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The North Carolina Association of Regional Councils is the leading partner in an exciting collaboration to develop a resilient North Carolina through the process titled North Carolina Tomorrow – Building Communities for Tomorrow’s Jobs.

The first phase of the NC Tomorrow initiative was the development of a Uniform Process for North Carolina to develop the NC Statewide Strategy for Comprehensive Community and Economic Development. The second phase was to roll regional strategies (CEDS) into a statewide plan.

The Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness in Arlington, Virginia worked with the Association to further develop the statewide plan. They brought a national perspective to the table along with best practices being carried out across the nation.


About NC Tomorrow

The North Carolina Association of Regional Councils continues to lead a collaborative partnership with assistance from the US Economic Development  and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development to create the NC Statewide Strategy for Comprehensive Community and Economic Development.

The initial NC Tomorrow initiative was a two-year process for the Association and the collaborative partners.  The Association has just recently updated the plan for 2017 and is now in the implementation phase of the work as funds become available and additional partners are identified to help lead and provide the resources necessary to carry out the strategies.  The plan is a living document and continues to be updated to address the changes taking place in the North Carolina economy.

Click here to View the Full 2017 Report

Funding for the NC Tomorrow initiative initially came from the federal Economic Development Administration and the NC Department of Commerce – Division of Community Development through the NC Catalyst Program of the CDBG funds program.   NC Commerce provided planning grants to non-entitlement local governments within each of the 16 Councils of Government (COGs) regions. While the Regional Councils led the effort to create the Regional CEDS, the non-entitlement local units of government fostered regional, multi-jurisdictional participation around the program goals and assisted in the development of the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that was used to build the foundation for the NC Strategy for Comprehensive Community and Economic Development.

The funding for the 2017 Update was provided once again by the federal Economic Development Administration with matching funds from the Association.

The North Carolina Rural Center provided funding that launched a portion of the strategy to create a pilot project for water and sewer infrastructure management. The first phase of that strategy provided the funding for four small towns to develop digital plans for their existing water and sewer infrastructure, making it easier for those communities to maintain and upgrade those facilities. The Association hopes to secure funding to expand the program into other small towns across North Carolina.

Duke Energy provided funding for survey software that was used in the planning process on the local level. The Association also invested in software from ESRI – Community Analyst, that was used in the regional CEDS across the state. That software is now available for the regional councils use when and where their local communities have the need for either community or economic development initiatives.

The NC Strategy was also shaped by the Six Livability Principles established by the EPA, HUD & DOT Federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the Six Investment Principles set forth by the federal Economic Development Administration and the NADO CEDS Standards of Excellence. The planning process included all sectors of the economic development community, including local, regional and state economic developers, planners, private industry, educational institutions, elected officials and many other community organizations that work on the ground to make North Carolina a great place to live, work and play.

The Association and its partners have aspired to develop a strong foundation for common- sense development and growth that will create jobs for our citizens while conserving the natural resources that make North Carolina the special place it has always been, a place where companies can thrive and where families want to live.

What is CEDS?

The Economic Development Administration (EDA) encourages the development of Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).

A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA’s mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting innovation and competitiveness, preparing American regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.

EDA encourages programs, such as the CEDS process, that promote job growth and business expansion in today’s technologies and in discovering tomorrow’s. The EDA supports key initiatives among regional areas across the United States, thereby developing economic stability through intergovernmental and public/private sector collaboration.

A comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) is designed to bring together the public and private sectors in the creation of an economic roadmap to diversify and strengthen regional economies. The CEDS should analyze the regional economy and serve as a guide for establishing regional goals and objectives, developing and implementing a regional plan of action, and identifying investment priorities and funding sources. A CEDS integrates a region’s human and physical capital planning in the service of economic development. Integrated economic development planning provides the flexibility to adapt to global economic conditions and fully utilize the region’s unique advantages to maximize economic opportunity for its residents by attracting the private investment that creates jobs for the region’s residents. A CEDS must be the result of a continuing economic development planning process developed with broad-based and diverse public and private sector participation, and must set forth the goals and objectives necessary to solve the economic development problems of the region and clearly define the metrics of success. Finally, a CEDS provides a useful benchmark by which a regional economy can evaluate opportunities with other regions in the national economy.