The recommendation by the McCrory administration to eliminate all funding for the N.C. Community Development Initiative after 20 years of state investment is a surprising move for a governor committed to economic growth and job creation. It simply does not make good business or economic sense.
The initiative and its network of business and community partners have used a relatively small state investment over the past two decades to create 11,000 jobs, build $600 million in commercial development and affordable housing, and help more than 50,000 North Carolinians become more financially secure. We achieve these results in areas of high unemployment and low business investment – no small feat.
The cut of state investment in community economic development would have little impact on the state’s overall financial condition – it represents only 2 cents for every $100 of the state’s $20.1 billion budget. But it will deal a devastating blow to the organizations we fund, the communities we serve, the people and businesses counseled and supported, and the local companies that build and supply community economic development projects across the state.
It threatens nearly 300 jobs at our partner organizations as well as the 1,000-plus jobs their work creates each year.
But that is only the beginning. Suddenly cutting off state investment in this work puts at risk nearly $165 million in assets under management by the initiative and its network of community partners. The effect would ripple through communities already struggling from a weak economy. The commercial and housing developments and community projects our partners build and manage are the cornerstones of economic development in the communities in which we operate and a lifeline for the many small businesses that service and supply them.
We understand that the administration has already reversed course on reducing funding for another nonprofit that promotes the furniture industry in North Carolina. We hope the governor will take a similar approach toward community economic development.
The N.C. Community Development Initiative and its partners play a critical role in promoting economic growth in the most challenging areas of the state. Our expertise, innovative solutions, statewide infrastructure and community investments are needed now more than ever.
Abdul Rasheed is chief executive officer of the N.C. Community Development Initiative ( ncinitiative.org/).