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IEI Receives ARC Grant to “ReCONNECT Western NC”

RALEIGH, NC —The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at North Carolina State University is excited to announce a $150,000 grant from The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to help advance community economic development in eight western North Carolina communities.

As part of the ReCONNECT NC Emerging Issues Forum series focused on the root causes of disconnection—to work, to civic institutions, to one another—IEI is working with 25 community teams from across the state that are implementing new solutions that will make them stronger, better equipped to succeed, and more connected. Eight of the community teams in the ReCONNECT NC cohort are from western NC: WestNGN Broadband Initiative (Land of Sky Regional Council), Wilkes Community College, Asheville City Schools Foundation, The Growing Outdoors Partnership (Mountain BizWorks), Explore Elkin (City of Elkin), Kenan Institute for the Arts, and the Carolina Core (Piedmont Triad Partnership). One final community will be selected in the summer of 2020.

IEI will use the $150,000 “ReCONNECT Western NC” ARC award to help advance community economic development by building the capacity of community leaders to collaborate across silos–bringing those with different perspectives and experiences to the visioning process. We will connect these leaders to a peer-network from across the state. These leaders will also receive technical assistance and resources that can help them better navigate these new relationships. The ReCONNECT Western NC award will assist these leaders in understanding the root causes of economic challenges and then creating a shared vision of economic opportunity in their community. We will also connect these teams to local development district leaders in order to explore synergies with broader regional strategy. Each team will receive up to $5,000 in seed funding for these communities to enhance their economic development potential.

“These community teams were already hard at work on their initiatives before joining the cohort,” said Sarah Langer Hall, IEI Senior Policy and Programs Manager. “IEI is bringing capacity building and a peer learning network to help build out their teams, develop and implement their strategic plans, or scale their initiative. We are also helping to elevate their work through the Emerging Issues Forum and with a UNC-TV/Public Media audience, inspiring other communities seeking to reconnect in their own community.” 

Six additional community teams are being supported thanks to the generous support of the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Foundation and the Anonymous Trust. To learn more about the ReCONNECT NC cohorts or to support this work visit 



About the Institute for Emerging Issues
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at North Carolina State University is a nonpartisan public policy organization focused on the state’s vibrancy and economic competitiveness. Since 1986, the Emerging Issues Forum has attracted leaders in business, education and public policy to discuss issues with profound implications for North Carolina’s future prosperity. For more than three decades, the Forum has helped catalyze the policy reforms, public investments and other proactive responses required to build an enduring capacity for progress in North Carolina.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission ( is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.