ECU program wins first place in national competition

An East Carolina University program that works to stimulate the economy in distressed portions of the state won first place for excellence in the University Economic Development Association’s national competition in Indianapolis.

The ECU Community Enhancement and Economic Transformation Initiative received the top award in the excellence in the leadership and collaboration category.

The winning initiative is a multi-tiered approach to regional transformation that includes the ECU Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development’s Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building program, a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Municipal Management and Innovation initiative. Kenny Flowers, director of community and regional engagement, presented on the programs.

The Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building program supports activities that stimulate economic transformation in distressed communities across the state, including the town of Aurora and the counties of Beaufort, Edgecombe, Hyde, Jones, Pamlico and Pitt. A recently announced $700,000 expansion by the N.C. Department of Commerce will enable support for an additional 15 communities.

The Municipal Management and Innovation initiative engages directly with small, limited-resource municipalities to address issues related to local administrative capacity and public service delivery. Towns served through this program include Aurora, Bayboro, Grifton, Hookerton, Pollocksville, Snow Hill and South Mills.

Both programs provide communities with economic development products, technical assistance and financial resources that help increase competitiveness and build stronger, more vibrant and more capable communities.

Participating communities engage directly with the university, gaining access to a network of faculty, staff and students who help build a customized, targeted response for each community. ECU has established 29 partnerships with communities across the state

Flowers said the national recognition is one that the university shares with partners across the state and region. “I believe it validates our community partners’ commitment to long-term collaboration with the university, while endorsing ECU’s broader focus on regional economic transformation,” he said.

“It will certainly benefit our engagement efforts as we move forward,” Flowers said.

“This award recognizes…the university’s significant commitment to foster vibrant and livable communities as part of our mission as a national model for public service and regional transformation,” said Associate Vice Chancellor Ted Morris, Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development