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Taking the Field: A whole bunch of gratitude 

by Paul Meyer, League Executive Director

As I reflect on the fifteen city “Listening and Visioning Tour” that was recently completed, I feel a strong sense of gratitude for the opportunity to serve city and town officials all across North Carolina. Thank you to each host city and the officials that helped make each tour stop a reality!

I cherish the amount of energy and passion I felt as folks expressed their opinions about the future role, function, purpose, and structure of cities and towns. I learned so much about what you are up against, and I saw so many of you jubilantly describe wonderful things being accomplished back home and how creatively you are working on political relationships to change the course of events in your region. I became very concerned when I heard many of you talk about the lack of understanding you feel most people have about the important roles cities and towns play in furthering economic development opportunities and the enhancement of quality of life. I am challenged by the stories you shared concerning the struggles you are facing back home and how you are looking to the League for help.

As I thought more deeply what the “League” can do to help, it became clear that in some cases, the “League” being referred to was our organization’s management and staff (yes, I have a very long “to-do” list buried in my briefcase!). In other situations, it was clear the “League” being asked to help were other cities and towns from all across the state. But in all situations, the call for the “League” was a request for a federation of cities, all acting as one unit through an unincorporated association to further the interests of ALL cities and towns in a variety of ways. That is our strength, and I am optimistic as we all collectively develop a strategic course for the future.

The League Board of Directors is driving a statewide Strategic Visioning process for the future of North Carolina cities and towns. In partnership with the UNC School of Government, the Board is nearing the end of a nine-month process to chart out a preferred future for cities and towns in North Carolina by 2030. It is from this process that our staff will set priorities, allocate resources, and organize our efforts to help every city and town achieve that vision locally.

I feel hopeful as we look to better our efforts, modernize and improve how we serve you across all aspects of our organization. It is an exciting initiative, in which I am fortunate to play a part.

Thank you for your partnership and ongoing support!