What is NC Tomorrow?
The North Carolina Association of Regional Councils led a collaborative partnership with assistance from the US Economic Development Administration, North Carolina Department of Commerce -Division of Community Development and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development to create the NC Statewide Strategy for Comprehensive Community and Economic Development.
The first initiative was to conduct uniform Regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS) across North Carolina. These regionally significant CEDS then served as the foundation to create the NC Statewide Strategy for Comprehensive Community and Economic Development that can help to shape an economically sustainable economy for North Carolina while helping to build our communities for tomorrow’s jobs.
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The NC Tomorrow initiative has been a two-year process for the Association and the collaborative partners. The Association will now move to the “implementation” phase of the work as funds become available and additional partners are identified to help lead and provide the resources necessary to carry out the strategies in the plan.
Funding for the NC Tomorrow initiative came from the federal Economic Development Administration and the NC Department of Commerce – Division of Community Development through the NC Catalyst Program of the CDBG funds program. NC Commerce provided planning grants to non-entitlement local governments within each of the 16 Councils of Government (COGs) regions. While the Regional Councils led the effort to create the Regional CEDS, the non-entitlement local unit of government fostered regional, multi-jurisdictional participation around the program goals and assisted in the development of the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that was used to build the foundation for the NC Strategy for Comprehensive Community and Economic Development.
The North Carolina Rural Center provided for funding that launched a portion of the strategy to create the NC Water Infrastructure Network. The first phase of that strategy provided the funding for four small towns to develop digital plans for their existing water and sewer infrastructure, making it easier for those communities to maintain and upgrade those facilities. The Association hope to secure funding to expand the program into other small towns across North Carolina.
Duke Energy provided funding for survey software that was used in the planning process on the local level. The Association also invested in software from ESRI – Community Analyst, that was used in the regional CEDS across the state. That software is now available for the regional councils use when and where their local communities have the need for either community or economic development initiatives.
The NC Strategy was also shaped by the Six Livability Principles established by the EPA, HUD & DOT Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the Six Investment Principles set forth by the federal Economic Development Administration and the NADO CEDS Standards of Excellence. The planning process included all sectors of the economic development community, including local, regional and state economic developers, planners, private industry, educational institutions, elected officials and many other community organizations that work on the ground to make North Carolina a great place to live, work and play.
The Association and its partners have aspired to develop a strong foundation for common- sense development and growth that will create jobs for our citizens while conserving the natural resources that make North Carolina the special place it has always been, a place where companies can thrive and where families want to live.