For immediate release (6/08/12)
Contact: Garnet Bass, 919-250-4314
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Approximately 100 small town leaders came to Raleigh June 6-7 to launch their communities into a two-year revitalization process with the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center.
The leaders represent 11 towns accepted this year into the center’s N.C. Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program: Fremont, Garland, Liberty, Madison, Mayodan, Murphy, North Wilkesboro, Roseboro, Rutherfordton, Spring Hope and St. Pauls.
“STEP challenges business as usual,”
Dan Ryan of Maysville tells towns just
starting the NC STEP process.
Joining them for the welcoming ceremony were Gov. Beverly Perdue. “You’ve got to inspire your people to believe that good things can happen in little bitty places,” Perdue told them during the ceremony.
Representatives of towns that joined the program in 2010 offered words of encouragement and counsel.
“This process will bring together people who truly believe in the value of your town and what it can become,” said Dan Ryan, a town council member from Maysville in Jones County, but there will be obstacles. “STEP challenges business as usual,” he said. “It means change, and change is scary.”
The new towns bring to 67 the number to have participated in the NC STEP program since it was created in 2006. During the welcoming ceremony, the Rural Center unveiled a Town Square recognizing all 67 towns. The Town Square, part of a courtyard at the center, features a sundial surrounded by bricks bearing the names of the participating towns.
Eager to begin the work of revitalization,
seven people from the Wayne County
town of Fremont came to Raleigh for the
NC STEP orientation.
NC STEP assists struggling small towns on the path to economic renewal. It incorporates community coaching, leadership training, planning assistance and grants. The next steps for Liberty include the creation of a leadership team, which must represent all sections of the community, and a kickoff event to increase awareness of the program and invite widespread participation.
Towns that joined the program earlier have seen over 1,800 volunteers participate in the strategic planning process and project implementation. Approximately 660 jobs were created through the first 200 projects implemented. The volunteers also have learned to find and leverage resources, totaling nearly $19 million so far. Through these efforts, they see community pride and growing optimism that their towns can have a brighter economic future.
The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to develop sound economic strategies that improve the quality of life in rural North Carolina, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. The center operates a multifaceted program that includes conducting research into rural issues; testing promising rural development strategies; advocating for policy and program innovations; and building the productive capacity of rural leaders, entrepreneurs and community organizations.