ECU to facilitate $600,000 in new grants
East Carolina University will support community development projects in 12 rural underserved communities in the state through a $600,000 grant program provided by the N.C. Department of Commerce.
Now in its third year, the Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building Program combines ECU’s resources, expertise and connections with state funding to support economic development across North Carolina.
The communities served are generally distressed, low wealth and limited capacity communities, said Kenny Flowers, director of Community and Regional Development, housed in ECU’s Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development. The financial resources from the Department of Commerce (up to $50,000 for each project), along with training and support from ECU, help those stakeholders “build stronger, more vibrant and more capable communities,” he said.
“Building strong community partnerships is vital to ECU’s core mission,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard. “We are a university built on a foundation of service, and building partnerships that add value, create vitality and stimulate economic transformation is paramount to our success in serving the region.”
To assist community partners, ECU faculty develop and deliver an on-campus grant administration and public management curriculum, through which participants earn continuing education credits. Participants attend four-hour classes once a month for two semesters.
Three full-time graduate assistants in ECU’s masters in public administration program provide direct, ongoing support.
Twenty-two community projects have been developed since the program began in August 2009. Among those projects was a feasibility and housing needs assessment for Edgecombe County. The county was considering whether to develop a shell building to entice industry into the community, and needed help assessing whether that would be cost-effective. A study of the community’s housing needs and availability was also provided.
Edgecombe County’s assistant county manager, Eric Evans, said development tied to both studies is now under consideration through a joint initiative with the city of Rocky Mount and other partners. Even better, Evans said, “We have built a relationship with ECU that is proving beneficial far beyond the scope of the original…project.”
Similar projects completed in 2011-12 include a water system assessment for Pamlico County, housing surveys and assessments in Pitt and Jones counties, a riverfront feasibility study for the town of Aurora, and training in grants management for Beaufort County and in economic impact analysis for Hyde County.
For more information about the Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building program, contact Kenny Flowers, Director of Community and Regional Development at 252-737-1342 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.