MAY 27, 2011 – Unprecedented economic challenges, new public spending priorities and a widening wealth and income gap between the poorest and wealthiest people and communities prompted N.C.’s community economic development sector to convene for three days in May to plan how to continue driving economic growth in the state’s poorest communities.
“This is an important time for all of us,” said Leslie Winner, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, which invests heavily in N.C. community economic development. “The gaps are widening and we need to work together to narrow them.”
The Initiative, N.C. Association of Community Development Corporations and N.C. Rural Economic Development Center teamed to plan and host the Leadership Institute in Greensboro.
Community economic development organizations, funding agencies and partners from business, government, academia and the nonprofit sector participated in panel discussions and work groups to determine how best to move forward with the work of revitalizing N.C. communities in the wake of the Great Recession, given the severe cuts in state and federal funding for community economic development.
Among the recommendations was a consensus to refocus and retool practice, partnership and structures to meet the challenges created by this new norm:
- Practice – Innovating through better use of technology, stronger business plans and new ventures.
- Partnerships – Deepening alliances and alignment among all of the public, private and nonprofit partners engaged in community economic development and whose support and participation are critical for success.
- Structures – Examining economies of scale through creative approaches, from bundling services offered by community organizations to shifting work regionally through collaboration or merger.
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