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2019 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 2019 on broadband, health care, and entrepreneurship.


Expand Accessible, Affordable High-Speed Broadband

  • Provide additional funding for and make improvements to the broadband grant program, Growing Rural Economies with Access toTechnology (GREAT), to foster and expand competition and innovation in deploying broadband to the last mile.
  • 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 partners.
  • Implement a state-level “dig once” policy to cut costs and increase efficiency in laying broadband infrastructure.
  • Explore an internet adoption initiative that offers incentives for low-cost options in underserved areas, funds 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 care providers in underserved areas of the state. Implement the telehealth recommendations made by DHHS to the Joint Legislative
  • Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services.
  • 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 treatment.



Invest in Stronger Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Systems

  • 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 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.