Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Invest in Small Towns and Rural Communities, Gov. Cooper Urges

<p>North Carolina can bring opportunity and prosperity to all parts of North Carolina through smart investments in economic development and good jobs, Governor Roy Cooper said Wednesday.</p>
Mar 13, 2019

Click HERE to learn how Gov. Cooper’s budget benefits rural NC communities

North Carolina can bring opportunity and prosperity to all parts of North Carolina through smart investments in economic development and good jobs, Governor Roy Cooper said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Main Streets conference today in Salisbury, Gov. Cooper outlined his plan to strengthen and revitalize North Carolina rural communities. The governor's budget proposal,

Investments for a Determined North Carolina, includes $145 million for rural economic development, expanded Internet access, and affordable housing for rural communities statewide, as well as investments in job training and education.

“Our small towns and rural communities are wonderful places to live, work and raise a family,” said Gov. Cooper. “My budget includes plans to strengthen our 80 rural counties and help them overcome challenges.” 

Supporting Rural Economies

Gov. Cooper’s proposed budget creates the Rural Investments Strengthening Economies (RISE) Program, investing $15 million over two years to revitalize communities and encourage companies to locate or expand in North Carolina’s 80 rural counties. It also provides a combined $13 million to support rural economic development projects through infrastructure improvements and site development and includes $55 million for locally-identified economic development projects.

Gov. Cooper also wants to get more North Carolinians trained for the jobs of today and tomorrow. His plan to start NC GROW—Getting Ready for Opportunities in the Workforce—would provide scholarships to help people get community college degrees and job training for in-demand jobs. Investments in public school construction and renovation and local water and sewer infrastructure, through the governor's Invest NC bond, will also help rural communities and get hammers swinging in counties across the state.

Expanding Medicaid, another key priority for the governor, will particularly benefit small towns and rural areas. It would bring $4 billion into North Carolina’s economy, create an estimated 40,000 jobs, provide more affordable health care for 500,000 people, and bolster struggling hospitals in rural communities.

Expanding Internet Access to Underserved Areas

With high-speed internet access critical for economic and educational opportunities, Gov. Cooper’s budget includes $35 million for efforts to bring broadband internet service to areas with no or slow service, encourage private providers to develop broadband in underserved areas, and close the homework gap for students without home internet access.

Investing in Affordable Housing

A shortage of quality, affordable housing is also a challenge for many communities. Gov. Cooper’s proposed budget adds an extra $2.3 million for the Housing Trust Fund, $20 million for the Workforce Housing Loan Program, $7.2 million for the Community Living Housing Fund to increase access to housing for people with disabilities, and $6.5 million for Rural Neighborhood Revitalization grants to help local governments improve neighborhoods.

“These investments will help rural communities attract more businesses, create more good jobs, and improve their quality of life.” Gov. Cooper said.

The investments in his budget help build on Gov. Cooper's Hometown Strong initiative, an innovative partnership between state government and rural communities that works to revitalize local economies and improve infrastructure.

Click HERE to learn more on how Gov. Cooper’s budget supports rural North Carolina.


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