Bertie and Hertford counties are among 19 rural communities chosen for a new state-led initiative to help increase the planning, implementation and management of economic development programs and opportunities.
The Rural Community Capacity, or RC2, program is a pilot effort of the North Carolina Department of Commerce involving Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business, the state announced last week.
The first group of participants was welcomed on May 24 in Boone.
“As we build on the success of North Carolina’s economic development, we must ensure that the success is shared between urban and rural communities across our state,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement. “This program will strengthen the ability of local governments in rural communities to secure large economic projects and support the North Carolina economy.”
The RC2 program, part of the Department of Commerce’s broader Rural Transformation Grants program, provides educational programs, technical assistance and counseling to local government staff in rural and struggling communities.
Funding can go to downtowns affected by the pandemic, removing and remediating environmental contaminants or hazards from vacant or abandoned properties by the public sector and cleaning up vacant land.
“Our rural communities can become stronger and more vibrant places to live and work, but to achieve this goal, we must strengthen the capacity of local governments to plan and execute proven economic development strategies,” said the Secretary. at Commerce of North Carolina, Machelle Baker Sanders. “This new program, part of Commerce’s efforts to transform rural economies, will provide local governments and their staff with the education, technical assistance and implementation grants they need to succeed.”
As part of the RC2 process, communities have access to the Department of Commerce’s rural planning team for additional training and technical assistance, including a strategic planning process focused on identifying assets and development priorities economy specific to each community.
Communities that complete the RC2 campus program and participate in the rural planning process will then be eligible to apply for community implementation grants offered by the Division of Rural Economic Development through the new Rural Transformation Grants Fund.
“Success in economic development requires intentional preparation,” said Assistant Secretary for Rural Development Kenny Flowers. “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.”
Other communities participating in the program include Martin County and the cities of Archdale, Carthage, China Grove, East Spencer, Garysburg, Hildebran, Jonesville, Liberty, Mars Hill, Marshville, Maysville, Pilot Mountain, Rosman, Spruce Pine, Vass and Wilson’s Mills. .
More information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund and the Rural Communities Capacity Initiative is available at nccommerce.com/transform.