Community and Regional Development program is semifinalist for national award

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, has recognized East Carolina University as a semifinalist in this year’s Innovations in American Government Awards competition.

ECU’s Community and Regional Development program will compete to be named a finalist in the competition and have the chance to be awarded $100,000 in Cambridge this spring.

The Community and Regional Development program advanced from a pool of more than 500 applications from all 50 states and was selected by the Innovations Award evaluators as an example of novel and effective action that has had significant impact and that they believe can be replicated across the country and the world.

“We are humbled and excited about this opportunity. ECU has a commitment to student success, public service and regional transformation. This selection shows that our commitments aren’t hollow words but actions. We have a community to serve, and we take that responsibility seriously,” said Dr. Cecil Staton, chancellor of ECU.

ECU’s Community and Regional Development program proactively targets distressed, low-wealth and limited capacity communities with economic development products, technical assistance and financial resources that can help increase competitiveness and build stronger, more vibrant and capable communities.

Since 2010, the program has facilitated $2.7 million of investments in eastern North Carolina communities, leveraged $24 million for community projects, established 61 formal community partnerships, completed 32 locally driven community development projects and offered 98 Community Capacity Building training sessions.

“We have an innovative program that is showing tangible results,” said Kenny Flowers, assistant vice chancellor for community and regional development at ECU. “Along with our partners, we are investing resources, but more importantly, we are training those who are directly responsible for eastern North Carolina communities. Through our engagement and collaboration, we hope to add value and help improve the competitive profile of our region.”

“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center. “Small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”

The Ash Center expects to announce 10 programs that will be named finalists and be invited to Cambridge to present to the Innovation Awards Program’s National Selection Committee in March, with the grand prize winners to be named in June.

For more information about ECU’s Community and Regional Development program, visit

For the full list of semifinalists, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards, visit

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs and government innovations awards, the center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens. For more information, visit


-by Rich Klindworth