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Foothills Regional Commission Newsletter
September 13th, 2021

Foothills Regional Commission Receives $210K EDA Grant

Foothills Regional Commission is pleased to announce that we have received a grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) in the amount of $210,000 to support regional economic development efforts and to develop a new 5-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). 

This award comes shortly after our designation as an Economic Development District (EDD) by the EDA. Foothills is dedicated to enhancing the economic vitality of the Foothills Region, and will work with all of our partners to put this funding to productive use. 

2020 Census Count Question Resolution Program

The goal of the decennial census is to count all the people living in the United States, count them only once and in the right place. Although the U.S. Census Bureau strives to meet that goal, each decennial census is unique, and none has been (or can be) perfect. So, the Bureau established a challenge program - the Count Question Resolution (CQR).
The CQR is an opportunity for state, local, and tribal area highest elected officials to challenge their jurisdiction’s census counts after detailed data is delivered. This challenge system is limited in scope but provides an opportunity to improve the census data quality by correcting errors related to geographic boundaries, geo-coding errors, and processing errors relating to data already collected in the census (e.g., correcting for duplication). These updates will assure the accurate distribution of federal funds and provide improved data for policy decision-making. Plus, when a challenge is successful, the new data will be used to calculate any subsequent population estimates by the Bureau. However, it will not revise apportionment, redistricting, or other data products, such as the Demographic and Housing Characteristics File.
At this time, the full scope of the CQR process is not known. The Census Bureau is exploring options and the feasibility of expanding the scope of the CQR program and plans to publish the Federal Register notice with a 30-day public comment period in Fall 2021.
Census will not start accepting challenges until January 2022, and the Program is slated to remain open until June 30, 2023. The staff here at FRC will be keeping a close watch out for the Federal Register notice and any other information or training on the Program. We also plan to work with interested jurisdictions on their challenges.

---Taken from a blog post on the NCSL’s website

More Census Answers

For those who still have questions about the 2020 Census and its impact on our state: The NC League of Municipalities (NCLM) is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, Sept. 21, at 2 p.m. with N.C. State Demographer Michael Cline and N.C. Census Liaison and State Data Census Coordinator Bob Coats.

The hosts will offer brief presentations but are primarily holding the webinar to answer as many questions as they can from local officials. This free event is open to any local official in the state—both cities and counties. You can register online here.

WNC Local Business Survey Highlights Paths to Recovery

The results are in for Mountain BizWorks' 2021 Local Business Impact Survey which garnered input from over 450 WNC small business owners. Some key takeaways are:

  • Only one-third of businesses have recovered to pre-pandemic revenue levels, however business outlook has greatly improved over the last 6 months.
  • Pockets of distress remain and rural-based businesses and businesses owned by people of color are recovering at a slower pace.
  • The housing and broader affordability crisis is squeezing local businesses.
  • Responding businesses reported 1,395 jobs were created, another 2,227 jobs were retained, and our businesses were actively hiring an additional 570 jobs across the region.

You can explore the full results here.

Mountain BizWorks also announced its line-up of Fall courses and events, which seek to enable WNC Entrepreneurs to start, grow, and thrive. Full details are available here.

NC 2021 Educational Attainment Report Released

MyFutureNC has released its annual Educational Attainment Report, which captures the organization's work and the progress toward the state’s educational attainment of having two million North Carolinians between the ages of 25 and 44 hold a post-secondary, high quality degree or credential by 2030.

The report highlights the havoc COVID wreaked on education and workforce systems and shows that it significantly impacted the state's student pipeline. However, it also stresses that, even pre-COVID-19, the state faced a skills gap crisis.

MyFutureNC emphasizes in its report the urgent need to increase educational attainment across the state. The full report is available here, with its executive summary here.

Opportunities to Learn

The following training events and webinars are coming up soon:

  • Vacant, Abandoned and Deteriorated Property (VAD) Academy - The Center for Community Progress is offering the 2021 virtual VAD Academy — an online training for public, private, nonprofit, and community leaders whose work and communities are impacted by challenges related to VADs — free of charge this year. The training is Tuesday, Sept. 28. More information, including on registration, can be found here.
  • The Complete Neighborhood Toolkit - The G.A. Office of Downtown Development is offering this two-part workshop virtually Tuesday, Sept. 14, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 16, 1-4 p.m. In it, Eric Kronberg, "the zoning whisperer," will illustrate how your city can shift towards small-scale, incremental development, resulting in more inclusive outcomes that better serve trends in lifestyle, aging, and family configurations. He will also discuss smaller-scale downtown redevelopment and increased housing options to support businesses. Registration info is available here.
  • Leverage NC Webinars - The NC Main Street folks, along with State Historic Resources and the League of Municipalities, have been hosting a slew of live webinars relevant to small community struggles. Registration is available here. An archive of previous webinars is here. Upcoming events include:
    • Affordable Housing and the Intersection with Downtown with Don Rypkema. Sept. 14, 10 a.m.
    • Redeveloping Suburbs and Commercial Corridors with Ed McMahon. (This is the fourth in a series. The previous three are available in the webinar archives.) Sept. 29th, 1 p.m.
    • Parks and Public Spaces with Mitchell Silver. Oct. 13th, 10 a.m.
  • Rural Transportation Virtual Workshops - The following virtual events are hosted by the National Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP) and developed in coordination with the NADO Research Foundation:
    • Website Builder 3.0 Webinar. Sept. 9 & Sept. 23, 2-3:30 p.m. Register and get more info here.
    • Rural Transit Service Planning and Route Design. Sept. 14 2-3:30 p.m. Register and get more info here.
    • Rural and Small Urban Mobility Innovations Virtual Workshop. Sept. 20, 2-4 p.m. Register and get more info here.
    • Transportation Management Association (TMA) Workshop. Sept. 22, 3-4:30 p.m. Register and get more info here.

Gov. Cooper Proclaims September National Senior Center Month

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper has proclaimed September National Senior Center Month 2021, recognizing the contributions of the 169 senior centers in the state. The full proclamation can be viewed in full here.

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