Thirteen rural communities from across the state have been selected to participate in the Commerce Department’s program to increase their capacity to plan, implement, and manage economic development programs and opportunities. The Rural Community Capacity (RC2) program, an initiative from the Commerce Department involving Appalachian State University’s Walker College of Business, will welcome its second cohort of participants on May 25th in Boone.
“North Carolina’s economic development success is built when both urban and rural communities thrive,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Our Commerce Department’s program strengthens the ability of local governments in rural communities to secure major economic projects and bolster North Carolina’s economy.”
The RC2 program, part of Commerce’s broader Rural Transformation Grant program, provides educational programming, technical assistance, and focused guidance to local government staff in rural and distressed communities. Each of the thirteen jurisdictions can identify up to two representatives to participate in program activities, which include on-campus and virtual classes, community level engagement, and targeted training programs. RC2 campus curriculum will include four core courses that are required by the Department of Commerce and additional targeted courses that are designed by the ASU faculty.
“Our rural communities are vibrant places to live and work, but we are stronger when we partner with local government to strengthen their capacity to plan and execute proven economic development strategies,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “The RC2 program is an important tool for transforming rural economies, equipping local governments and their staffs with the education, technical assistance, and implementation grants they need to succeed.”
During an RC2 engagement, communities have direct access to Commerce’s Rural Planning team, who offer additional training and technical assistance to program participants, including a strategic planning process focused on identifying economic development assets and priorities that are specific to each community.
Communities that successfully complete the RC2 campus curriculum and participate in the Commerce rural planning process will then be eligible to apply for Community Implementation Grants offered by Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division through the Rural Transformation Grant Fund.
The thirteen communities participating in the Rural Community Capacity (RC2) program include:
- Nash County
- Robeson County
- Rutherford County
- City of Clinton
- City of Washington
- Town of Benson
- City of Bessemer City
- Town of Elkin
- Town of Long View
- Town of Pembroke
- Town of Robbinsville
- Town of Roseboro
- Town of Sandyfield
“Success in economic development takes intentional preparation,” said Kenny Flowers, Commerce’s Assistant Secretary for Rural Development. “We know the approaches that work well and lay the groundwork for success, and we’re excited to share these best practices with more local government officials.”
More information about the Rural Transformation Grant Fund and the Rural Community Capacity initiative is available at commerce.nc.gov/transform.