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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues
News & Media
May 22, 2019

Institute Insights: Homegrown Tools: Cultivating and Curating Economic Success

A database developed by NCGrowth helps connect communities with information and inspiration.

When methane gas emissions from a closed landfill threatened the town of Dillsboro, North Carolina, the small rural community on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park found a creative way to turn the town’s environmental predicament into an economic asset. Town officials built the Jackson County Green Energy Park, a collection of artisans’ studios, and converted the landfill gas into energy to power the studios.

Dillsboro’s economic win-win is just one of dozens featured on Homegrown Tools, a new website that charts case studies of small communities around the U.S. that have successfully stimulated private investment and job creation. The web tool connects public officials, practitioners and researchers to successful small-town economic development strategies and is meant to inspire small towns to leverage their unique assets.

Homegrown Tools is managed by NCGrowth, an affiliate center of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill, in partnership with the UNC School of Government, the NC Rural Center, the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning and the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

The tool lets users perform customized searches for case studies relevant to their community. Users can search by development strategy, geographic area or specific attributes such as population, community strengths and desired outcomes. As NCGrowth continues to work with communities in North Carolina and beyond, they’ll develop additional case studies to add to the database.

Although the majority of case studies currently in Homegrown Tools are clustered geographically in the Southeast, the lessons they provide translate readily to other regions of the country.

“Homegrown Tools will be a valuable support for the Federal Reserve in our mission to strengthen low- and moderate-income communities nationwide through data-supported investment strategies,” said Jeanne Milliken Bonds of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. “These case studies are great examples of local, innovative and proven approaches to fostering economic growth.”

For more information, visit homegrowntools.unc.edu.

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