The Rural Center is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of rural North Carolinians through the development, promotion and implementation of sound economic strategies.

How can we help your community? The center trains rural leaders from all walks of life to recognize and embrace economic opportunities. We help rural entrepreneurs of all ages start their own businesses, and we provide access to capital so established businesses can grow and create new jobs.

We are passionate about this work. Recent challenges have only strengthened our dedication to it.

If you have a question about current Rural Center initiatives, please contact a          staff member. If you have a question about past grant programs, please see this FAQ.



Register now for the 2014 N.C. Rural Assembly

 assembly save the date logo

Registration is now open for the 2014 N.C. Rural Assembly, which will be held Thursday, October 30 in Raleigh. We took a break last year from hosting our annual gathering, but the Rural Center's signature event is returning this fall, with a new name, a new venue and a new strategic action plan for addressing the future of rural economic development.


Anticipate spending the entire day with us — the 2014 N.C. Rural Assembly will be packed with dynamic speakers, thoughtful discussions and the networking and fellowship our events have long been known for.


Check out the agenda here, and guarantee your spot at the Assembly by registering today. Registration is only $95, and will include meals.


To register, you may:

Sign up online with a credit card, or:

Download a form and register by mail with a check.

The Rural Center is pleased to offer a very limited number of scholarships to cover the registration fee. Please click here to download the scholarship application.



The 2014 N.C. Rural Assembly will be held at the DoubleTree/Raleigh Brownstone Hotel on Hillsborough Street near N.C. State University. The hotel is offering a discounted rate of $99 to Assembly participants. This rate is good for October 29 and October 30.

Reserve a hotel room now.


We look forward to seeing you in Raleigh this fall!


Leadership grads tour Siler City successes

Graduates of the Rural Economic Development Institute visited Siler City recently to see firsthand the differences that dedicated leaders can make in a community. REDI is an intensive, three-month program to train rural leaders, but the education doesn't stop in the classroom. Alumni meet periodically to share success stories and trade ideas for developing and empowering North Carolina's rural communities. For the Siler City meeting, graduates traveled from as far away as Onslow County for networking opportunities and a walking tour of the Chatham County town. Read more.



SBCI continues to count successes, hit milestones

The N.C. Small Business Credit Initiative, which is operated by the Rural Center, has been recognized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as one of the top programs of its kind in the country. In its most recent quarterly report, Treasury ranked NCSBCI in the top 10 of several important national categories, including the percentage of allocated money that has already moved through the program. Read more. 



Office space available for lease

The Rural Center has space available for lease in its office building on Carya Drive in Raleigh. The building, which is located in a Wake County government office complex with convenient Beltline access, features abundant free parking, shared meeting spaces, a modern phone system and a state-of-the-art conference center. Read more.



New research on N.C. seafood industry available for download

Our oyster aquaculture report compares the efforts of Virginia and North Carolina in nurturing and regulating this growing industry, and provides recommendations for improving oyster-based opportunities in North Carolina.


Our seafood supply chain report examines how North Carolina seafood moves from the coast to consumers, and provides compelling ideas for increasing the availablity of fresh seafood across the state.



Rural Center receives clean audit

The Rural Center Board of Directors recently received the independent auditor's report for the 2013 fiscal year. Prepared by the Raleigh offices of Cherry Bekaert, the report found no material issues with the Rural Center's financial reporting. To put it into accounting terms: no material weaknesses were identified, no significant deficiencies were identified and zero material noncompliance issues were noted. The Rural Center has received clean independent audit reports each year since its founding in 1987. 



47 rural students join new Public Service Internship Program

The program, which is designed to foster a new generation of community leaders in rural North Carolina, will feature students working with mentors in their home counties. Read more.



Report details prospects for manufacturing resurgence

manufacturing reportThe Rural Center has released the results of an expansive, yearlong study of the state of manufacturing in North Carolina. It cites growing reasons for optimism about the future of manufacturing, calls for establishment of the North Carolina Manufacturing Council and  provides new insights to guide the work of policy makers and economic developers. Read more. Download the report.




Center releases latest edition of N.C. Rural Profile

Rural Profile

Overflowing with charts, graphs and statistics on the top economic and social trends affecting rural North Carolina, the Profile is a must for anyone seeking to improve rural life in our state. Download the report.