A Publication of
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Office of Economic and Business Development
Jesse L. White, Jr., Ph. D., Director
Joshua W. Levy, Ph. D., Assistant Director
Sarah Butzen, Right Brain Strategies
Table of Contents
Creating and Launching the Project
Lessons Part 1 – How Small Colleges Can Create Economic Development Partnerships
Lessons Part 2 – Building Economic Development Capacity at Small Private Colleges
Lessons Part 3 – The Role of the University Partner
Inside Back Cover
The Appalachian College Community Economic Development There are many people to thank. The Jessie Ball duPont
Partnership (ACCEDP) was born out of a conversation late Fund invested in our project through their financial support.
on a Friday afternoon in the summer of 2005. Alice Brown, Alice Brown and her staff at the ACA worked to interest the
founder and long time president of the Appalachian College colleges and to fund the student research projects. Mark
Association (ACA), a consortium of thirty-six small private Meares of our development office encouraged us and helped
colleges in Central Appalachia, called me to discuss possible with our application; and, former Chancellor James Moeser
partnerships between the University of North Carolina at put it at the top of Carolina’s “wish list” to the Fund. We also
Chapel Hill and the ACA. Having recently concluded nine thank our partners at the four colleges — Mars Hill College in
years as Federal Co-Chairman of the Appalachian Regional North Carolina, Ferrum College in Virginia, Kentucky Christian
Commission, I was intimately familiar with the region and College in Kentucky, and King College in Tennessee — for
with the untapped potential of higher education to help their commitment and incredibly hard work. The Advisory
develop this neglected part of America. Committee gave of their time in launching the project, and
The idea that emerged from that conversation was to test a they are listed with our thanks in the Appendix. Many of the
new idea: could a major research university help small private consultants and speakers gave willingly of their time, and they
colleges establish partnerships with their communities to too are listed in the Appendix. And, finally, the project would
promote economic development? In March of 2006 our Office not have been successful without the stewardship of Ben Mauk
of Economic and Business Development (OEBD) submitted and Josh Levy, assistant directors here in OEBD, both of whom
an application for funding to the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and took personal ownership of the process, administration, and
received almost $200,000, matched by ACA funds and UNC- outcomes of this project. Likewise, our bright student interns
Chapel Hill resources. Total resources committed to this project contributed time, energy, and intellect: Caitlin Winwood and
were about $375,000. The project began in earnest in August Michael Davis. And, finally, our principal consultant, Sarah
of 2006 with the first meeting of the Advisory Committee and Butzen, was the glue that held together the final couple of years
ended in September 2010 with this final assessment and report. of this experiment and is the principal author of this report.
What began as a two-year project took four, in large part Was ACCEDP worth the time and money and would we
because it was unique and experimental. We were unable to recommend the model? The answer is an unequivocal “yes.”
promise success at the outset, but what we did promise was In fact, we call upon our sister research universities all across
an opportunity to learn about this process. We knew that the United States to consider partnering with other colleges
human capital was the most important ingredient in economic and universities to help unleash the intellectual power of the
development and that Appalachia had a robust network of precious assets of post-secondary education. There is still much
institutions of higher education. We also knew that many of to learn and much to do. But the future depends on this work.
these islands of intellectual capital were untapped and often
unconnected to their home communities. We felt strongly Jesse L. White, Jr., Ph. D.
that by helping smaller colleges deploy their assets, a research Director
university could broaden the impact of its own research and Office of Economic and Business Development
expertise. The Fund stuck with us through fits and starts as we
all learned invaluable lessons, many of which are presented in
this final report.
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 3
Executive Summary Broadband Initiative, participating in GIS- and community-
The UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Economic and Business based research to improve wireless broadband access for
Development and the Appalachian College Association recently residents and businesses of Franklin County, VA.
completed the Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Kentucky Christian University (Grayson, KY) worked with
Development Partnership (ACCEDP). Funded by the Jessie Ball public, private, and non-profit leaders from Carter County, KY
duPont Foundation, the Appalachian College Association, and to facilitate countywide collaboration on community economic
the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Partnership development issues. Although KCU did succeed in creating
aimed to strengthen local and regional economies by creating a new level of cooperation between two county Chambers of
customized, sustainable campus-community collaborations for Commerce that historically competed with one another, they
economic development. Specifically, the Partnership sought were not able to proceed to the project implementation portion
to help small private colleges develop their own capacity to be of the grant.
economic development assets for their communities. King College (Bristol, TN) partnered with the Bristol, TN
Four ACA institutions were chosen, through a competitive Chamber of Commerce to create the Bristol Business Resource
process, to participate in the pilot project. Over the course of Center, which offers guidance to entrepreneurs seeking to
three years, the Office of Economic and Business Development access the area’s robust but sometimes confusing array of
provided these four colleges with training, technical assistance, existing resources for small businesses. In addition to creating
and planning and implementation funding, while the ACA web content and holding informational and networking
sponsored student internships to assist with research and events, students also helped survey businesses and carry out
implementation. Each college worked to build partnerships internships in local businesses. Cross-border collaborations
with its community that would work on a specific, community- with Bristol, VA have also proved successful.
identified economic development need. Mars Hill College (Mars Hill, NC) partnered with Mountain
Ferrum College (Ferrum, VA) created the Community Bizworks, Madison Farms, the Madison County Arts Council,
Development Alliance, a group of public, private, and non- and the Very Small Business Center to support and promote
profit partners, and selected as its first project the Last Mile arts-based and value-added agriculture entrepreneurship in
page 4 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Madison County, NC. Mars Hill College faculty and students work, the needs, goals, and priorities that determine what the
offered design and business services to local entrepreneurs and partnership will do should come equally from both sides.
supported start-up and local arts initiatives.
5) The college team should be aware of any potential sources of
The pilot project focused on three principal goals.
conflict in the economic development community. In almost any
First, it had to help the colleges demonstrate that economic
community, there will be some issues or some relationships
development partnerships could complement, not compete
that continue to hold tension from past conflict. It is easy
with, their basic academic missions. Second, it had to capitalize
for colleges entering the scene to stumble upon these and
on the assets of small colleges — flexibility, commitment,
possibly derail their own efforts, so they should exercise
experiential learning — and help address the obstacles — time,
caution until they are familiar with the landscape.
funding, and expertise. Third, the project had to serve a pilot
function, providing findings on the most effective practices for 6) The partnership’s first undertaking should set the stage for
the small colleges and for their university partner. success. The first project should have a clearly defined,
The pilot project succeeded — though certainly with some achievable goal, and allow for widely engaging the community
unexpected results — on all three counts. On the last count, at-large as well as the college faculty, staff, and students.
all who participated learned a great deal along the way, and an
7) At the end of the day, the process and the partnership need to
intensive review and assessment of the ACCEDP helped draw
be backed by results. All of the above lessons have to do with
out the most valuable lessons to be gleaned from the project.
how the college goes about developing its partnership —
The lessons relate to three elements of the pilot: how small
appropriately, because that’s what the college partners are
colleges can form economic development partnerships, how
learning. There does have to be some recognizable impact to
the colleges can use these experiences to build institutional
show the community partners that the partnership is worth
capacity for economic development, and how universities
continuing, but the impact can take the form of greater
can best support the colleges as they launch their economic
capacity or stronger relationships among players.
How Small Colleges Can Create Economic Building Economic Development Capacity at
Development Partnerships Small Private Colleges
1) The first step is the greatest, if it takes you off “the island.” 1) Community economic development engagement must be
Community partners consistently evoked the image of the shown to be relevant to the college’s educational mission. Without
island to describe the isolated small college that dwells in establishing a clear linkage, community partnerships will be
academia more than in the community. Though the gulf vulnerable during lean budget years. They must be shown —
between this college and its community can seem vast, the and made — both supportive of, and integral to, the college’s
college can bridge it simply by showing that it wants to be a academic character.
productive community partner.
2) Relevance to educational goals means relevance to curriculum,
2) The college needs to understand the community’s economic academic rewards, achievement, and advancement. If the
development history in order to build on what is already in place. college wants to promote faculty and student involvement
This understanding is critical for the colleges to achieve in community partnerships, it will need to create academic
economic impact, develop productive partnerships, and find structures and opportunities that allow them to spend their
a specific economic development project that draws on the time in this way.
college’s specific strengths.
3) Creating a new organization can help solidify the college-
3) The colleges’ partnerships should be open and transparent. community partnership. Turning the partnership into a new
Holding open meetings at which all stakeholders are welcome, organization can expand and sustain the new capacity gains
and making decisions openly, will help to maintain the good — as long as the structure of the organization is determined
will that the college creates with its first step off “the island.” by the clearly identified goals and activities.
4) The college-community partnerships should be a two-way 4) Broader campus involvement gives a better footing to capacity
street. Many colleges are accustomed to one-way relationships gains. The college should make explicit efforts to involve
in which they offer volunteers or other services to the faculty and students beyond the departments or centers that
community. But for an economic development partnership to seem best suited to managing the program. Multi-disciplinary
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 5
and diverse engagement can give the partnership a broad, learning year, may improve the value and applicability of the
solid foundation for sustaining new capacity. support.
5) There’s more than one right way of doing almost everything.
The Role of the University
There are many different approaches to supporting colleges
1) The first year of a university’s work with a small college should in their work, including project development, technical
be considered the college’s learning year, or the period of project assistance, and funding. Universities must be particularly
development. Effective program implementation may first mindful of the administrative burdens imposed by the grant
require a period of trial-and-error to best identify needs and process on smaller colleges.
opportunities within the target community.
Improvements can and surely will be made to the process of
2) The college and university should work together throughout the creating and supporting partnerships such as the one piloted
process to define and develop their partnership. Responsiveness here, as other colleges and universities take up the challenge.
by the university to the needs and limitations of small colleges But the experiences of these four colleges show that with
can reduce administrative and procedural frustrations. Clear a willing set of participants, sufficient time, and access to
and predictable structures and an emphasis on organization specialized guidance and expertise, small private colleges can
can facilitate the partnership-forming process. transform their role in and impact on their communities. From
being an untapped resource, or “the college on the hill,” they
3) Technical assistance is the most important resource, and
can become an integral asset to their community’s economic
should be the most intensive during the college’s first year. Guided
life. And along the way, they may discover an untapped resource
feedback in the preliminary research and planning stages
for themselves: all the ways in which community partnerships
can reduce the need for additional assistance during the
can strengthen the relevance, vigor, and distinctiveness of
their academic curricula. Collaborative, two-way partnerships
4) When it comes to training and materials, less is more. between college and community hold the promise of real, even
Providing colleges with resources targeted to their specific transformative, impact for both partners.
needs, and delivering these materials over the course of the
page 6 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Introduction industry and skills training programs of community colleges.
Small private colleges also have assets to bring to the table, but
Despite its wealth of natural beauty and bountiful resources,
the challenges they face and the contributions they can make are
Appalachia is a region left behind in the prosperity of the last
substantially different. For one thing, they are small — they have
century. The imposing mountains too often look down on
more limited resources and less economic development capacity.
abandoned mines and factories and empty storefronts. The
Economic development professionals have traditionally looked
contrast is especially stark in Central Appalachia , in which
for scale — the bigger the better — and research universities and
every indicator of well-being is worse than the national and
two-year colleges have offered more large-scale opportunities.
regional averages: higher poverty, higher unemployment, lower
Another obstacle to their involvement has been that they, unlike
per capita income, poorer health, lower educational attainment,
public universities and colleges, are not called by definition to
and deficits in infrastructure.
make a difference to their community. Some private colleges
The region has been working to identify and deploy all
do choose to develop good community relationships, but many
resources and assets that could help it grow, develop, thrive, and
more are seen, both internally and externally, as being in their
compete. But have any been overlooked or underdeveloped? The
community but not of it.
asset this project examines is a rich network of small private
Despite these hurdles, however, these colleges have many
colleges that dot the hills and valleys of Central Appalachia.
advantages as partners in economic development.
Post-secondary education has been an increasingly important
economic development tool in the past twenty years, but the
Strengths and Assets of the Small Private
attention has focused on public research universities, land grant
universities, and community colleges. Very little economic
development work has involved small private colleges (some Small private colleges are centers of advanced learning and
1,300 nationwide with enrollments under 2,000).1 practice. The greatest resource of small private colleges is, of
The purpose of the Appalachian College Community course, their students and faculty. The faculty of small private
Economic Development Partnership (ACCEDP) was (1) to find colleges can have active research agendas and continue to
ways to create partnerships among four of these colleges (Mars expand their mastery in their field throughout their careers
Hill College in North Carolina, Ferrum College in Virginia, (Seifert et al, 2007). Some argue that these colleges are more
King College in Tennessee, and Kentucky Christian University conducive to certain types of research because of their flexible
in Kentucky) and their respective communities to promote leave policies, smaller bureaucracies, and greater academic
economic development and (2) to discover methods for a major freedoms. This research creates the precious intellectual capital
research university to facilitate this process (the University of so often lacking in these depressed communities.
North Carolina at Chapel Hill). This report begins by laying out Students are an effective means of putting these intellectual
the rationale for the project, provides a narrative description of resources to work in the community. Students at small
how it worked, and ends with lessons learned in three domains: private colleges are as likely to do hands-on research as their
how the colleges build partnerships with communities, how the counterparts in large research universities (Hu et al, 2007), but
colleges institutionalize capacity, and how universities support are more likely to do this research in close contact with faculty
this work. mentors (Seifert et al 2010). Students at small colleges who are
deployed on community-based projects are thus close to sources
Rationale of expertise and guidance. The engaged work of faculty and
students is often driven by an energetic desire to demonstrate
Small private colleges are an untapped source for any region’s
and bolster the relevance of their liberal arts education to real-
most important economic asset: knowledge. For the last
world opportunities (Schneider 2008).
two decades, knowledge itself has been recognized as one
Post-secondary education has come under increasing
of the most critical ingredients for economic growth, and
pressure to show the relevance of all curricula, including liberal
higher education as the most important way of creating and
arts, to economic outcomes, and the current recession has
concentrating that knowledge. Institutions of higher education
only increased the pressure. Many small private colleges have
are increasingly seen not only as cultural centers and magnets
responded by reinvigorating their curricula with hands-on,
for migration, but also as creators of the intellectual energy that
powers economic development. Their impact is seen in the
Regions defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
technology commercialization from research universities, the Source: National Center for Education Statistics
knowledge transfer systems of land grant universities, and the
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 7
problem-based learning and community engagement through tie to the outer world of academia. This dual citizenship allows
which students can learn by doing (Kuh 2007; Arenella et al, them to bring fresh options to the table, reinvigorate stalled
2008). Many colleges, including those in this study, are using debates with new perspectives, provide a neutral perspective or
the liberal arts tradition to bring a creative, multidisciplinary meeting ground, present expertise that carries the imprimatur
approach to specific problems, showing how a liberal arts of academic research, and in other ways offer the advantages of
approach can actually enhance relevance to community needs. an external player (Leiderman et al, 2003).
Small private colleges can be simultaneously insiders and Small private colleges can act flexibly, quickly, and
outsiders. Small private colleges have a kind of dual citizenship independently. More than other types of higher education
between their communities and the world of academia. They institutions, small private colleges are able to make the kinds of
are often closely connected to their communities; in fact, many independent adjustments that enable their students and faculty
of them draw much of their student body from the surrounding to engage more easily with their communities. For example,
region (NCES 2008). Their faculty tend to be strongly engaged if a college needs to offer new classes around a particular
in their communities and proportionally do more community- economic development project for its community, it can do so
based research than their counterparts at research universities. fairly quickly. Some can even make changes to its student and
(Bloomgarden and O’Meara, 2007). faculty rewards and incentives systems to support the college’s
At the same time, however, they do not officially belong to the community economic development work.
community in the way that public agencies, public educational Small private colleges are often placed exactly where they
institutions, and nonprofit organizations do, and they have a are needed most. And, finally, it should be stressed that these
colleges are sometimes the only asset of intellectual
capital in remote rural areas and small towns. If
one looks at a map of Central Appalachia, this
distribution of intellectual capital stands out as
badly needed resources in underdeveloped and
often distressed regions.
Benefits of Partnership for the Small
Small private colleges also have a great deal to gain
from entering into the economic development
activities of their local community and region. The
most obvious, of course, is the potential educational
benefit. The evidence is clear that experiential
learning and community engagement that are linked
to classroom study improve educational outcomes.
(Terpstra and Honoree, 2009 — among many
others). This effect has been demonstrated repeatedly
with regard to students’ academic performance and
longer-term outcomes (Seifert et al, 2010). A Ferrum
College student sums up the ways in which project-
based learning in the field pushes the students’
The GIS online mapping was definitely a
learning experience…I’d have to go through
several different avenues, figure out the
problem and fix the problem. That’s one skill
that will be invaluable in the future: screwing
up several times before you find the path.
page 8 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Even within the span of this pilot project, the students who be living and learning for four years (Fischer, 2008). A derelict
participated are already reporting its impact on life after downtown repels prospective students as much as green spaces
college: “I feel so much better going to job interviews, after this and late-night coffeehouses attract them. A college’s investment
internship,” reported a Mars Hill College intern. A Kentucky in the vitality of its community can be a wise investment in its
Christian University (KCU) intern who has already found a own future.
job attributes his success to his experiences in the community, How can major research universities facilitate this process?
saying that he learned communication skills in the field he Research universities that engage in economic development
could never have developed in the classroom, and that these work have access to extensive specialized expertise and
are a primary reason he feels he had little trouble finding a job resources, which are outside the reach of most small private
after graduation. colleges. A university with a high-level economic development
In fact, community engagement directly furthers the college’s profile can provide access to these resources, as well as
academic mission by enhancing experiences and outcomes for mentoring and guidance to small private colleges that are new
both students and faculty. Academic engagement with their to economic development. But, here too, exploring the ways
community is connected to increased job satisfaction for faculty, in which research universities can work with the colleges is
an effect intensified when community engagement is integrated new territory, almost totally unexamined. How can a larger
with faculty’s academic and service responsibilities (Kennedy et university help small private colleges develop their capacity
al, 2009; Bloomgarden and O’Meara, 2007). Faculty satisfaction to be valuable, closely engaged players in their communities’
in turn boosts the quality and effectiveness of their teaching and economic development? The following section describes how
longevity at the college (ibid). the Office of Economic and Business Development (OEBD) at
Finally, colleges’ fates are bound up with the fates of their the University of North Carolina (UNC) created a pilot project
communities. Increasingly, students consider not only the to offer just this kind of support to four small private colleges
attributes of the college they will attend, but also the cultural, in the Appalachian region.
social, and aesthetic attributes of the place in which they will
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 9
Creating and Launching
The project focused on three principal goals. First, it had
to help colleges demonstrate that economic development Kentucky Christian University
partnerships could complement, not compete with, their basic
academic missions. Second, it had to capitalize on the assets Ferrum College
of small colleges — flexibility, commitment, experiential
learning — and help address the obstacles — time, funding,
and expertise. Third, the project had to serve a pilot function,
Mars Hill College
providing findings on the most effective practices for the small
colleges and for their university partner. (Appendix A shows
the ACCEDP’s original program announcement.) Figure 1 - UNC-Chapel Hill worked with four colleges in Central Appalachia,
spread across Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
The project began with a request for proposals (RFP) that
was issued to all the members of the Appalachian College
Association (ACA), a consortium of 36 small private colleges even if they had little experience with economic development
in Central Appalachia (see Appendix B for a list of the ACA work, understood and were excited about the potential power of
colleges). The RFP asked colleges to propose a project through an economic development partnership with their community.
which they would work with community partners to address an OEBD received short proposals from fifteen colleges, eight
economic development need. The proposal review team was the of which were asked to submit longer proposals. Four of the
ACCEDP Advisory Board (listed in Appendix C). They looked colleges were ultimately selected to receive funding: Ferrum
for evidence of the college’s connections with its community, College in southwestern Virginia; Mars Hill College in the
strong support from college deans and presidents, and the mountains of western North Carolina; King College in Bristol,
specific economic development need. which straddles the border between Tennessee and Virginia;
The reviewers also considered the colleges’ approaches to and Kentucky Christian University in Grayson, Kentucky (see
and experience with economic development. They decided on Figure 1, above). All four sit in counties with below-average
a spectrum of experience: at least one college with very little median income levels, and all but one (Franklin County, VA,
experience in the field, one with a moderate amount and the home of Ferrum College) have above-average poverty levels (see
others somewhere in between. They also wanted grantees who, Table 1, below).
Table 1 – Economic Conditions of ACCEDP Counties
County Percentage of Percentage with Median family Per capita income Families below Individuals below Unemployment
high school bachelor’s degree income (in 2008 (in 2008 inflation- poverty level * poverty level * rate, August
graduates *^ or higher *^ inflation-adjusted adjusted dollars) * 2010
Carter County, KY 73.50% 11.60% $40,450 $17,807 15.10% 18% 12.30%
Madison County, NC 78.20% 21.30% $50,702 $20,136 13.50% 15.80% 8.60%
Sullivan County, TN 81.90% 19.80% $52,108 $23,667 11.30% 14.80% 7.90%
Franklin County, VA 78.60% 14.30% $52,071 $23,699 9.20% 12.40% 7.60%
National average 84.50% 27.40% $63,211 $27,466 9.60% 13.20% 9.20%
* 3-Year Estimates (2006 – 2008) ^For population ages 25 and up & Not seasonally adjusted
page 10 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
The severity of the colleges’ economic climates was not a factor Hill, both by planning how to make use of the techniques and
in choosing which colleges would be funded, but the proposal tools and by responding to the input they received. They also
reviewers did look at how well the college teams seemed to worked with OEBD staff, who provided technical assistance
understand their communities’ economic challenges and needs, in the form of informal calls, emails, and meetings as well
and how well their proposed project would fit these needs. as planned site visits (which included OEBD staff and one or
The project opened with an economic development seminar. more economic development professionals with expertise in the
The four colleges participated in an intensive two-day seminar project’s focus area). Each college received $10,000 to cover the
in Chapel Hill, focusing on the principles and practices of costs of this planning phase.
economic development. Each college sent a three- or four- The goal of this phase was to produce a practical, ready-to-
person team, who spent their first day learning economic go work plan for implementing their project — one developed
development theory, techniques, and tools, embodied in a collaboratively between the college and community, showing
large and comprehensive toolkit for each team to take back all steps to be taken by all partners. The colleges would then
with them. (See Appendix D for a list of team members from immediately begin the action phase. Both phases were intended
each college.) On the second day, the college teams presented to last a year. In reality, only one of the colleges ended up using
their projects and received feedback from each other and from this timetable (exhibiting the first lesson learned of the pilot
panels of economic development experts (listed in Appendix E), project: to allot time for development and revision from the
who were chosen by OEBD for their specific expertise in each outset). The process unfolded differently at each college – and
project’s target area. Each team then sat down with one or more all produced exciting and at times unexpected results.
of the experts in their field for one-on-one consultation on their An implementation phase followed in the second year. In
goals, resources, and next steps. For all but one of the colleges, the action phase, the colleges received an additional $20,000.
the consultation resulted in a rethinking of their project. Technical assistance increased as colleges began implementing
The seminar was followed by a planning phase. The college their plans. Outside experts and OEBD staff supported the
teams then began what was called the planning phase, in teams with more frequent emails and phone calls (including,
which they worked with their community partners and college for a time, regular monthly conference calls). They also made
colleagues to refine and specifically plan their project. Part of more frequent site visits, during which they spent less time on
this process was integrating what they had learned in Chapel presentations and more on intensive work sessions.
Below is an overview of each college’s story; more details on
their projects will be given under the Lessons Learned sections.
Mars Hill College: Strong Success, Good
Partnerships, High Visibility — but Less
Growth in Capacity
Mars Hill College, in Madison County, North Carolina, began
its project already well versed in economic and community
development partnerships. Its project was led by the college’s
Center for Assessment and Research Alliances (CARA), which
had partnered frequently in the past with Madison County’s
economic development and private sector leadership. Mars Hill
proposed to work with Mountain Bizworks, a local microlending
organization, using Mars Hill’s faculty and students to expand
the organization’s services and offer them to more small
businesses. They planned to use the first year of the project
to conduct research on the needs of these businesses, and the
second year to put their research findings into action.
Mars Hill was the only college that did not spend a good part
of the first year revamping its project. The partners’ experience
Downtown Mars Hill, NC. Early research efforts by Mars Hill sought
in working together and CARA’s experience in community
to determine the needs of the community in expanding local businesses
and business services economic research got the project off to a very strong start. The
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 11
team chose three summer interns to research small business
needs in three target industries: local food production, arts and
crafts, and construction and maintenance. In the construction
and maintenance industries, the intern did not find a defined
business need, so work with this sector was shelved for the
time being. In the local food and arts industries, however, the
students found many needs, such as business management,
graphic design, and accounting.
Based on these findings, the partners moved promptly into
the implementation phase of the project, establishing working
relationships with a key organization in each target industry.
In local foods, their partner was Madison Farms, a consortium
of small local farms that provides fresh, local produce to
institutions in the region. A Mars Hill intern worked with
Madison Farms over several months to provide accounting,
business management, marketing, and other business
development support. Another intern worked with the Madison
County Arts Council to plan and execute several arts festivals
in the region, and to identify artists in need of other business
Mars Hill interns worked on several projects with the Madison County
services. Finally, two interns divided the work of helping Arts Council, offering business development services to local artists.
Madison County’s Very Small Business Center provide graphic
design, website development, and other marketing services. (The
services, but also helped give real visibility to the services that
work of interns was integral to the success of all four projects.
the college was ready to provide small businesses.
Appendix F lists the interns from each college, and Appendix G
The college’s raised profile among the business community
highlights the stories of one intern from each college.)
may have been as important an outcome as the actual services
In the estimation of Mars Hill’s community partners, all
provided. Small businesses in every sector saw not only that
these efforts paid off. The intern who worked with Madison
the college was ready and willing to help them, but also that
Farms was ultimately credited by its leadership with
its students and faculty offered specific and highly developed
skills — piquing their interest in having a Mars Hill intern
in their own business. The small farm sector, in particular,
emerged from the project seeing Mars Hill College as a new
business resource, and the college continues to work with
Madison Farms on new marketing and other initiatives.
One obstacle that the project team encountered was in
supervising interns over the summer. The faculty is on contract
through the school year only and was less available to provide
guidance and help ensure consistency in the interns’ work. As
a result, interns’ work sometimes flagged or lost focus in the
summer. Mars Hill is already working to overcome this obstacle,
but it is a symptom of the larger and more difficult obstacle that
the project team encountered.
Through the support of Mars Hill interns, the Madison County Arts Council Despite the impressive success of this project — the high-
received a variety of business services, including general management and level services provided, the value given to community partners,
and the increased visibility of the college as an economic
development resource — the college did not develop significant
“professionalizing” the organization, and the Arts Council new economic development capacity. The ACCEDP experiment
intern contributed advanced graphic design skills that the at Mars Hill turned out to be more an enhanced set of projects
Council greatly valued. The other two not only provided valuable for CARA than the building of new institutional capacity. Part
page 12 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
of the cause was also the failure of team members, including requirements imposed on any business that wanted to function
OEBD, to make a compelling case to senior administrators that in Bristol, which is split down the middle by the state line
capacity needed to be built within and beyond CARA. between Virginia and Tennessee.
All of this work resulted in the new concept of a Bristol
Business Resource Center, a one-stop technical assistance
King College: Slow Start, Strong Finish center in partnership with the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.
The impetus to spur small business creation and success
King College, in Bristol, Tennessee, came to the Chapel Hill
was the same as in the incubator but in more practical and
seminar with a plan for developing a small business incubator.
During the one-on-one consultation part of the seminar, they
had some intense discussion with an incubator expert from
UNC-Greensboro. After learning about the resources needed
to launch and support incubators and the chances of success
for new incubators, the King College team left Chapel Hill with
grave doubts about their original concept. A site visit from
OEBD and the expert to the potential incubator site in Bristol
laid the idea to rest once and for all. During the next year,
King’s team searched for a different way to frame their project.
They knew that they wanted to focus on providing business
services to small businesses in Bristol, but after setting aside the
incubator idea, it was difficult to identify the right structure for
providing these services.
The Bristol Business Resource Center has become an important community
The team had spent much of the first year conducting asset. Karen Witcher staffs the center.
research by King College interns to (1) inventory the small
businesses in Bristol and (2) identify their needs. In addition,
sustainable form. King’s preparation and planning, helped
they explored specific kinds of delivery methods that would
by the technical assistance of the OEBD team, paid off
work best for meeting those needs. One of the needs that
handsomely in the implementation. King kicked off its action
came through most strongly was helping small businesses to
phase with a “Business After Hours” event that introduced
navigate the complicated, overlapping set of services already
local businesspeople to the business services that King and
offered by a multitude of agencies, as well as the complex set of
the BBRC could provide. They followed up over the next three
months with three more on-campus events and a series of small
business webinars. All of these were co-sponsored by the BBRC,
and King continues to use its faculty and student expertise to
develop the materials and resources that the BBRC provides.
King’s administration sees clearly how the college benefits
from these strong and mutually supportive relationships with
community partners, and from building up its own capacity to
provide value to its community. Before the project ended, King’s
team leader had been made Dean of the School of Business.
She in turn has made community partnerships, particularly
those focused on economic development goals, part of the
position description and evaluation criteria of business faculty,
and structured their time and teaching requirements so as to
allow time for faculty to participate in these partnerships. By
building economic development partnering into its faculty
policies, King provides the project’s clearest example of
institutionalizing its new capacity. If the college can expand
The state border which runs though Bristol greatly increases the complexity this practice beyond the School of Business, it will be on the
of conducting business in the municipality.
road to institutional transformation.
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 13
Kentucky Christian University: A Difficult Road was in a more challenging economic development environment
Leads to New Partnership Capacities than even they had realized: fragmented and fraught with
mistrust. Carter County’s two towns, less than twelve miles
Carter County, KY, home to Kentucky Christian University, has apart, had been rivals for decades. Rather than cooperating on
the highest levels of unemployment and poverty, and lowest the development of the entire county, the two towns competed
educational attainment, of the four ACCEDP counties, and is against each other on almost every front: for business, for
the only one considered “distressed” by the federal Appalachian visitors, for attention. In this environment, the absence of a
Regional Commission. To address this situation, the KCU team unified economic development partnership was an even greater
began with a highly ambitious job and wealth creation plan: disadvantage than originally thought, and it left this fractious
to create and support small-business providers of outsourced group with no objective source of economic information.
accounting, tax, and information technology services. The KCU team decided to make this challenging environment
The immediate aim of this project was to provide new the subject of its work: the University would attempt to bring
business and employment opportunities in Carter County, together the two rival Chambers of Commerce. KCU’s historical
with the secondary goal of creating a domestic source for distance from the town and lack of involvement in its economic
companies in the region that might have otherwise offshored affairs would be, for these purposes, an advantage — they would
these functions. The KCU team linked these outcomes to use their neutral status to build trust and forge connections
a larger goal of reinvigorating and upgrading the county’s between opposing players. To some extent, their plan worked.
economic development vision to one based on higher skills Stakeholders that might not have been willing to talk to each
and human capital. other were willing to talk to KCU. The team embarked on a
It was clear that in order for this ambitious plan to work, a rigorous schedule of small meetings with a few stakeholders
wide array of community partners would all have to commit at a time, and put an enormous amount of time and effort
fully and make significant contributions of time, effort, into sounding them out: what did they think were the county’s
and resources. It also became clear that the technological highest-priority economic needs, and under what circumstances
requirements, such as high-speed Internet access, were would they collaborate on finding solutions?
daunting. While perhaps one or the other of these challenges At a key point in this process, however, KCU’s president
could have been overcome, both together were too much, and introduced a project idea that, though it was developed with
the OEBD team recommended that KCU undertake a more a sincere view to serving the county’s needs and promoting
manageable project. its collective economic welfare, sounded to most of the other
As they searched for a new project, it became clear that KCU players as though it would primarily benefit KCU. It was also
page 14 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
clear that it had been developed by KCU, and not through community partnership to achieve a sense of accomplishment
soliciting ideas from the community. KCU saw that it was not from this project.
insulated from the atmosphere of mistrust and, feeling that its The Ferrum team was advised to focus on something smaller
project had stalled for the foreseeable future, chose to terminate in scope and with more connection to their local community
its OEBD grant. and private sector. The project stalled for a while as the team
The KCU team might have thought that its story would end searched for a new goal. Fortunately, however, the college’s
there, as far as the pilot project was concerned. But the seeds community partners did not interpret Ferrum’s initial, campus-
of partnership that they had tried to sow during those months centered idea as a sign of bad faith, but gave them time and
of working with all the county stakeholders had taken root. The room to regain their footing.
community partners rejected the project but not the people on
the KCU team. The team’s arguments in favor of collaboration
over competition made sense to them.
As a result, the heads of the Grayson and Olive Hill Chambers
of Commerce have successfully partnered on a “Shop Carter
County” initiative, complete with logo and catchy jingle; they
have also co-sponsored community festivals and marketing
initiatives, with more plans in the works. The two Chambers, for
the first time ever, shared a booth at the Carter County Fair. This
gesture, though largely symbolic, was highly visible, and sent
a clear signal to the community that collaboration was the new
way of doing business. Since then, each Chamber has created a
sub-committee whose sole purpose is to partner with the other.
KCU is finding that its own place in the community has
changed. Community partners say that by far the best outcome
of this project is that KCU, which used to be merely located in Rural parts of Franklin County lacked broadband access,
Carter County, now clearly wants to show that it is part of Carter hindering business development in these areas.
County. From being the college on the hill, KCU has become an
identified economic development resource and player — and After several months, a new faculty leader joined the Ferrum
it has all its partners talking about collaboration and inclusion team. The new team leader determined that they were having
as fundamental to economic development. Though it did not difficulty in finding a new project idea because they had not
reach its ambitious project aims, KCU, having started from no articulated a goal that came from the community. The team
economic development capacity at all, may have come farther decided to start truly from scratch. They planned a large
than any of the colleges when it comes to its own capacity growth. meeting that was advertised in local media and open to the
public, and team members individually sought out and invited
Ferrum College: Starting from Scratch, specific stakeholders who represented important groups: the
Finishing Strong private sector, local government, social services, the clergy,
and others. At the meeting, the team did only as much talking
Of the four colleges, Ferrum College may have made the as necessary to explain the grant and its goals, and what they
greatest turnaround. Ferrum’s team arrived in Chapel Hill hoped to get out of the meeting. They then asked the roughly
with a plan for an on-campus hotel, with the idea of attracting fifty people gathered there: what is economic development in
visitors and tourism dollars to the area. The feedback they Franklin County?
received was unanimous: this idea was not likely to work for This question took a great deal of discussion to answer, but
several reasons. First, it was very ambitious, and there was little the time and deliberation paid off; the answer the group agreed
evidence that a hotel of this kind was in high demand. Second, upon was often referred to in the months to come as a source of
the idea was a strictly on-campus creation; it had little basis in guidance and encouragement. Their answer was “anything that
priorities identified by the community. Third, the project would makes people want to live and work in Franklin County.” This
focus only on the planning stages of something much larger answer, though it seems broad, excludes much of the recruiting-
that would require a great deal of additional funding. Even if type activity that often falls under the heading of economic
all went as planned, it would be very hard for the new campus- development, and focuses the attention clearly on the enduring
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 15
for access, and how to provide it, was too difficult and time-
consuming. Educating the local population about broadband
access and the pros and cons of extending it to include the entire
county, would need to be done by some public-minded group.
The Ferrum team and their partners felt that this project
suited all of their needs: it would draw upon the resources of
the college, which included a highly skilled GIS department; it
would allow for engagement with a wide range of stakeholders
in the community; and it fit with their definition of economic
development. Broadband access affects a community’s citizenry,
businesses, and public sector, and has a huge impact on the
community’s quality of life. Finally, the project was one with
clear goals: identify and document areas of unmet need,
determine the potential for offering service in these areas, and
work with the local provider to extend the service.
The next step was to determine what the college would
contribute. The Ferrum team created a novel approach: rather
than reach out to specific people or departments, it used an
Downtown Rocky Mount, near Ferrum College. A local broadband RFP-style process to get all the college disciplines thinking
service provider, B2X, and Franklin County plan to utilize existing about how they could contribute to the project. The team
towers to expand access.
leader presented the project at several large faculty meetings,
and asked all interested faculty to submit proposals for using
qualities and amenities of Franklin County itself. their courses to further the last-mile broadband goal. The
It was also the filter that the group used when they decided result was a widely multidisciplinary approach that included
that they would look to the county’s economic development a rigorous data generation and analysis project from the GIS
strategic plan for guidance on selecting their project. A small department, local news stories on broadband access written by
group was chosen to review the most recent strategic plan, English students; Spanish-language information and outreach
select several possibilities, and present them to the larger by Spanish classes, and theatrical depictions of technological
group. Of the options chosen, the large group quickly came to change in Ferrum County.
consensus on one: last-mile broadband. The lasting outcome of the project is not only progress toward
Broadband services had been available to much of the county increased broadband access, but also the entity created from
for some time; the areas still without it were fairly remote. that first open meeting: the Community Development Alliance,
The local provider had concluded that assessing the demand which is now working to identify its next project.
Allison Harl, an English faculty
member who helped with the
development of the student
newspaper component of Ferrum’s
project, works with a student
page 16 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Over the course of the project and an intensive review and
assessment period, the project participants — both at the
colleges and at OEBD — learned valuable lessons in three
(1) how small private colleges can most effectively initiate
economic development partnerships with their communities,
(2) how the colleges can turn these experiences into lasting
institutional capacity for economic development, and
(3) how large universities can best support the colleges in
Each of these lessons was learned though a process of trial
and error and reflection — only in hindsight did they emerge as
guidelines. While there is no guaranteed formula for successful
community economic development, the following principles
After a false start, Ferrum College worked to develop a new,
may be valuable to those seeking to create new partnerships community partner-oriented plan
by the new jobs, increased wages, and expanded tax base it
Lessons, Part 1
will create — an imposing challenge for any new player to
How Small Colleges Can Create Economic the field. But for the colleges in this pilot, value went far beyond
Development Partnerships bottom-line impact to include social capital, human capital,
and a foundation of trust and good will. The colleges found that
These lessons were often hard learned and may be the most
they gained enormous traction with their communities simply
valuable. The college teams, and the OEBD team, discovered
by showing that they wanted to be an economic development
potential pitfalls, unexpected rewards, and practical lessons
asset — and in particular, that they thought it was important to
about what does and does not help their community
be relevant to their communities.
Why would the community be willing to give the colleges
1. The first step is the greatest, if it takes you off “the island.” so much credit simply for wanting to be a good economic
development partner? Perhaps it was in response to the
2. The college needs to understand the community’s economic
gulf that often exists between a small private college and its
development history in order to build on what is already in place.
surrounding community. This gulf appeared to be widest at
3. The colleges’ partnerships should be open and transparent. Kentucky Christian University, where a member of the college
team said simply, “My goal is to have the community know that
4. The college-community partnerships should be a two-way street.
we’re here and that we’re on the same side.” The wider the gulf,
5. The college team should be aware of any potential sources of however, the greater impression a college makes in bridging it.
conflict in the economic development community. One of KCU’s community partners said, after the project, “KCU
had a reputation of being an island…but now, the relationships
6. The partnership’s first undertaking should set the stage for
I’ve developed with KCU and business folks are really priceless.
It just makes the community that much stronger.”
7. At the end of the day, the process and the partnership need to be Ferrum College had a more congenial initial relationship
backed by results. with its community, but even there community partners saw
Partnership Lesson #1: The first step is the greatest, if it a similar pattern. One partner remarked that the project had
takes you off “the island.” “demonstrated that…wow, the college is an entity that can be
worked with. They’re not just these distant academics.” King
In the world of economic development, projects are often College and Mars Hill College might have been expected to be
measured by impacts. Any proposed initiative will be judged less of a surprise, as they had both been working in community
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 17
partnerships for some time and presumably were less isolated The college team needs to know the answers to a few key
from their communities. Yet a King community partner said questions. What has been tried in the past and what was
at the end of the project, “Other than education, I never knew learned from it? Where is the community now — what are its
what their focus was — but now they’ve come out in the economic development priorities, and what options are on the
community more, and the community is becoming aware that table? Understanding the answers to these questions will help
King has resources we can utilize.” And at Mars Hill, where the team identify any gaps in resources that the college may be
the Community Assessment and Research Alliance (CARA) able to fill. It will also show respect for the work that has already
had been serving community partners for years, a town official been done and for those who have done it, and that the college
remarked that it was good for people in Marshall to learn that team is ready to build on what has already been accomplished.
Mars Hill is interested in supporting the greater community. Ferrum College learned this lesson by trial and error — first
It appears that this first step, in which the college steps off by error. Once the college abandoned the initial hotel idea, in
its island and shows its eagerness to contribute, matters a part because there was little or no community buy-in, Ferrum
great deal — and if done right, can create an important store of took another approach: to start over, and began by developing
goodwill that will help the partnership get off on the right foot. a deep understanding of what the community needed from
But this goodwill has a short shelf life, unless renewed by action. economic development in Franklin County. Over the course
of the next several months, a group that included community
partners and college personnel homed in on this question and
those that arose from it.
The principal investigator at Ferrum reflected that “the
temptation was always to rush ahead and start on the project,
but resisting that and building understanding…and coming
to an understanding of some of the same kinds of differences
among us…later on made things work a lot more smoothly.”
Upon identifying a project that was thoroughly grounded
in a deep understanding of the county’s needs — last-mile
broadband — the group reached out again. They solicited
some new group members: Franklin County’s information
technology officer and a representative of the regional
broadband provider. Including these two players, who had
been working for some time on expanding broadband access
in the county, made sure that anything the group did would
build on what was already in place.
King College worked closely with the Bristol Chamber of Commerce as well
as several other organizations seeking to revitalize the community.
Partnership Lesson #3: The college’s relationship with its
community partners should be open and transparent.
Partnership Lesson #2: The college needs to understand
As the college becomes a more integrated part of the
the community’s economic development history in order to
community, it needs to be open to diverse economic
build on what is already in place.
development players. If the college is seen to be approaching
When launching a new economic development partnership, only selected players, or operating behind closed doors, it
the college team should make a point of acknowledging, early undercuts this effort and cuts off valuable and often necessary
in the process, that they are newcomers to the field. The college sources of information and insight.
brings to the table valuable resources, tools, and expertise — but At King College, an early decision in favor of openness was
when it comes to the economic development history, needs, crucial to the project’s impact. As the Bristol Business Resource
and priorities of their community, the real experts are sitting on Center (BBRC) gathered steam, more and more businesses and
the other side of the table. Even a college that has been closely organizations wanted to be part of it, and it became clear that
involved in its community will not understand its economic along with the hardworking partners there were those who,
development landscape as well as the practitioners who have as King’s team leader said, “just wanted to slap their logos on
been working there every day for years. the back of the program.” The question became, should the
page 18 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
BBRC impose some sort of conditions for membership — community ownership and participation.
contribution of money, time, or another important resource? KCU had to experience this lesson more painfully. Toward
In the end, the project team decided that inclusiveness and the middle of their second year, as they were slowly but steadily
openness were more important, and welcomed all who wanted building support for county-wide collaborations, KCU’s
to participate. president publicly proposed the building of a community
Almost all of the community partners affirm that by recreation and athletic center to be used by KCU, the two local
strengthening ties with King they also strengthened ties with secondary schools, and the community at large. The proposal
other community partners. Even the less active partners found was defensible on its merits: to keep and attract entertainment
that they had expanded referral networks and opportunities for dollars in the county, to provide community-based recreation
new partners on future projects. Being inclusive gave King the options, and to create a shared venue for high school sports.
chance to offer members of the business community enhanced To the participants, however, it appeared that after months of
access to each other. working toward collaboration, KCU had unilaterally developed
Kentucky Christian University was in a more difficult its own idea. Some even saw it as KCU simply building itself
position. The level of mistrust in the community led the KCU a football stadium. The feeling that KCU was working on
team to think that small, informal, private meetings with two its own, rather than collaboratively, ended up derailing the
or three stakeholders at a time would be the best way to gather university’s project.
information and support for its project. At these small and off-
the-record meetings, stakeholders could share their concerns
and priorities more openly. The downside, however, was an
impression that the work was taking placed behind closed
doors among the usual players, that there was no public identity
of the project, and that different players might hear different
things. The meetings ended up eroding some of the public
good will that KCU might have garnered from its first foray into
economic development works.
Partnership Lesson #4: The college-community
partnerships should be a two-way street.
The relationship should not only be open but also bi-directional.
This orientation is new to many colleges. All colleges, of course,
have some connection with its community — after all, faculty
and staff live there and are often involved in religious, civic,
and political activities. But what is needed is much deeper:
strategic engagement that allows for the community partners At Mars Hill, Jane Renfroe, a representative of community
to think about how the college’s resources can best be used to partner Mountain BizWorks, teaches a pottery class
reach high-priority community needs. This kind of strategic
engagement requires a mutual, two-way partnership. The
community partners will see that the college is committed to
Partnership Lesson #5: The college team should be
being an equal partner, and the college’s resources will be used
aware of any potential sources of conflict in the economic
to achieve the community’s highest-priority goals.
Ferrum’s and KCU’s experience both illustrated this
principle. Ferrum’s ill-fated hotel proposal had been As part of learning the community’s economic development
developed entirely on-campus, without much engagement history and context, the team needs to be sensitive to situations
of community partners, and without reference to already- in which stakeholders may be in conflict. This knowledge gives
identified community needs. When they started over, they them the opportunity to bring conflicting parties together and to
built their entire process around drawing ideas from and avoid pitfalls themselves.
making decisions with their community partners, and ended The team from Kentucky Christian University found
up creating not only a project but an organization with full themselves in the midst of tensions that they had thought
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 19
they understood, but that ultimately posed a serious challenge
to their project. KCU unwittingly embroiled itself in some
of the very same tensions it was attempting to soothe. The
team thought that the mistrust existed primarily between the
two towns, and that KCU, as an entity outside that history,
would have neutral status. Instead, they discovered that in an
environment characterized by mistrust, no one’s motives are
The missteps described above — using small private
meetings rather than large open ones and introducing a
campus-generated idea into a collaborative process — are the
kinds of missteps from which other the colleges had time
to recover. In fact, the normal progress of developing a new
collaboration will almost always have a trial-and-error aspect
that allows for learning along the way. This is much harder in
an environment of mistrust, in which players have a learned Aubrey Raper, a local farmer and teacher at Mars Hill, works at Madison
Farms’ distribution center, where Mars Hill interns helped develop an
interest in questioning each others’ motives. inventory and accounting system.
Partnership Lesson #6: The partnership’s first undertaking
should set the stage for success. contributions, spread the experience of community
engagement throughout the college and increase the chances
In addition to the how of creating partnerships, the question of
of unexpected impacts and successes. Broader departmental
what they work on is equally important to the colleges’ success.
involvement helps to institutionalize engagement as a part of
The choice of project helped or hindered their efforts to create
the educational mission of the college and expands its identity
strong new partnerships with their community.
to include community.
The project should focus on an area that has been identified
Finally, the project should have an identifiable and reachable
as important by the community, as was the case with Ferrum’s
goal. The partners need benchmarks and a clear finish line. Also,
selection of last-mile broadband. If there is no previously
a defined goal enables the partnership to show success to gather
identified need, the partners can work together to identify one,
support for its next project. A Ferrum College dean put it:
as long as their method of doing so is structured, rigorous, and
transparent. Both Mars Hill College and King College devoted
The desire to be engaged has always been there. The difference
considerable time in the early stages of their project to research
is now we’ve demonstrated we can do this. We now have an
the highest-priority needs of their target businesses.
example — this worked. Our partners are stronger now…
The project should connect with as much of the community as
there is more trust on the community side that our faculty
possible and bring the college into segments of the community
and students can do academic projects that have value to the
that it does not ordinarily encounter. King College’s set of
community. We’re making sure everyone can attend a meeting
initiatives focused on small businesses involving students,
to talk about what we can do next.
faculty, and business people. Kentucky Christian embraced
the whole community when the two Chambers of Commerce,
Partnership Lesson #7: At the end of the day, the process
Grayson and Olive Hill, worked together on a “Shop Carter
and the partnership need to be backed by results.
The teams also found that the project should make the widest In the final analysis, results count — but results means some-
possible use of college-specific resources. The project should give thing different in each community. While it is unrealistic to
the college the chance to show that it can add real value to the expect large-scale economic transformation from these proj-
community, in the form of resources, skills, and expertise ects so soon after completion, the teams do credit them with
in which it excels. The project should match the college’s tangible improvements in their community and economic
own sense of its particular strengths. At the same time, the development landscape — new information and analysis, new
project should include departments other than the one at the resources, and better access to existing resources.
center. Inclusion of others will leverage the main department’s Mars Hill College’s community partners, for example, all
page 20 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
pointed to many ways in which the partnership had produced collaborate with each other, refer businesses to each other, and
tangible results. The foremost was the college’s relationship even work together to provide a given service. One community
with Madison Farms, a local nonprofit that serves and promotes stakeholder said “in the BBRC consortium, people are a lot
the county’s small family farms. A Mars Hill intern who more cooperative, they reach out to their partners when doing
worked with Madison Farms through this project is credited things. When we all give each other referrals, we really extend
by Madison Farms with “professionalizing its operations.” our networks.”
As a result, Mars Hill emerged as a visible and valuable Kentucky Christian’s story shows how many obstacles
resource for local farms. “I don’t necessarily seek out academics its team was up against. Like all of the colleges, they made
to provide business services,” Madison Farms’ director said. mistakes and learned from them. But unlike the other colleges,
“I don’t think I knew it would take the way it took.” The college KCU made its learning mistakes in an environment so
has continued the partnership, sponsoring a monthly local food challenging that it was difficult to bounce back. They started
night in its cafeteria, and there are plans for a seed swap and off firmly entrenched on their island. They held private instead
community garden. of open meetings. It seemed as though every hot-button issue
For Ferrum College, the work had two primary results. The in Carter County threw itself in their path. And at a crucial
first was the Community Development Alliance (CDA), which moment they appeared campus-centered rather than mutual
will provide a lasting venue for future collaborations between and collaborative in their ideas and priorities.
the college and the community. The concrete result of the And yet, KCU’s story is a hopeful one. The college succeeded
project was the closing of a gap in information on broadband in showing and building on their most valuable asset: a
coverage that had been left between the activities of the private sustained and demonstrable commitment to becoming a part
and the public sectors. When the analysis was completed, it was of the Carter County community. A KCU team member laid out
immediately put to use determining how to meet the unmet their priorities about midway through the project:
demand for broadband: “The data…has been given to the county
and B2X [the private sector bandwidth provider] to plan how My goal is that we would indeed be a partner….Our college
this assessment will be rolled out across the county, and will be has always primarily been viewed as a preacher training school
the basis for a stimulus grant the county has submitted to the that happened to be located in Grayson … we were in Grayson,
federal government,” said Ferrum’s Dean of Information and but our students weren’t from Grayson and never went to
Learning Management. Community partners agree that without Grayson….People don’t know we’re here. My goal is to have
the analysis performed by Ferrum’s GIS students, the gaps in leaders in the community know we’re here and that we’re both
broadband service would not have been filled for several years, if on the same side.
ever. Now, many estimate that everyone in Ferrum County who
wants it will have broadband access within a year or two.
King College’s community partners in Bristol point out
several positive results of their project, many having to do with
a greater awareness among Bristol’s business community of the
resources available at King. The practical result most discussed
was the realization of what had been a bewildering array of
services to small business, complicated by dealing with two
states dividing the main town of Bristol.
One of the partnership’s primary goals for creating the Bristol
Business Resource Center (BBRC) was to impose some order
on the chaos: streamline the number of organizations and
agencies that a small business owner might encounter, and
help the business owner figure out what he needed and where
he needed to go in order to get it. Their success in this goal had
real impact: one community partner commented on how great
it is to finally “have a place in our community where potential
Three key members of Mars Hill Faculty: Jane Renfroe, Gillian Bosonetto,
business owners know where to go.” and Grainger Caudle
And when they get there, not only are the services easier to
understand and access, but the providers are also beginning to
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 21
In this case, while the specific “big project” (the community Capacity Lesson # 1: Community economic development
center) failed, the subtler goal of partnership and cooperation engagement must be shown to be relevant to the college’s
was achieved. The head of one of the local Chambers of educational mission.
Commerce gave his take on the project’s results:
Missions vary somewhat among small private colleges, but for
most their emphasis is fundamentally on providing the best
KCU has been an island-based community… A year ago, you
possible education for their students. Any effort to connect
wouldn’t even see KCU in the local paper. All independent.
to the surrounding community must, to be sustainable, be
KCU has taken down the barriers.
relevant to that education-centered mission.
Most colleges do some form of work in the community,
and often the value of having good relationships with the
community is considered self-evident. Real economic
development capacity, however, will require a firmer grounding.
The kind of community partnerships that these four colleges
created must draw upon the best skills of faculty and students,
and to do that, the partnerships must be integrated into
teaching and learning.
Evidence abounds on how hands-on, practicum-based
learning improves educational outcomes. As a member of
Ferrum’s college team says, “With a real project, it makes it so
much different than an abstract discussion in the classroom…
if they have to go out and talk to people, they are having a real
world experience that can’t be duplicated in class.”
Many small private colleges want to demonstrate that their
education offers real-world relevance and that its graduates
leave ready to compete in the job market. They can do so by
Project leaders at Ferrum College came from a variety of backgrounds, creating a distinct track that combines liberal arts education
including Dr. Frederic Torimiro, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and
George Loveland, Director of the Ferrum College Stanley Library. with an array of specialized hands-on and community-based
learning opportunities. Faculty impact is less well documented
in the literature, though some good evidence does exist that
faculty who teach community-based classes have greater job
Lessons, Part 2
satisfaction and longevity, and see improvements in their
Building Economic Development Capacity at teaching quality and effectiveness (Kennedy et al, 2009).
Small Private Colleges
During the time that the OEBD team was working with the Capacity Lesson #2: Relevance to educational goals means
colleges to help them create partnerships, they were also relevance to curriculum, academic rewards, achievement,
helping them build capacity. All the colleges saw some capacity and advancement.
growth, and along the way gained new insights into how they
Making the connection between engaging with community
could turn experience into new capacity:
partners and advancing the college’s educational goals is only
1. Community economic development engagement must be shown the first step. Once college stakeholders can see the benefits,
to be relevant to the college’s educational mission. they must put in place policies and supports for faculty and
students to achieve them. These supports include creative and
2. Relevance to educational goals means relevance to curriculum,
flexible academic tools, and the time to use them.
academic rewards, achievement, and advancement
At the end of the pilot project, when college team members
3. Creating a new organization can help solidify the college- were asked whether they would be able to continue the work
community partnership. of the project, they universally responded, “if we have the
time.” A college that wants to encourage faculty to participate
4. Broader campus involvement gives a better footing to capacity
in community economic development projects will build that
page 22 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
value into faculty’s incentives and rewards. One step is to
reduce teaching loads, as Ferrum College is looking at doing,
in order to make room for additional community partnership
work. Or, as King College has done, expectations regarding
community partnership can be built into faculty rewards
systems. Criteria for tenure, promotion, raises, bonuses, and
other rewards usually include some element of community
service. Faculty who contribute to a community economic
development partnership could receive credit toward satisfying
their community service requirement.
Similarly, without specific structures to encourage it, the
only students who will participate in economic development
partnerships will be those who are independently motivated.
To build sustainable capacity, colleges need structures that
allow students to integrate their engagement and public service
with their academic work. Ferrum College, for example,
uses the projects as a form of hands-on learning. Other
possible structures include majors or minors that are based
around a practicum, or honors programs that culminate in a New organizations, however, should not be an end in
community-based practicum capstone. A college that develops themselves. The partnership’s work and goals should determine
an innovative, academically rigorous community-based the shape and structure of the organization — and whether an
learning structure has a new way to distinguish itself from organization is needed at all. Kentucky Christian University
traditional classroom-only schools. began its work with notion of becoming a “lead agency”
to provide cohesive leadership to the county’s economic
Capacity Lesson #3: Creating a new organization can help development players. Because KCU realized the partnership
solidify the college-community partnership. was not yet mature enough to sustain such an institution, it
eventually backed away from the idea. While a new institutional
Once the college-community partnership is underway, questions
structure may often be an advantage to successful community
of institutional structure usually arise. Should the partnership
economic development work, it is not a guarantee.
develop a new organization or office to manage the community
economic development activities? The benefits are clear. For one,
Capacity Lesson #4: Broader campus involvement gives a
a new organization can help reinforce the equal, collaborative
better footing to the college’s capacity gains.
qualities of the partnership, by focusing not on the college or
on a particular community player, but on the organization itself Depending on the specific project chosen, or on the
and its new mission and goals. It can also gather its own forward community’s most pressing needs, one college unit is likely
momentum, instead of being a college project whose progress to be at the center of the partnership — the business school,
will depend only on continued college investment. the accounting department, an outreach center, etc. The
Two of the four colleges in the pilot project created a new college team should strive to expand the partners and involves
external organization to embody and continue the work of faculty, staff, and students other departments and disciplines.
the college-community partnership. Ferrum College and its With more people involved, the energy needed to keep the
partners created the Community Development Alliance (CDA), partnership moving can be shared among a wider group. King
and King College and its partners created the Bristol Business College struggled throughout its project to diversify and expand
Resource Center (BBRC). For both colleges, these organizations the college team; for most of the grant period, the project’s
have become an independent means of giving some stability success rested largely on a very small number of energetic and
and sustainability to the economic development partnerships. dedicated people at the head of the team. Though King ended
Stakeholders in both communities, including those closely up achieving admirable institutionalization of its capacity
connected to the colleges, have started talking not about what gains, as described above, these were confined to the business
the college or various community partners will do, but about school (although the project team is working now to expand
what CDA or BBRC will do. participation to other schools within the college).
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 23
Just as important is having involvement from a diverse range college is a double-edged sword. CARA clearly is and continues
of disciplines and departments. Extensive, diverse participation to be an extremely important asset. It is financially self-
in the community partnership can give rise to a change sufficient, and its work with private sector clients and economic
in capacity that is built right into the campus identity and development partners has done much to gain Mars Hill College
a reputation for public service and public engagement. Despite
its successes — and despite those of the college’s Life Works
service learning program and its business department — the
college administration has remained consistently uninterested
in turning these successes into greater economic development
capacity for the college as a whole, or in making participation
in the economic welfare of the region a college-wide priority.
One of the project leaders at the college said, at the end of the
project, “My only regret is that I didn’t find a way to make this
engagement a sustained initiative within the college.”
Ironically, it may be that a quasi-independent organization
like CARA can actually be a barrier to the integration of
economic development engagement throughout the college.
Although the Business School, LifeWorks program, and other
departments at Mars Hill College are active participants in
this type of work, having a stand-alone center does pose the
risk of isolating economic development capacity within its own
walls. Additionally, separating this work from the teaching
mission of the small private college may result in a lack of
Mars Hill interns worked on a variety of projects with the Madison County
Arts Council, including identifying local artists in need of support services
and studio space Lessons, Part 3
The Role of the University Partner
culture. The Ferrum College team thinks that by opening their
partnership to all departments and classes, they helped to start The final lessons apply to the role of the major university in
this kind of cultural shift on campus. “What we’ve tried to do,” developing this type of work. Just as the colleges did, the OEBD
said one team member, “is to create a culture of partnership… team learned from successes and failures throughout the
When you get new faculty and they instantly recognize the process. Although initially considering themselves as mentors,
value, I think that’s what’s going to sustain this.” A Ferrum by the end of the project, the OEBD team realized that they were
dean agreed, saying that “we won’t create a community learning as much as they were teaching and that the colleges
economic development program or center or anything like were truly their learning partners.
that — it doesn’t make sense for a college of our size — but
1. The first year of a university’s work with a small college should
everyone in the college and community has a sense that we
be considered the college’s learning year, or the period of project
should collaborate on these opportunities.”
The dean’s comment brings up an important question: is
it better to have a widely but loosely shared sense of common 2. The college and university should work together throughout the
purpose, or a clearly defined center whose purpose is to embody process to define and develop their partnership.
the college’s partnership? At the start of the pilot project, the
3. Technical assistance is the most important resource, and should
OEBD team thought that a center such as Mars Hill’s Center
be the most intensive during the college’s first year.
for Assessment and Research Alliances (CARA), which took the
lead on Mars Hill’s project and on all its community economic 4. When it comes to training and materials, less is more.
development activities, was a clear advantage in building
5. There’s more than one right way of doing almost everything.
Mars Hill’s experience shows, however, that managing
community partnerships from a defined center within the
page 24 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
University Lesson #1: The first year of a university’s work planning the first year as a learning year helps the colleges get
with a small college should be considered the college’s as much out of it as they can, instead of spending it thinking
learning year, or the period of project development. that they are off track or failing. Ferrum and King ultimately
overcame any sense of early failure, and Kentucky Christian
Three of the four colleges participating in the pilot ended
was able to achieve considerable success in spite of it. The first
up significantly changing their project in the first year. King
year should be planned from the outset to be one in which the
College set aside its incubator idea, Ferrum College completely
colleges will learn by doing and get solidly on their feet.
abandoned its hotel concept, and Kentucky Christian University
ran into technological and logistical troubles with its first
project. Yet all three of these colleges achieved success. The only University Lesson #2: The college and university should
college that stayed with its project as initially proposed was Mars work together throughout the process to define and develop
Hill College which, having worked in this arena before, was not their partnership.
at the same point in the learning curve as the other colleges.
The need for a planned and accepted period of learning and
It became clear that the first year was one of learning.
development is as great for the university partner as it is for
One question for OEBD was, “should we have done something
the college partner. As the project progresses, the university
differently earlier in the process that would have started the
team will need to make changes in its support and in its
colleges off on a better footing”? OEBD concluded, however,
requirements. This reality should be built into the process. It
that the colleges’ learning process could not have been jump-
will make it much easier for the colleges, and will help promote
started. The first year of development and learning was critical
trust between the college and the university. All of the colleges
to these colleges’ learning and capacity-building processes.
in the pilot referred to a point at which OEBD’s reporting
Far from being a false start, the year of learning (and
requirements changed. As one team leader put it:
unlearning) should be considered a vital first step for the
I think the folks at Chapel Hill were really first class and
Seeing this trial and error period ahead of time allows both
bent over backwards to help us every step of the way…
partners to plan for it. All three of these colleges felt behind
[however], it seemed like OEBD received the funds and
schedule and rushed because of the time spent figuring out
rolled out the program without completely thinking out how
what their projects would be. If this development year were
it would be implemented. It wasn’t completely thought out
part of the plan from the beginning, it would be built into the
about reporting requirements.
timeline instead of throwing it off. More importantly, though,
In fact, OEBD had put a great deal of thought into how to
implement the partnerships with the colleges, but even the
most well-thought-out pilot project will require room for
learning along the way. Signaling that the university partner
expects to learn and adapt as the colleges do will help keep a
sense of overall organization through the changes.
It will also help keep any changes from imposing additional
administrative burden on the colleges. Small colleges
such as these tend not to have grants offices and not much
administrative help in general. Kentucky Christian’s team
leader, when asked if he would repeat the experience, expressed
The program was good, it produced good results. It also
produced frustrations that are part of the fact that we are
a small school. My hat is not getting grants and making
them work, my hat is teaching….We would do it, but there
was always that underlying ‘how do we spend the money.’
It caused a lot of frustration, with the paperwork and the
hoops to jump through.
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 25
Clearly any grant will have paperwork and reporting original proposals, and the OEBD team provided it to them.
requirements, but the university partner, by making the Once the colleges were in the implementation phase, they
structure as clear and predictable as possible, can do much to actually required less help. The time for more intensive
reduce this burden on its college partners. guidance and support is during the first year, when the
colleges are working to make sense of the new concepts they
University Lesson #3: Technical assistance is the most have learned and apply them to their own campuses and
important resource, and should be the most intensive communities. King College’s team leader wished she had
during the college’s first year. had more time to develop their project:
All the college teams made it clear that the guidance and It would have been better to have time for preliminary
encouragement they received from OEBD was the most research… That’s always the lesson: if you spend more
important part of the partnership — more so, they said, than time upfront, you’ll be grateful. That’s what they teach us,
the funding assistance. The funding was certainly helpful and right? I think we could have used our money better if we
appreciated, and it helped to incentivize the initial applications. had had a good-laid plan.
But it was the technical assistance that the college teams prized
most, and they offered valuable insights into how it could best Ferrum’s team also experienced frustration during that first
be delivered. year, and thinks they could have used more support upfront.
The colleges received an intensive amount of training One team member noted that these frustrations can have the
and guidance at the beginning of the project, in the form of effect of discouraging participation among faculty:
the two-day economic development seminar and the one-
on-one consultations with subject-matter experts. They then The expertise, knowledge, wisdom, and experience
returned to their colleges to use this input in revising their that [the OEBD team] shared with us was crucial…
proposals, after which they would plan their projects. The [and] would have been very useful from the word go.
pilot plan called for occasional technical assistance during the From the inception, we were floundering. That sort
planning year, with more intensive technical assistance in the of guided feedback became useful. I became less
implementation phase. frustrated and less reluctant….If there wasn’t that
For three out of the four colleges, it did not work out this kind of intentional approach, I’d be less inclined to
way. These colleges needed more help rethinking their get involved in this project.
page 26 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Closer involvement and plenty of access to technical support still benefit from the help they get in thinking through and
during the first year will help ensure that the team, even as they articulating their project and its goals, and will have a well-
work through their development phase, will feel themselves developed proposal that they can use to seek funding from
moving forward — which will help keep their enthusiasm alive. another source.
Another idea is to focus initial proposals on problems and
University Lesson #4: When it comes to training and ideas, not solely on proposed projects. The OEBD team put
materials, less is more. much thought into the question of whether colleges should
even be asked to submit a project, given the likelihood that it
Most of the college team members commented on the useful would change substantially or even be completely abandoned
aspects of the two-day kickoff crash course on the fundamentals during the first year. They came to the conclusion that
of economic development. They were nearly unanimous, the colleges benefit from thinking through their problem
however, in saying that the sheer amount of information was and possible solutions, and the process helps the team to
too much to absorb. As one college team leader put it: understand the college’s potential for success in the project and
for capacity growth.
We received an enormous amount of resources …immediately In addition, applicants should demonstrate evidence of
after our project was selected to receive the grant. It could have active engagement from the upper levels of their college
been more beneficial if our project was better defined prior to administration. In future partnerships, OEBD could require
being introduced to the resources. The truth is I had forgotten the college teams to show how their administrations would be
most of the information from the training session since I could involved in the partnership and how the project would fit in
not apply it when I returned to campus after the training with the college’s overall plan for developing capacity.
session — we were still in the initial planning phase. There are several areas for improvement in grant
management and administration. Because small private
Team members also commented on the sheer size of the colleges often do not have grants management offices, the
toolkit of economic development information and resources administrative burdens likely fall on an already overloaded
that OEBD created for their use. All said that they found it faculty member. The university partner needs to streamline
helpful but so immense that it was difficult to tell what was the work of managing the grant as much as possible. One
relevant to them and their work. Its wealth of information was approach is to require financial and bare-bones reporting only,
overwhelming, and it ended up being little used. perhaps requiring financial reporting twice and a formal project
The university should avoid overwhelming its college report only once. The OEBD team conducted interviews with
partners with information. It would be better to spread out the the project teams at several points during the pilot; these were
initial training and delivery of tools over the first year. Creating arguably even more valuable sources of information than the
separate components and delivering them as needed would projects’ own reports.
make the information easier to absorb, especially if can be One final idea is to eliminate the financial part of the grant
immediately applied. altogether. All of the colleges said that the funding was useful,
but much less important to their success than the other kinds
University Lesson #5: There’s more than one right way of of support OEBD gave them. It would be possible to develop a
doing almost everything. partnership that consisted entirely of technical assistance and
guidance, perhaps including other types of in-kind assistance
Over the course of the pilot project, the OEBD team developed
as well. The university partner could provide or pay for services
new insights into the ways in which the university can partner
such as meeting facilitation or specialized technology, or could
with the colleges. The head of King College’s project team
define a category of goods and services that the grant could pay
noted that the time allowed for submitting and revising the
for — but the university would do the paying and procuring,
mini-proposal was very short. There was not enough time
not the college.
to do additional research, recruit additional partners, firm
up their existing relationships, and develop a thorough and
detailed project plan. One option would be to extend the time
for proposal development and offer technical assistance and
support to all of the colleges that are chosen to submit a full
proposal. Those that are not chosen to receive funding will
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 27
The ACCEDP yielded lessons for creating and sustaining do in an economically distressed region is inhibiting. As the
college-community partnerships to promote economic experience of the ACCEDP shows, however, even small steps
development in Central Appalachia. It is hoped that this project can yield larger-scale impact. The dual chambers of Carter
can serve as a model for other schools interested in this goal. County, Kentucky carried out a Buy Local campaign, shared a
As colleges and universities are called upon to become more county-wide booth at the fair, and more importantly, came to
engaged in solving the economic life of their communities, see Kentucky Christian University as a potential partner for
projects like the ACCEDP may serve as one response. By future collaborations. King College and Ferrum College both
demonstrating the relevance of their teaching, research, and created strong community partnerships and showed the real
engagement activities to local communities, institutions of value colleges can bring to local businesses, non-profits, and
higher education can improve their public image, enhance the governments. Finally, Mars Hill College reached out to growing
quality of their teaching and research, and improve the quality sectors that built on the traditional farming and historic arts and
of life in their towns, counties, and regions. crafts sectors of their region.
Colleges are relatively long-lived, creating the possibility of Improvements can and surely will be made to the process of
their becoming centers of strategic thinking and action in areas creating and supporting partnerships such as the one piloted
characterized by few such institutions. Although this work will here, as other colleges and universities take up the challenge.
be new to many colleges, it holds great promise. A dedication to But the experiences of these four colleges show that with
place-based and asset-based community economic development a willing set of participants, sufficient time, and access to
holds much promise for community-college partnerships. specialized guidance and expertise, small private colleges can
While colleges and universities have a direct economic impact transform their role in and impact on their communities. From
on local communities, their primary contribution must always being an untapped resource, or “the college on the hill,” they
be the production of knowledge and a specialized workforce. By can become an integral asset to their community’s economic
taking advantage of this valuable asset, communities can access life. And along the way, they may discover an untapped resource
a previously untapped resource in their own backyard. for themselves: all the ways in which community partnerships
There are, of course, barriers to making full use of the assets can strengthen the relevance, vigor, and distinctiveness of
of the college or university. Among the largest are the lack of their academic curricula. Collaborative, two-way partnerships
funding, administrative support, and time. A lack of trust or an between college and community hold the promise of real, even
environment of conflict can make bridging the campus walls transformative, impact for both partners, and we have only
difficult. Finally, the limited scale of what a small college can begun to discover their potential.
page 28 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Appendix A: ACCEDP Program Training, Strategy and Implementation — Years 2 and 3
Announcement • Facilitate a three-day community economic development
seminar at UNC-Chapel Hill
• Provide planning grants for ACA campus-community teams
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic
to develop customized community economic development
(Original Program Announcement from 2007)
• Provide on-site Partnership evaluation and consultation at
each participating school
The UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Economic and Business
Development and the Appalachian College Association proudly • Provide implementation grants for ACA campus-
announce the Appalachian Colleges Community Economic community teams to undertake new economic development
Development Partnership. Generously funded by the Jessie programs
Ball duPont Fund, the Appalachian College Association, and
Communication, Sustainability and Evaluation —
the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Partnership
Years 1, 2 and 3
will strengthen local and regional economies by creating
• Create and maintain a page on the Appalachian College
customized, sustainable campus-community collaborations for
Association website to broadcast program activities, best
practices and lessons learned
Goals • Provide ongoing Partnership consultation to each
By providing training, technical assistance and targeted
funding, the Partnership will: • Conduct program, process and impact evaluations of
1. Identify the unique economic development assets of ACA Partnership and participant activities
• Author A Guide to Campus-Based Community Economic
2. Build value-added and sustainable campus-community Development to report on the Partnership process, outcomes
economic development partnerships and lessons learned
3. Create new outreach and engagement capacities
4. Refine and expand a new model of engaged scholarship for Membership
community economic development
Partnership members include:
• The Appalachian College Association
Activities • The UNC-Chapel Hill Office of Economic and Business
Planning and Selection — Year 1
• Form an advisory committee of principals from UNC- • The UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government
Chapel Hill, Regional Technologies Strategies, the ACA
• The UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Competitive Economies
and other higher education, business, government and
community organizations • Regional Technologies Strategies, Inc.
• Competitively select four ACA institutions to participate in • Ferrum College
the pilot program
• Kentucky Christian University
• Develop the Small Private Colleges Community Economic
• King College
• Mars Hill College
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 29
Appendix B: Appalachian College Association
Thirty-six small, private liberal arts colleges located throughout North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia
comprise the Appalachian College Association. The ACA seeks to serve Appalachia by strengthening higher education in the region,
promoting community outreach, and encouraging coordination and collaboration among its member institutions. The ACA colleges are:
Alderson-Broaddus College Lincoln Memorial University
Alice Lloyd College Lindsey Wilson College
Berea College Mars Hill College
Bethany College Maryville College
Bluefield College Milligan College
Brevard College Montreat College
Bryan College Ohio Valley University
Campbellsville University Pikeville College
Carson-Newman College Tennessee Wesleyan College
Davis & Elkins College Tusculum College
Emory & Henry College Union College
Ferrum College University of Charleston
Johnson Bible College University of the Cumberlands
Kentucky Christian University University of the South
King College Virginia Intermont College
Lee University Warren Wilson College
Lees-McRae College West Virginia Wesleyan College
Lenoir-Rhyne University Wheeling Jesuit University
Appendix C: Members of the
ACCEDP Advisory Group
As with any collaborative, multi-partner initiative, ACCEDP Brent Lane
could not achieve success without the commitment and Executive Director
leadership of key people and organizations. We are grateful to Center for Competitive Economies
the members of the ACCEDP Advisory Group: The Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise
Alice Brown Jonathan Morgan
President Emeritus Assistant Professor
Appalachian College Association School of Government
William Ferris UNC-Chapel Hill
Senior Associate Director Glen (Don) Schronce
Center for the Study of the American South President
UNC-Chapel Hill Ashwood Glen Enterprises, LLC
Richard Kneipper Sarah Butzen
Chief Administrative Officer Right Brain Strategies
PHNS Jesse White
Office of Economic and Business Development
page 30 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Appendix D: Members of College Appendix E: Training and Site Visit
The ACCEDP team is proud to have had the opportunity to
The ACCEDP team is indebted to all those who contributed
work with this group of talented and dedicated people. The
their experience and expertise to this project. Their guidance
successes of this pilot project rest largely on their hard work.
and support was an integral part of the colleges’ success.
George Loveland (PI)
Kentucky Christian University
Tim Nischan (PI)
Lorrie McGovern (PI)
Wen-Yuan (William) Teng
Mars Hill College
Smithson Mills (PI)
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 31
Appendix F: ACA Summer Interns
The following students participated in ACA-sponsored
community-based summer internships during the course
of the ACCEDP.
Summer 2007 Summer 2008 Summer 2009
Ferrum Lauren Furr (Henry Fork Service Center) Samantha Naff Ashley Hale (The Franklin County Center
(Franklin County Administration) for Advanced Learning and Enterprise)
Mark Gish (Camp Ferrum) Joshua Shell (The Franklin Center for Clara Williams (The Franklin County
Advanced Learning and Enterprise) Center for Advanced Learning and
Dayna Jacobsen (Franklin County Daniel Grubb
Workforce Development Consortium) (Franklin County GIS Department)
Samantha Naff (Franklin County Emma Beneke
Workforce Development Consortium) (Franklin County Administration)
(Franklin County GIS Department)
Summer 2007 Summer 2008 Summer 2009
Kentucky Christian Dorey Callaway (ATALOP) Cassandra Edwards (Grayson Chamber) n/a
Ariel Huskins (ATALOP) Jonathan Brian Elkins
Larry Metcalf (ATALOP)
Summer 2007 Summer 2008 Summer 2009
King Solange Adams (No documentation) JaVonte’ Ashford (Bristol Chamber) Christina Tidman (BBRC)
Catherine Michelle Lassiter Rebecca McDowell (BBRC)
(Believe in Bristol Main Street Program)
Summer 2007 Summer 2008 Summer 2009
Mars Hill Lauren Cecere (Mountain BizWorks) Allison Blevins n/a
(NC Cooperative Extension)
Joel Oliver (Mountain BizWorks) Jeffery M. Cizdziel (Mountain BizWorks)
Mallory Trasport (Mountain BizWorks) Tandra Landers
(Madison County Arts Council)
(VSBC/Handmade in America)
page 32 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
Appendix G: Student Intern Stories Bethany Wilson
By Michael Davis While working on the ACCEDP through a class project at
King College, Bethany Wilson got to poll Bristol residents on
Introduction their downtown.
Just a few years later, the King graduate opened her own
The impacts of students on the ACCEDP cannot be overstated.
business on the main drag of Bristol’s urban core, State Street,
Through almost 30 summer internships funded by the
which runs along the Tennessee/Virginia border. Wilson began
Appalachian College Association, as well as 12 business
Blowfish Emporium, an art gallery and do-it-yourself studio, in
placements and involvement from classes during the school
2009. She is close to Java J’s coffee shop and other businesses
year, many students were able to gain valuable experience and
that make up a revitalized downtown Bristol.
make meaningful contributions to the ACCEDP projects. They
Wilson’s interest in downtown Bristol was sparked by a
gained new skills or expanded their old ones in areas as diverse
high-school leadership program that included discussion of
as writing, computer mapping, marketing, interviewing, public
economic development. She said she’s seen downtown ebb and
speaking, and coalition building.
flow; after some years of decline, it’s back.
These stories tell of four separate experiences of students
“Being a part of downtown has been awesome,” Wilson says.
from each of the ACCEDP colleges. They stress how students
“Now it’s busy and it says something, I think, when you have
were a crucial component of the grant’s success. In many cases,
twenty-somethings (and) thirty-somethings and older visiting
they did much of the actual work of the project. Their stories il-
downtown on a regular basis.”
lustrate the importance of including college students in promi-
Through the survey work with the grant, Wilson learned more
nent roles within college-community partnerships. Students
about residents’ perceptions on parking and other downtown
gain professional skills, improve their confidence for futures in
business issues. Now, she’s on the other side, running her own
the workforce, and get a new perspective on community.
small business and, by extension, helping to broaden Bristol’s
“This area is beginning to appreciate the arts like never
Mallory Trasport’s ACCEDP internship plugged her into the before,” she says. “The biggest comment I get in here is, ‘Wow,
Madison County arts scene. I didn’t ever imagine this in Bristol.’”
“I didn’t ever realize how many artists were in Madison
County,” she said. “I got to be accepted into a little art Brian Elkins
community I didn’t even know existed up until that point.”
In summer 2008, Brian Elkins was a community organizer.
Trasport, then a student at Mars Hill College, interviewed
There may not be a better way to describe his ACCEDP
local artists for an end-of-summer report on the area’s arts
internship, especially since he was tasked with facilitating
community. Professionally, Trasport says the internship helped
collaboration between Olive Hall and Grayson, two rival towns
her improve her writing and speaking skills. Meanwhile, she
in rural Carter County, KY. As his college, KCU, stepped up as
learned more about the financial challenges of being an artist
a convener for economic development partnerships, Elkins got
and decided she wanted to sock away some money before she
to take a lead role.
got into the art business full time.
They were fighting over the same grant money and fighting
Although she’s now working as an accountant in Asheville,
over the exact same stuff,” Elkins says of the towns. “We tried to
North Carolina, the connections she made in Madison County
work with them to promote unity as far as working together in
in 2007 carry on to this day. She has some of her own jewelry
order to promote economic development.”
for sale in the gallery of a local artist she met during her
Through the summer, Brian’s out-front role built goodwill for
internship, and continues to attend various arts festivals in
a university that had up until that point had been disconnected
from the greater community.
“I feel like it was a priceless experience in so many different
“It was really cool when I heard these Chamber members say,
ways and on so many levels,” she says.
‘Man, I’m glad KCU is becoming a part of our community,’”
Elkins says. “That made me feel I was doing something because
it wasn’t something I’d heard before.”
Professionally, Elkins says the summer work improved
his confidence for the day when he would start handing out
Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 33
resumes for his job hunt. Elkins, now head accountant at Photo Credits
a home-improvement company in Lexington, KY, said the
ACCEDP experience helped him hone his communication
pages 4, 6, 10–13, 15– 24, 27, 31
skills. “I really don’t think you could learn in the classroom the
importance of public speaking,” he said.
pages 8, 25, 26, 28
Daniel Grubb’s summer of 2009 was a series of lessons on Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI)
problem solving. pages 2, 9, 14, cover
Grubb worked with a Ferrum College professor and another
student to do geographic information system (GIS) mapping
of areas of rural Franklin County that had or lacked Internet
service. Their work was a major part of Ferrum’s “Last-Mile
Broadband” initiative that sought to expand Internet coverage
in the county.
The broadband team used data from online provider B2X
to map areas that currently can access Internet. In addition,
students distributed surveys to county residents to determine
who could get online and who could not.
The online mapping was certainly a learning experience for
Grubb. He said at times, several project members would just sit
and read books on GIS, hoping to answer their own questions.
With time, they would find a solution.
“I had to go through several different avenues, figure out
what the problem was and fix the problem,” he said. “That’s one
skill that will be invaluable in the future: screwing up several
times before you find the path.”
page 34 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill | Office of Economic and Business Development
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Appalachian Colleges Community Economic Development Partnership page 35
Office of Economic and Business Development
1700 MLK, Jr. Blvd, Rm. 150
Campus Box 7409
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7409