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Facts That Matter Blog

At the ncIMPACT Initiative, we ground our research in the challenges faced by North Carolina’s state and local leaders and their communities. Through compelling story telling, the Facts That Matter blog shares data and evidence about collaborative problem solving efforts that chart a path forward in communities across the state. We share these stories for the benefit of other communities in pursuit of our mission to improve the lives of North Carolinians.


November 15, 2022

Made in ENC, Collaborations on Talent and Economic Development

One of the significant issues plaguing rural communities in the U.S. is the ongoing brain drain of young people and skilled professionals from rural areas to urban areas, resulting in a loss of talent and economic potential. East Carolina University (ECU) has stepped up with several strategies to retain talented young adults who are excited to stay and contribute to rural communities in eastern North Carolina. RISE29 is one of ECU’s most innovative programs, where undergraduate students develop entrepreneurial skills within a supportive setting. ECU then uses its strong connections with regional industries to bolster the strength of businesses in the area by offering free student support.

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October 21, 2022

ECSU Promotes Innovative Success in Students and Region

Northeastern North Carolina faces clear economic challenges, including a notable lag in employment growth.  Some unique assets are responding to the challenges in promising ways. The region’s Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) has several programs helping to prepare students for jobs that exist and create ones that do not. The university is ranked as the number one historically black college and university for economic mobility, partly because it is intentional about investing in its students in ways that promote the region.

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October 11, 2022

Innovating Mental Health Supports

Since the COVID pandemic began, the nation has experienced rapid growth in the number of adults experiencing anxiety or depression. In early 2021, CDC surveys revealed that these symptoms had increased by about 27 percent since 2019. In the wake of this rise, more people are talking about the importance of mental health. This growing acceptance and greater transparency have helped pave the way for more innovative solutions from both the public and private sectors.

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September 22, 2022

The Ongoing Workforce Shortage

Workforce shortages have been on the rise across the United States over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic shifted labor markets. Local solutions are emerging as communities collaborate on efforts to connect more people with jobs.

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July 24, 2022

Resilient Agriculture

The agriculture industry is at risk as farmers experience issues related to increased rates of rainfall and droughts, and increased frequency of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes, which cause flooding and other hazards. All of these weather-related issues threaten to decrease crop yields, thus increasing economic losses and hardships for farmers. Many farmers find benefits of incorporating resilient agriculture techniques to mitigate these risks.

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July 18, 2022

Working for a Living Wage 

Nearly half of Americans, do not earn a living wage, which can be defined as the income necessary for a person or family to not only meet their basic needs, such as food and shelter, but also provide stability and financial independence needed for a good quality of life. Several restaurants and organizations in North Carolina are collaborating to pursue solutions in their industries.  

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July 11, 2022

Veterans Closing the Skills Gap 

As the state continues to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, communities face labor shortages as skill gaps and hiring challenges hinder the economic recovery. Fortunately, veterans returning to civilian life are searching for careers where they can use the skills they gained while in service, thus providing a potential solution to the shortage. 

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July 1, 2022

Rural Responses to the Opioid Crisis 

The opioid epidemic presents challenges for the state’s rural communities due to the limited resources and treatment options available in less populated areas. In some rural counties, people are more likely to experience an opioid overdose than a heart attack. Several collaboratives in rural communities across the state are pursuing innovative solutions to mitigate the opioid epidemic in their communities.  

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June 28, 2022

Summer Musings: Lessons on Partnering With Communities

We support cohorts of communities working in tandem with our approach and sharing their experiences along the way in peer learning forums. As university partners, we design the process for individual teams to build collective capacity to address their challenge, facilitate the peer-learning forums, identify needs for and secure specific substantive or technical skills for individual teams or the entire cohort, support implementation of evidence-based strategies for addressing the challenge, and institute evaluation processes that each team executes. The lessons described are drawn from three projects: the Opioid Response Project (ORP), myFutureNC Local Educational Attainment Collaboratives, and Our State, Our Work: Connecting Young Adults with Their Future.

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June 27, 2022

Missing Middle Model to Ease Housing Shortage in Triangle Region

The Triangle region has seen housing and apartment prices rise dramatically. The main strategy municipalities are using to address these issues is the Missing Middle Model for housing, which can be defined as “a range of house-scaled buildings with multiple units – compatible in scale and form with detached single-family homes – located in a walkable neighborhood.” Increased housing options are necessary to meet the demand and ensure affordable housing is available for the region’s residents.

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