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.

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.


Thanks to you, the 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly was an outstanding success!

Rural-Assembly-2015-Logo H copyThe 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly welcomed nearly 400 people to the Triangle for two days of in-depth discussions on the future of rural broadband and what it means for North Carolina's economy. While it is true that there is much to be done to improve broadband access, we heard about a number of innovative successes. Resources and assistance are available to help communities improve their digital infrastructure.

If you were able to join us, please accept our sincere thanks for helping to make it the best conference we've ever assembled. If you were unable to attend, we'll get you up to speed: We are busily assembling presentations, photographs and supporting information to create an online repository for all-things Assembly and rural broadband. Our efforts to expand connectivity will not end with the Assembly — more information will be available soon.

In the meantime, please take a moment to watch a fitting tribute. Recently on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Congressman G.K. Butterfield honored Howard Jones, President and CEO of Wilson OIC and our 2015 Rural Leader of the Year. It is a touching and well-deserved tribute to a man who has dedicated his life to helping others. Watch the video.

Apply Now for REDI 2016

Applications are now being accepted for the next class of the Rural Economic Development Institute. Each year, REDI welcomes government officials, nonprofit and faith-based leaders, small business owners, volunteers, economic development professionals and other community-minded people for nine days of intensive rural economic development training. Interested? Read more.


Rural Center welcomes hundreds to advocacy meetings

Center staff traveled across rural North Carolina in July and August, gathering critical feedback as we work to craft a rural advocacy agenda that benefits the entire state. More than 300 people participated. Read more.