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NC State Extension

Extension as Economic Development

Person Reporting: Jessica Anderson   Location: Alamance   Date: 2013-06-27     

The Anson County Tourism Development Authority exists as an entity of County Government to disperse funds collected from an occupancy tax to promote the tourism industry in Anson County. The Authority utilizes a relationship between County Government, Chamber of Commerce, Uptown Wadesboro Inc. and the Anson Economic Development Corporation to develop and promote local tourism events.

This past year, the Anson County Livestock Agent served as chair of the Anson County Tourism Development Authority, including oversight of an annual budget of $35,000 and how it was distributed for advertising, marketing, and support of local events to promote tourism. As the agritourism representative on the Board, it is essential to provide an agricultural insight of the heritage of agriculture in the area and how that may promote tourism in Anson County. The Authority also received much needed guidance in planning, networking and relationships building from Extension. This past year over $5,000 was given to promote local events and contests in the county to promote tourism.

Person Reporting: Mark Blevins     Location: Brunswick   Date: 2012-01-09     

The Brunswick County Commissioners were not aware of the full value that N.C. Cooperative Extension adds to our community, so the local Extension Advisory Council was equipped and energized to complete a County-wide needs assessment in the spring of 2011. A survey was developed to determine educational needs of residents in issues related to the strengths of Cooperative Extension – youth development, health & nutrition, agriculture, horticulture, community development, and natural resources.

Over 660 responses were compiled to provide a look into the needs of Brunswick County. The Advisory Council and staff members processed the needs assessment to guide our efforts in aligning the County Plan of work with expressed needs in the community, County priorities and Statewide objectives. This entire process has empowered and encouraged the Advisory Council to continue their work to make additional, positive impacts in Brunswick County.

 Person Reporting: Carolyn Shepherd     Location: Ashe   Date: 2012-06-25     

Mineral rights workshop

Mineral rights workshop

Several Ashe County citizens have been contacted by individuals going door to door wanting to purchase mineral rights. Cooperative Extension Ashe County Center was contacted by citizens wanting more information on selling their mineral rights. Environmental Law specialist from Extension came to Ashe and presented 2 workshops on Mineral Rights: What You Need to Know.

One participant who owns her home place of over 400 acres in Ashe County attended one of the workshops. She had learned some time ago that someone else owned the mineral rights to her property. She gained knowledge to help her in her negotiations with the entity that owns the mineral rights to her property.

Realtors who participated in the workshops gained knowledge they plan to use in their businesses. Agencies in the county who work with taxes and planning also attended and gained knowledge they can share with citizens who have questions about mineral rights. All participants gained knowledge about mineral rights and the issues around ownership of property.

Lessons Learned – The Mineral Rights sort of came and went. I know they were going door to door in some communities –but have heard little about it happening since midyear.

Person Reporting: Sam Groce     Location: Chatham    Date: 2012-01-06     

The Chatham County Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension conducts an annual Farm/Industry Tour in Chatham County which targets as its primary audience the non-farm and new residents of the county. The tour is designed to give participants a quick overview of the varied agricultural enterprises that are found within the county and the role they play in sustaining the counties’ economic base and making it an attractive and desirable place to live. The tour also allows for Cooperative Extension to showcase its role in not only sustaining the industry, but helping farmers and other related businesses to grow and flourish within the county.

Following the 2011 Farm/Industry Tour, tour participants indicated that they had a better understanding after the tour of the role of Cooperative Extension, the value of agriculture to the county and the economic impact that it provided. 100% of tour participants indicated that they would more actively support local farms and agricultural enterprises and would increase the amount of local food that they purchased.

Person Reporting: Steve Duckett     Location: Buncombe   Date: 2011-07-05     

Cooperative Extension in Buncombe County is working with the county planning department and community volunteers to create a county sustainability plan. This plan creates a structure for sustaining natural resources, community services, and infrastructure in the short, intermediate, and long term. This plan will be shared for input with community groups in the county to provide the best possible blueprint for future growth, prosperity, and the conservation of natural resources. The draft plan input meetings in the fall will provide residents the opportunity to be directly involved with shaping this plan to best meet the needs of the community. These input sessions will empower local residents to take an active hand in driving growth in the county in the manner that best suits residents.

Update: 2011-12-22: Buncombe County identified the need to develop a sustainability plan for the county. A committee of stakeholders representing all aspects of a sustainable community was identified. Issues included local food, farm preservation, obesity, community involvement, and several others that Extension expertise could help address successfully. This group developed a draft plan that was shared with the local community clubs in the county for comment. This system allowed 75 citizens in five different rural communities to have input in the plan which otherwise might have been dominated by urban interests. The greater community involvement provided by Extension contacts in the community resulted in a more viable plan for the whole county population of 230,000 individuals.

Person Reporting: Greg Traywick     Location: Cleveland   Date: 2011-12-13     

Cleveland County Fair

Cleveland County Fair

N.C. Cooperative Extension provided guidance and support to the Cleveland County Fair directors and management in the development of strategic plan that included a clearly defined vision, mission, and objectives.

Presented to the Cleveland County Commissioners on April 19, 2011, the plan outlined a series of short-term and long-term objectives aimed at strengthening marketing and public relations, community agricultural education, volunteerism, infrastructure, entertainment, and year-round facility use.

Endorsed by county government and embraced by Fair leadership, the plan led to a lease extension on the fairgrounds and served to unite Fair staff around a common sense of purpose and direction. The first Fair conducted under the plan (September 29 – October 8, 2011) was highly successful, attracting 175,797 fairgoers and receiving acclaim for a range of quality exhibits, livestock shows, and educational programs.

Milking a cow

Milking a cow at the Cleveland County Fair

Lessons Learned – Healthy organizations require constant attention and nurturing. They are shaped by the decisions their leaders make or fail to make. Strategic planning helps organizational leaders think critically about the impacts of taking action or failing to do so. 

By virtue of our commitment to improving quality of life in the communities we serve, leading the process of strategic planning comes natural to N.C. Cooperative Extension. We can provide trained staff, meeting space, communications, secretarial support, and other things that the organization needs to get started. Extension can also help identify other resources and guide the process to keep the planning process moving forward. By assisting other organizations with strategic planning, Cooperative Extension gains visibility in the local community and demonstrates value to the county funding partner.

Person Reporting: Cameron Lowe     Location: Currituck   Date: 2011-06-29 

According to a recent parks and recreation survey, residents have identified water access and multiuse play areas as a primary recreational need in Currituck County. Currituck Cooperative Extension is tasked with managing the county owned Currituck Rural Center.

The facility was originally designed for equine activities on a residential or small farm scale. Numerous improvements have been made to enhance equine residential and tourism activities and expand the availability to the public. To broaden the scope of the center, Currituck Cooperative Extension applied for a Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant.

The application included a plan for kayak access to the Currituck sound, marshland boardwalks with interpretive signage, picnic shelters and playground areas. An online public meeting was conducted to get citizen input on the plan. Public response was positive and despite the lack of PARTF funding, county commissioners elected to fully fund the project as planned. This represents a commitment of over $700,000 to meet a need expressed and affirmed by residents of Currituck County.

Person Reporting: Joan Reid     Location: Granville   Date: 2011-06-27

Communities need assistance in navigating complex issues such as dealing with changing economics, revenue structures and services, and are looking to Extension to respond. Sixteen Extension agents completed graduate level training in process management design taught by Extension Specialists. Cooperative Extension Administration provided financial and technical support that included books, resources, training and travel. These agents designed, implemented and evaluated a three-day training for Extension Professionals to build inter-organizational capacity.

These agents then trained 119 professionals to manage group process design management, which will empower the groups they work with to be more effective and efficient. The North Central and South Central District team conducted two three-day trainings. One agent stated, “I wish I had this training before now, I could have saved myself a year of work with the Cattleman’s Association.” Private Facilitators can charge up to $2,500/day. Extension Agents are now skilled to provide this process management design as part of their role in the county, saving county/state resources.


Persons Reporting: Janine Rywak and Lori Ivey   Locations: Anson and Stanly Date: 2011-06-22     

In response to local foods interests and requests from producers, consumers, and advisory groups, Cooperative Extension in the counties of Anson, Montgomery, Richmond, Stanly and Union in NC, along with Chesterfield County SC, have worked with twelve area growers to establish Farm Fresh Ventures Cooperative, a regional food hub serving the six counties.

This spring, Extension Agents assisted growers in establishing the cooperative as a legal entity, electing officers, adopting by-laws, and working with a cooperative paid employee. Through creative funding opportunities, Extension linked Farm Fresh Ventures with grant resources, securing $26,441 in start-up and marketing costs, allowing the sale of 123 18-week CSA subscriptions for a box of locally grown produce, and recruiting volunteers to assist with weekly aggregate site responsibilities. To date, in eight weeks of operation, Farm Fresh Ventures has brought in $20,372 in revenue and paid $13,974 back to local producers in direct sales.

Lessons Learned:  It takes a lot of time, meetings, and taking two steps forward with one back to organize a project like this. However, when the light finally appeared at the end of the tunnel, there was a lot of pride from all parties. Our group basically had to bite the bullet and say, “We are going to do this, no more putting off for the right time and combination of players.” 

The greatest satisfaction was in getting producers from neighboring counties at the same table. When they started talking, planning, coming up with recommendations, there was an energy in the room that was unlike one we had experienced. And it was contagious. 

There were some things that we had to do in Extension that I had rather not have, but it took that the first season to get the ball rolling. Going into season two, Extension made it clear that we would be pulling back from certain aspects of the operation, and the producers stepped up to the plate. They took ownership of this project.

We had many partners throughout the project, and it took all of them to pull this off. It also took about $25,000 in start-up funds through grants and in-kind contributions. We cleared enough the first year to have a stash for start-up going into season two.

The marketing that Cooperative Extension has received for being a catalyst of the project cannot be understated. You can’t buy the kind of visibility we have had. And once again, Extension is credited for bringing something great to the community.

Farm Fresh Ventures is now selling 2014 subscriptions for Christmas presents. Great idea, huh?


Person Reporting: Kittrane Sanders     Location: Harnett    Date: 2011-12-29

Success begins once a person has made their mind up to change. While success is measured on an individual basis most of the time, personnel, resources and care goes into that success of any community goal. Community leaders in the Riverside Community collaborated with Harnett County Cooperative Extension to assist in mobilizing for community change. This community has seen an increase in crime, drugs and youth dropout. With the help of seven community leaders, Cooperative Extension provided workshops to nineteen citizens in the Riverside Community on how to approach issues and concerns gather from data obtain from a community survey. A small community center has been donated to address youth dropout and workforce readiness.

To date seven adults have been trained in construction work, these individuals have the potential to earn $40,000 a year or more. A storage building constructed by them and sold for $1,500.00 will provide revenue for community and economic development projects. Pre and post-test indicated working relationships formed with community organizations/agencies, an increase in capacity building among community leaders, and increase number of volunteers recruited in community coalitions.


Person Reporting: Bill Skelton     Location: Haywood   Date: 2012-01-04   

Much of Haywood County is rural. Communities here often rely on themselves for help, for community improvement, for activities for their citizens, and for advocacy with elected bodies and government agencies. The six active community clubs in Haywood work with Extension to affect change in all these areas through quarterly council meetings, and most clubs meet on a monthly basis. Projects have included farmland preservation, after school and summer youth programs, facility improvements, and food distributions. Two of Haywood’s communities were recognized by WNC Communities for their exemplary work, recognizing Fine’s Creek as a Community of Distinction, and Bethel Rural Community Organization as a Community of Promise.

Person Reporting: Kevin Starr     Location: Lincoln   Date: 2011-12-30   

Cooperative Extension started the Lincoln County Apple Festival in 1972. Today, Extension serves as the coordinating agency for the event, working closely with the festival’s board of directors. While all Extension staff members contribute to the festival’s success, our Administrative Secretary takes the lead role by handling the entire registration process and answering thousands of questions each year.

The County Extension Director facilitated the development of a new festival website which received over 9,000 visits in 2011. This year’s festival drew approximately 60,000 visitors to downtown Lincolnton, resulting in gross sales to vendors in the range of $150,000-$200,000. This is the largest community event in Lincoln County and a major fund-raiser for many non-profit groups.

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