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League Bulletin

April 6, 2018

Multiple economic development experts stressed to legislators Thursday the importance of infrastructure to economic growth in the state. Addressing members of the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement (EDGE) Oversight Committee, the speakers highlighted broadband infrastructure as part of the primary infrastructure investments that must be made to attract and support business, in addition to water/wastewater, transportation, electric, and natural gas systems. Their comments dovetailed with a recent League report that highlighted the potential role of local governments in partnering with the private sector to supply broadband infrastructure. This focus on broadband extends local governments’ historic role of providing basic infrastructure to 21st-Century communications systems.
Leaders of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the N.C. Chamber, N.C. Rural Center, Charlotte Chamber, and Wilson Economic Development Council also pressed legislators for other state-level economic development support. Other top requests from this group focused on the need for a workforce where workers’ skills matched those sought by employers; more money to support recruitment of direct foreign investment; and continued support of urban economies that feed and grow surrounding rural areas.
In the lead-up to the legislature’s short session, scheduled to begin May 16, committees like EDGE may propose legislation for consideration in that legislative session. While the EDGE Committee did not vote on any proposals at its meeting this week, Committee Co-Chair Sen. Harry Brown told members to expect one more meeting prior to the start of the short session. Such a meeting would be the time for any committee-supported economic development proposals to move forward. Throughout the interim, this committee has discussed revisions to the economic tier system​ that measures economic distress. That topic did not receive attention at this week’s meeting. Contact: Erin Wynia

Local officials looking to increase the availability of broadband in their communities should make plans to attend the League-sponsored NC Hearts Gigabit Interactive. The April 20 forum in Raleigh will gather people from across the state to discuss how to bring broadband networks to local communities and make them more economically resilient. Attend to learn from an elite group of state and national experts on community-led broadband efforts, including NCLM broadband report co-author Joanne Hovis, president of CTC Technology and Energy and a recognized expert on communications policy at the federal, state, and local levels. Gov. Roy Cooper will open the daylong conference, former Gov. James B. Hunt will serve as the keynote speaker, and Rep. Craig Horn​ will discuss the importance of internet access in our schools. Attendees will benefit from hearing a playbook of actionable steps they can take back home to advance local broadband projects. Register now​!

The people say it's time to close the broadband gap, and really find a way to make internet speeds adequate for the modern age, for everyone, from areas in cities where the service options aren't enough, to rural areas that lack access altogether. Businesses, economic growth, education, healthcare, general quality of life and more depend on it. A new report from the League, "Leaping the Digital Divide," shows us a way to get there. On Episode 47 of Municipal Equation, we hear from the report's authors (including League Legislative Counsel Erin Wynia) along with state- and local-level leaders who endorse the plan as essential to connect residents with the gigabit pace of the world.
Municipal Equation is the League's biweekly podcast about cities and towns adapting in the face of change. Highlighting best practices both in North Carolina and around the country, the podcast is helping cities and towns and their residents to understand how technology can be and is being used to deliver services and how municipalities are engaging in partnerships that transform people’s lives. It's also helping the public make connections and see the value that municipalities add to residents' quality of life. Subscribe for free on iTunes​ or find it on your favorite podcast-streaming app. Get all past episodes at

"Leaping the Digital Divide," the recently released League report on the broadband gap with policy recommendations to close it across North Carolina, continues to receive coverage from media outlets and topic experts. Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham last Thursday spotlighted the report on an episode of the television show "Front Row w/ Marc Rotterman" with followup conversation from roundtable guests including Rep. Holly Grange​ of Wilmington. "I look at it as an infrastructure issue, and I look at it as a 21st century issue," she said of broadband access​, noting big ramifications for the job market and business growth. Senator Woodard agreed. "One of the rural areas that I represent, more than half the county does not have access to broadband, so it's really hard to recruit business there. I have a school where ... all of the kids have tablets, but it doesn't do them good when they take that tablet home at night to do their lesson..... I think there will be a bipartisan solution on this." The report recommends public-private partnerships that can revolutionize access to quality broadband in this state. The blog of MuniNetworks also gave considerable coverage to the report and its recommendations and included a video​ from the March 21 press conference that debuted it. Download the report in full at

Roughly $5.5 billion in new available credit could finance more than $11 billion in water infrastructure projects, federal regulators said on Wednesday. That financing would come through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), a program meant to speed up investment in water infrastructure with long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally signficiant projects, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency says prospective borrowers seeking WIFIA credit assistance must submit a letter of interest by July 6. Application instructions are on the EPA's​ website.
​Example projects include drinking-water or wastewater treatment; energy efficiency at treatment plants; desalination, aquifer recharges, alternative water supplies and water recycling; and drought prevention, reduction or mitigation. "EPA will play a key role in the President's infrastructure efforts by incentivizing states, municipalities, and public-private partnerships to protect public health, fix local infrastructure problems, create jobs, and provide clean water to communities," said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a news release with full details about the funding.

In related news, the State Water Infrastructure Authority in late March approved more than $240 million in loans and grants for 127 projects across North Carolina. Oxford was among funded cities highlighted in an N.C. Department of Environmental Quality news release​. “Oxford is pleased and excited to be moving forward with planned improvements to our water and sewer systems with the funding provided through the division,” the release quotes of Amy Ratliff, an Oxford city engineer. “Without this aid, the city would not be in a position to perform badly needed utility infrastructure work. We can now look forward to the infrastructure legacy we will leave for future generations.”

The N.C. Association of Resort Towns & Convention Cities (RTCC) invites you to learn more about how to address issues with short-term rentals in your community. Join RTCC members April 18 at 2 p.m. at a location convenient to you for an interactive meeting that will link you with officials across the state. After an overview from UNC School of Government expert Rebecca Badgett, you will connect virtually with other officials who face the same challenges you do to share best practices and ideas. Additional speakers include local tax collectors and planners. Register here, and make​ sure to indicate which meeting site you will attend (Boone, Brunswick County, Manteo, or Raleigh).

The state has scheduled a number of stakeholder sessions on a draf​t mitigation plan for the first phase of funding under the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust. For background, it follows settlements and payout requirements that the automobile company entered into after allegations of emissions violations. The money is meant to benefit environmental mitigation and air quality projects across the U.S. The state's draft plan would invest the first phase of $92 million (North Carolina's share of the nearly $3 billion federal settlement with VW) in projects to reduce impacts from diesel emissions, and regulators are accepting comments on the matter through May 3. 

Explanatory stakeholder sessions are scheduled as follows:
-5-7 p.m. Monday, April 16: Lenoir Community College, Bullock Building, Room 150, Kinston
-1-3 p.m. Tuesday, April 17: Triangle J Council of Governments, 4307 Emperor Blvd., Suite 110, Durham
-9-11 a.m. Friday, April 20: Cape Fear Community College, Union Station, Room 512, 502 N. Front St., Wilmington

Members of the public and entities interested in receiving funds for eligible projects are encouraged to attend, the state says. Anyone who cannot attend may submit comments to A handout from the state​ has more information. 

​State Attorney General Josh Stein joined several fellow attorneys general on Tuesday in a lawsuit to keep a citizenship question off of the 2020 Census, arguing its presence could result in an undercount that would impact access to federal funding for communities. Accurate census information is important for local areas' shares of funds for roads, education, and more. In a news release, Stein's office noted that six former Census directors from Republican and Democratic administrations are opposed to the concept. "We strongly believe that adding an untested question on citizenship status at this late point in the decennial planning process would put the accuracy of the enumeration and success of the census in all communities at grave risk," they wrote in a letter. The lawsuit's position is under the Enumeration Clause of the U.S. Constitution and under the Administrative Procedures Act, the latter of which would allow courts to "set aside" agency decisions determined to unlawful or arbitrary and capricious. Media outlets on Wednesday reported that the general counsel from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the acting director of the Census were scheduled to brief members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on April 11 about the addition of the citizenship question.

The "Here We Grow" map of local economic development success stories continues to fill out, with a number of recent additions that include an update from the City of Albemarle. "The Albemarle Business Center has taken another significant step in being positioned as a premier site in North Carolina for attracting business and industry," the town writes at Here We Grow​. "ElectriCities of North Carolina Inc. has designated a 282-acre City of Albemarle owned property as Smart Site. This prestigious designation guarantees that the site has met stringent requirements and will be shovel-ready for new development."​​

How did the town wind up on Here We Grow​? Its leaders simply submitted their story and corresponding photo. It marks the fourth time the town has been featured on the site, as Here We Grow -- the best way for North Carolina municipalities to express their economic strength collectively -- is crowdsourced. That means your town can easily sign up to contribute to the website. It's imporant that Here We Grow enables you to tell your story in your own words, ensuring that the role of your municipality in improving your local or regional economy is represented in the statewide dialogue. Haven't signed up to participate with Here We Grow? Send an email to for login credentials or to ask any questions. Members will find a wealth of stories and information along with customizable materials to help present the work your municipality is doing.