Community economic development organizations from across North Carolina convened in Raleigh May 17 to explore strategies for catalyzing economic growth and prosperity in the low-income and hard-hit communities they serve.
Keynote speaker Anita Brown-Graham, director of the Institute for Emerging Issues, challenged leaders of the N.C. Community Development Initiative’s grantee organizations to develop new models of doing business to serve their communities, create jobs and sustain their work. Initiative leaders announced a new financial investment strategy to support them in doing so.
“You are miracle workers,” Brown-Graham said. “But you must up your game when it comes to turning water into wine. As government does less…somebody is going to have to step up and be responsible for those problems.”
Brown-Graham’s remarks kicked off the spring retreat for the 27 recipients of the Initiative’s 2012 grant programs. The Initiative makes strategic financial investments in community organizations that promote economic growth in low-income and distressed N.C. communities and provides leadership development and technical assistance to support them.
“I think there are opportunities for community-based organizations, just like yours, to become the kind of social innovation organizations that people are talking about as the way of the future,” Brown-Graham said. “These are organizations that are somewhere in the middle. They are not-for-profit organizations that also know how to run, with business savvy, some kind of enterprise that will return funding back into your organization.”
The Initiative’s new financial investment strategy is designed to promote entrepreneurial and innovative approaches to strengthening low-income communities, said Millie Brobston, the Initiative’s program officer for grant investments. Brobston described plans for the Initiative’s new Community Enterprise Fund that launches June 1 and will guide grant awards beginning in 2013.
The spring retreat sessions focused on strategic planning for business planning, fundraising, communications and community engagement to support innovation. Session leaders were:
- Business Planning: Valerie Fields, CEO of V.K. Fields & Company in Raleigh
- Communications Planning: Cyndy Falgout, president of Cyndy Falgout Inc. in Durham
- Community Engagement: Erin Byrd, civic engagement director for Blueprint NC in Raleigh, and Jenn Frye, associate director of Democracy NC in Durham
- Fundraising: Gail Perry, president of Gail Perry Associates in Raleigh
The Initiative’s 2012 grantees are:
- Brick Capital Community Development Corp., Sanford
- Cape Fear Regional Community Development Corp., Wilmington
- Center for Economic Empowerment & Development, Fayetteville
- Cleveland County Community Development Corp., Shelby
- Community Housing Development Corporation of Mooresville/South Iredell, Mooresville
- Davidson Housing Coalition, Davidson
- Durham Community Land Trustees Inc., Durham
- East Carolina Community Development Inc., Beaufort
- EmPOWERment Inc., Chapel Hill
- Goler Community Development Corp., Winston-Salem
- HandMade in America, Asheville
- Housing Assistance Corporation, Hendersonville
- Kingdom Community Development Corp., Fayetteville
- Lexington Housing Community Development Corp., Lexington
- Liberty Community Development Corp., Winston-Salem
- Monroe-Union County Community Development Corp., Monroe
- Mountain Housing Opportunities, Asheville
- Northeastern Community Development Corp., Camden
- Outer Banks Community Development Corp., Kill Devil Hills
- Passage Home Inc., Raleigh
- Prosperity Unlimited Inc., Kannapolis
- Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corp., Goldsboro
- Robeson County Community Development Corp. Inc., Rowland
- Rocky Mount/Edgecombe Community Development Corp., Rocky Mount
- UDI Community Development Corp., Durham
- Unity Builders Inc., High Point
- Wilson Community Improvement Association, Wilson
The N.C. Community Development Initiative leads North Carolina’s collaborative community economic development effort, driving innovation, investment and action to create prosperous, sustainable communities. For more information, visit www.ncinitiative.org.