households


Stabilize and Transform Rural Health

  • Close the health insurance coverage gap in North Carolina
  • Expand efforts to recruit and retain rural health providers, including specialists in underserved areas
    of the state
  • Implement recommendations for a statewide telemedicine policy made by DHHS in 2017
  • Investigate opportunities to attract mid-level health care providers to rural areas by allowing full
    practice authority and increasing scope of practice
  • Explore broad-based solutions for the substance abuse crisis that address both prevention and
  • Support the Healthy North Carolina 2030 attainment goals that seek to holistically address and
    improve the health, safety, and well-being of North Carolinians


Invest in Stronger Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Systems

  • Adopt a statewide small business agenda that fully addresses the needs of entrepreneurs and small
    businesses, with special attention on underserved areas, people of color, veterans and women small
    business owners
  • Promote responsible practice in the non-bank small business lending sector to create greater
    transparency and fairness for potential borrowers
  • Balance state economic development efforts with an added emphasis on supporting entrepreneurs
    and retaining existing firms
  • Address regulatory barriers that hinder entrepreneurs from starting and growing businesses
  • Increase funding and coordination of technical assistance for rural communities nurturing small
    business development and downtown revitalization
  • Support long-term disaster recovery and resiliency through improving small business support and
    strategic planning


In addition to these top priorities, the Rural Center will continue to work collaboratively with our state and local partners on policies to support all 10 Rural Counts strategies.