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NC State Extension

CultivateNC™ Program

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The Cultivate NC program is a community economic development initiative of North Carolina Cooperative Extension in conjunction with NC State University. Launched in July 2013, Cultivate NC targets its services to all agents who need tools or direct technical assistance to improve the efficacy of their programming, particularly with respect to how that programming can impact the region’s economic health.

We incorporate ideas that come from within our army of knowledgeable professionals and from outside the walls of our institution, to provide valuable guidance on how best to improve the lives of every North Carolinian.

Our services include:

Interdepartmental resourcing/networking, community mentoring, direct technical assistance and facilitation in strategic economic development planning, community coalition building, skills training, asset mapping, appreciative inquiry, and outreach.

Planning Services

Cultivate NC Curriculum

CultivateNC program logo

An important component of this initiative is the Cultivate NC curriculum. The Cultivate NC curriculum engages communities of people in redeveloping, re-energizing, and reinventing the areas where they live, work, and play. It has been developed to encourage NC Extension agents to explore a creativity-based community and economic development initiative that draws upon the skills and talents of the local community.

Economic development in the 21st century is different from any other time in history. In today’s globalized marketplace innovation has become the key that allows one business to rise above the others. Corporate industries are hiring people that can solve problems or increase profits, using resourcefulness and creativity. Even the small, independent family farmer needs to explore fresh,
new ideas for all areas of the operation if they want to stay competitive.

The Cultivate NC Curriculum provides a step-by-step process for Extension Agents to use in organizing and conducting a community-driven initiative for revitalizing and re-building local capacity; one that is guided by the principles of creative thinking and leads to sustainable development.

N.C. Cooperative Extension’s unique role in “‘Empowering People … Providing Solutions” positions it to be a powerful catalyst for this work. Extension has the local relationships and tie to the Land-grant university system to build partnerships that leverage resources to meet the needs of the state and local community. This work will result in a better quality of life and will create and strengthen jobs,
businesses, and industries.

Please check Agent Resources for the full Cultivate NC Curriculum.

Other Economic Development Planning Resources

Stronger Economies Together

N.C. Cooperative Extension regularly participates in other economic development planning processes. From 2012 to 2017 we facilitated USDA’s Stronger Economies Together initiative, which has resulted in regional economic development planning for 18 NC counties. See regional economic development plans produced as a result of the SET planning process.


The CREATE BRIDGES planning process was launched in June 2020 and involved a competitive regional application process. An announcement of the selected region will be made in September 2020.

The CREATE BRIDGES planning process focuses on strengthening the retail, accommodation, tourism, and entertainment sectors, which have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about any or all of these planning processes, contact Becky Bowen at

Tools for Community and Economic Development: