In 2009, East Carolina University’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development aggressively worked to identify critical issues that limit eastern North Carolina communities and create barriers to increased competitiveness and economic vitality. University staff reached out to regional and state partners to help define those issues, and frame a programmatic response. Data revealed that eastern communities had an immediate need for financial resources, additional capacity to acquire new resources, professional assistance with project development, and basic administrative and management support to enhance public service delivery. In response to their findings, the university established the Community and Regional Development Program, a comprehensive offering of products and services that target small, rural and limited resource communities. This Program is a multi-tiered approach characterized by increased levels of collaboration, regional investment, and direct engagement on behalf of distressed communities. Components include:
Municipal Management and Innovation is an initiative that focuses on direct engagement with small municipalities and offers training, technical assistance, and capacity building to help increase administrative capacities and enhance public service delivery.
Talent Enhancement and Capacity Building is a partnership with North Carolina Commerce that provides financial assistance, technical assistance, capacity building, and community development training to local governments and nonprofits.
Outreach Network is a collaborative of faculty, staff, and students who work directly with local governments and nonprofit organizations to help prioritize organizational resource needs, identify resources, and prepare grant applications.
The most recent addition to the Community and Regional Development program is the Rural Community Consortium. The Consortium is a formal partnership that directly engages the university with external partners through discussion and policy groups that include the Rural Leadership Group, the Campus Consortium and the Eastern NC Community Consortium.