RALEIGH, N.C. – Nineteen rural communities from across the state, including Bertie County and Martin County, have been selected to participate in a unique new program to increase their capacity to plan, implement, and manage economic development programs and opportunities.
The Rural Community Capacity program, a pilot initiative from the Commerce Department involving Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business, was scheduled to welcome its first cohort of participants in Boone Tuesday.
“As we build on North Carolina’s economic development success, we must make sure that success is shared among both urban and rural communities across our state,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “This program will strengthen the ability of local governments in rural communities to secure major economic projects and bolster North Carolina’s economy.”
The RC2 program, part of Commerce’s broader Rural Transformation Grant program, will provide educational programming, technical assistance, and focused guidance to local government staff in rural and distressed communities. Each of the nineteen jurisdictions can identify up to two representatives to participate in program activities, which include on-campus and virtual classes, community-level engagement, and targeted training programs. RC2 campus curriculum will include four core courses that are required by the Department of Commerce and additional targeted courses that are designed by the ASU faculty.
“Our rural communities can become stronger and more vibrant places to live and work, but to reach that goal we must build up local governments’ capacity to plan and execute proven economic development strategies,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “This new program, part of Commerce’s efforts to transform rural economies, will equip local governments and their staffs with the education, technical assistance, and implementation grants they need to succeed.”
During an RC2 engagement, communities have direct access to Commerce’s Rural Planning team, who offer additional training and technical assistance to program participants, including a strategic planning process focused on identifying economic development assets and priorities that are specific to each community.
Communities that successfully complete the RC2 campus curriculum and participate in the Commerce rural planning process will then be eligible to apply for Community Implementation Grants offered by Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division through the new Rural Transformation Grant Fund.
The nineteen communities participating in the Rural Community Capacity (RC2) program include:
- Bertie County
- Hertford County
- Martin County
- Town of Archdale
- Town of Carthage
- Town of China Grove
- Town of East Spencer
- Town of Garysburg
- Town of Hildebran
- Town of Jonesville
- Town of Liberty
- Town of Mars Hill
- Town of Marshville
- Town of Maysville
- Town of Pilot Mountain
- Town of Rosman
- Town of Spruce Pine
- Town of Vass
- Town of Wilson Mills
“Success in economic development takes intentional preparation,” said Kenny Flowers, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Rural Development. “We know the approaches that work well and lay the groundwork for success, and we’re excited to share these best practices with more local government officials.”
More information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund and the Rural Community Capacity initiative is available at nccommerce.com/transform.