ECU joins professional development program for rural leaders

East Carolina University is now part of North Carolina Commerce’s Rural Community Capacity (RC2) program. The program provides professional development training for leaders of local governments in some of the state’s economically distressed areas.

ECU’s participation will offer an eastern location for the university-based statewide educational program.

“This program aligns with ECU’s mission of regional transformation, so we’re thrilled to be part of the RC2 program and its work to position our rural communities for economic growth and prosperity,” said Dr. Sharon Paynter, ECU’s acting chief research and engagement officer.

RC2 is an initiative of the N.C. Commerce Rural Economic Development Division. Its goal is to help rural governments increase their capacity to plan, implement and manage economic development programs and opportunities.

“North Carolina’s success is built when both urban and rural communities thrive,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “It’s great to see this rural development program expand its reach, allowing commerce to help more communities secure economic development projects and bolster the state’s economy.”

Local government leaders in Tier 1 (most economically distressed), Tier 2 (economically distressed) and some qualifying Tier 3 (least economically distressed) counties are eligible to apply for the training.

The program provides educational programming, technical assistance and focused guidance to local government staff. Programming will include guidance on developing successful grant proposals, administration and management of state and federal grants, local government budgeting and finance, and leveraging local assets for economic development success.

ECU faculty and staff, along with economic development partners, will provide the training.

“ECU faculty, staff and subject expert partners are excited to lead the educational training for this initiative in the areas of economic development, asset mapping, grant writing, affordable housing, emergency management and strategic planning,” said Dr. Olga Smirnova, associate professor in the Department of Political Science. “We will also stay with the communities for the duration of their grant implementation, assisting them with their projects.”

“The opportunity to engage and work with communities in these sessions will enhance the capacities of participating communities in critical areas of community development. At the same time, it increases associations with East Carolina University’s resources,” said Merrill Flood, ECU’s director of research and innovation campus development.

“I am immensely proud for our faculty expertise to be leveraged for this impactful program that will further support rural economic development,” said Dr. Allison S. Danell, dean of the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences.

Communities that successfully complete the RC2 campus curriculum will become eligible to apply for community implementation grants offered through the Rural Transformation Grant Fund. The fund provides local governments with grants and expert guidance to improve economic vitality and overcome the unique challenges many rural communities face.

More information about the initiative and grant funding is available on North Carolina’s Department of Commerce website.


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