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League Bulletin

January 24, 2020

WHAT HAPPENED: A non-legislative week, to set some contrast. While so much of 2019 was a calendar day for the N.C. General Assembly, Jones Street was relatively quiet this week. Lawmakers currently aren't scheduled to return until April 28, when they'll kick off the 2020 short session. Legislative committees are meeting in the interim and we're following all the moves. But remember there's still plenty to reflect upon and context to help understand where we are in our 2019 End of Session Bulletin and followup addendum.
WHAT IT MEANS: Even so, there are big projects and opportunities for cities and towns right now, not the least of them being the 2020 Census​. It's one of the most impactful federal operations in which municipal leaders should play a role, and work is heating up.
ON TAP: Federal, state and local officials are pushing awareness​ of just how important this decennial headcount is, with so much tied to it, including a massive amount of federal money and planning information that localities, their governments and businesses rely upon.
THE SKINNY: There are so many resources to help you prep your community for an accurate population count, and some of them are even fun -- like the new response-rate tool that shows how well your city or town is doing on participation. It even enables you to engage in friendly competition with neighboring communities by challenging them to a response contest. Read on for more immediate information about this and other news items for cities and towns.

Census Day 2020 might not be until April 1, but North Carolina's leaders are years into preparation for the most complete of counts and are reminding local government officials of the stakes. Census data are linked to funding allocations, infrastructure readiness, business location decisions and much more. "Census data is used to bring over $675 billion of your tax dollars back to your community," says, a resource website from state government. Unfortunately, this nationwide headcount -- done every 10 years by constitutional mandate -- is rife with challenges. For instance, according to the website, young children are likely to be undercounted, with an estimate that 73,000 children in North Carolina are at risk of not being counted this time around. That's why Census officials are hoping for the help of community leaders. "While the U.S. Census Bureau will promote the 2020 Census, no one knows our community better than us," the site notes. "Local Census advocates can help make sure that everyone is counted and that our tax dollars return to serve our residents." Full information is available at​. ​​

The state's Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) has kicked off its program of grants and loans for 2020 to help local governments recover from recent years' natural disasters, such as Hurricanes Florence and Dorian. A website,, spells out the criteria for eligibility and how to apply. "The program will provide 0% interest loans of up to $2,000,000 for eligible local governments to assist with covering disaster-related expenses, while waiting for reimbursement from various federal disaster response, recovery, and resiliency programs," it explains. "Approved local governments would repay the loan principal amount upon receipt of federal reimbursements." Interested parties should review the Notice of Funds Available memo
On Tuesday, the state gave word that it's moving forward in the making of a draft action plan for more than $542 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funding regarding Hurricane Florence. It follows a new federal register notice from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, that identified 10 counties and four zip codes as the most hard-hit from Florence, most of them in the coastal or southeastern parts of the state. “This is an important step by the federal government to get additional funds to families still recovering from Hurricane Florence," Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news release. "North Carolinians have waited for these funds since 2018 and we will continue to push for federal legislation to help the federal government to speed up this process and get assistance to the people who need it." The news release​ has full details.

Like many former mill towns in rural North Carolina, stagnant development seemed to plague the town of Elkin. In 2017, there were 17 empty storefronts downtown, the population continued to stay around 4,000 residents, and the future seemed bleak. Big cities seemed more desirable for business and opportunity and without a significant change, Elkin was sure to suffer. But change soon came in the form of “Explore Elkin,” an initiative designed to boost community engagement and, ultimately, revive Elkin’s Downtown. 

Head over to Here We Grow, the economic development storytelling website from the League in partnership with WRAL TechWire​, for what happened next. Hint: a turnaround that had one Elkinite saying, "Wow, we live in this great place!" These stories are rippling through North Carolina from cities and towns exercising creative resourcefulness to provide residents and businesses a motivating quality of life and work.
Your municipality can join the scores of others already amplifying their stories through Here We Grow, at It's a powerful messaging tool and is totally free for League members. Send an email to Communications Associate Jack Cassidy to get started.