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.


We need your input to craft an advocacy agenda for rural N.C.

Rural Center staff members met with hundreds of you this summer as we traveled across the state to gather input toward creating a rural advocacy agenda. We pored over the data from those meetings, and have built a survey to help illuminate what we have learned so far. Now we need your assistance.

Please click here to start the survey. Designed to take 10 minutes or less, the survey will be an invaluable tool in collecting the feedback we need to ensure that the advocacy agenda is an accurate reflection of rural North Carolina's most pressing needs.

The data from this survey will be included in the report that we will present to our board in December. We anticipate rolling out the 2016 N.C. Rural Advocacy Agenda in the spring.


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.



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

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The 2015 N.C. Rural Assembly, “Cultivating Connectivity: Leveraging Broadband to Accelerate Opportunity," is in the history books and was a resounding success. Approximately 400 of you joined us September 28-29 to hear from federal, state and private sector broadband experts. If you missed it, or if you attended and are interested in reviewing what you experienced, click for:
 •   A directory of agendas, speaker presentations, videos and other materials that many of you have asked to receive, plus a directory of Rural Assembly attendees;
•    A straight-forward, five-step approach to what any community can do right now to work toward improving their broadband connectivity. This piece is authored by Joe Freddoso, co-founder of Mighty River LLC and former CEO of MCNC, who assisted the Rural Center in delivering a first-class conference agenda;
•    The powerful keynote address delivered by Jonathan Chambers, chief of the office of strategic planning and policy analysis for the FCC;
•    A full list of award winners;
•    Constructive feedback from our attendees to assist us in planning the 2016 N.C. Rural Assembly.