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Market-Based Solutions to Vital Economic Issues


Prescribing policy that leads to prosperity for the urban disadvantaged.

north carolina


In 2022, in-migration slowed, and out-migration accelerated, reducing the role of net migration in North Carolina statewide population growth, according to recently released Census data. For the Tarheel state, we document changes in gross and net migration flows between 2021 and 2022, highlight possible drivers, and offer anecdotal evidence as to why the revealed changes may foreshadow a longer- term shift in migration’s role in statewide population change.

COVID hit North Carolina hard, with 3.1 million cases so far and over 26,000 deaths. Low-income communities in North Carolina were especially hard hit, with higher rates of COVID infections and deaths, sudden loss of jobs with little buffer, disruption of families and communities. In this paper, we conduct a quantitative assessment of COVID-19’s impact on low-income North Carolinians and specifically on a subset of lower income North Carolina counties that are served by the North Carolina Community Action Association (NCCAA).

Urban Investment Strategies Center Director Jim Johnson and UNC Professor Jeanne Milliken Bonds assess the link between childcare systems and U.S. economic and social health, highlighting the way the pandemic has underscored the critical connection – especially in rural and low-income communities.

On Jan. 7, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a sweeping new executive order that aims to achieve net-zero emissions within 30 years while protecting and empowering North Carolina’s underserved communities. Urban Investment Strategies Center Director Jim Johnson, who serves as chairman of the N.C. Department of Environmental Justice and Equity Board and as a member of the task force on social, economic and environmental equity, accompanied Cooper at a press conference in support of the order at N.C. A&T State University. Read Johnson's statements here.

A new study estimates that more than 3,600 children in North Carolina have lost a caregiver due to COVID-19. Urban Investment Strategies Center Director Jim Johnson believes communities haven’t started to process just how much these losses have impacted them.

Knowledge of our changing demography can serve as both foundation and frame for how to achieve greater social, economic, environmental, and health equity in North Carolina. After describing how disruptive demographics are transforming the our state, this essay highlights a set of equity issues undergirding our shifting demography and concludes with a set of tools and strategies to make North Carolina a place where equity, inclusion, and belonging is the new normal.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has named Dr. James H. Johnson Jr., William R. Kenan Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and director of the Kenan Institute-affiliated Urban Investment Strategies Center, to the newly created Andrea Harris Social, Economic, Environmental, and Health Equity Task Force.

Gentrifying cities increasingly are adopting inclusive and equitable development policies, strategies, tools, and regulatory practices to minimize, if not altogether eliminate, the demographic and economic dislocations that often accompany their growing attractiveness as ideal places to live, work, and play for a creative class of young people and well-resourced retirees who are predominantly white. Creating greater opportunities for historically under-utilized businesses to grow and prosper through enhanced local government contracting and procurement is one mechanism through which gentrifying cities are trying to generate greater equity and shared prosperity.

A roadmap for inclusive and equitable development is proposed which has four core elements that will lead to greater shared prosperity in Durham: a sustainability scorecard; a collective ambition community mobilization strategy; a more inclusive entrepreneurial/business ecosystem; and an equitable community economic development innovations fund. These activities aim to support historically underutilized businesses and invest in workforce development partnerships that support working poor civil servants at-risk of being priced out of and displaced from Durham’s housing market. Utilizing these tools and leveraging the four corners of intellectual assets that exist at Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, and North Carolina Central University should strategically position Durham to be one of the most inclusive, equitable, and sustainable cities in America.

This research brief uses data from the 2014-2015 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) migration file to quantify the dividend North Carolina receives from recent movers to the state. We calculate the dividend as the differences in per capita adjusted gross income from those who moved to North Carolina (in-migrants) relative to those who were already living in the state (non-migrants) and relative to those who moved from the state (out-migrants). The dividends from migrants ages 55 and older, especially those settling in eight migration magnet counties (Mecklenburg, Wake, Durham, Buncombe, New Hanover, Brunswick, Cabarrus, and Johnston), are significant. This migration constitutes a strategic opportunity for both business development and job creation in North Carolina communities.

The North Carolina Community College System is faced with a major dilemma: how to reduce the time to degree and increase the community colleges’ success or graduation rates, which system-wide now stands at 30% in four years. This research was designed to gain qualitative insights from a sample of recent graduates, that is, students who managed to graduate in four or fewer years, on critical success factors. From the standpoint of strategy development, we assert that building on success may be more productive than focusing on deficits in improving community college completion rates.

This study examines the economic impact of continuing care retirement communities on North Carolina and the potential they have for creating jobs and expanding the state's tax base. The report suggests that with North Carolina’s older adult population set to explode by nearly 70% in the next twenty years (an additional one million seniors), the impact of CCRCs on our state’s economic health will be staggering.

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