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The School of Government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a pledge of $7.1 million from Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU) for initiatives to support North Carolina local governments.

UNC Chancellor Carol L. Folt announced the news today (May 22) at a meeting of the UNC Board of Trustees.

“We’re tremendously grateful for this pledge, which builds on the past generosity of Local Government Federal Credit Union,” Folt said. “A core part of our mission is to help our state build stronger communities to serve North Carolina citizens, and these funds will greatly advance that commitment.”

The School of Government’s Development Finance Initiative (DFI) will receive $2.84 million over 10 years to expand opportunities for economically distressed communities in North Carolina by increasing their access to and use of cutting-edge development finance instruments.

In 2011, LGFCU granted the School of Government $1 million to partner with local governments to attract private investment for transformative projects by providing specialized finance and development expertise. Since that time, DFI has worked on more than 50 projects in nearly 40 communities across North Carolina. Projects range from analysis of a historic downtown building to an assessment of district-wide financial tools to attract private investment to distressed neighborhoods. DFI has expanded staffing in response to requests from local governments and has engaged graduate students as community revitalization fellows to provide research on real estate development, draft financing models, create GIS maps and analyze demographic and economic trends.

With the new grant, DFI will continue to work with existing local partners to move their projects from pre-development to development, while exploring new partnership opportunities for development in additional communities.

LGFCU, a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative established to serve the financial needs of North Carolina local government employees, elected officials, volunteers and their families, has also granted $2.22 million over 10 years to support the LGFCU Fellows program. This program provides mid-level public executives with the skills needed to build the pool of local government talent prepared for leadership succession.

As in many other states, local governments in North Carolina are facing a significant number of retirements in their leadership ranks over the next several years. In 2011, LGFCU granted the School of Government $625,000 to create the fellows program. Since that time, 74 emerging leaders have participated in an intensive training program, “Leading for Results,” as LGFCU Fellows. The program includes the development of leadership and communication skills and includes one-on-one professional coaching. Since completing the program, more than 10 percent of LGFCU Fellows have been promoted to new roles, and a large percentage report taking on new responsibilities. Across the board, Fellows express a renewed commitment to public service.

With the new LGFCU grant, the Fellows program will help to ensure that communities across the state have high-performing individuals prepared to take on critical leadership roles.

LGFCU also committed $2.04 million in undesignated funds to the School of Government over 10 years. The school will use this grant to create an Innovation Fund to support new and existing projects that maximize the school’s impact and support its mission of improving the lives of North Carolinians.

“The initial investment that LGFCU made in the Development Finance Initiative and the LGFCU Fellows program continues to deliver on its intended purpose of enhancing North Carolina communities at the local level,” said Maurice Smith, LGFCU president and chief executive officer. “It is no surprise that given the resources made available through DFI and the LGFCU Fellows program, local governments have been able to leverage their connections to the School of Government to move forward in preparing the next generation of leaders and in planning and implementing transformative development projects. We believe continued support of these initiatives is a wise and fitting investment in the North Carolina communities where our members live and work.”

School of Government Dean Mike Smith added, “I am grateful to LGFCU, and especially to Maurice Smith and the members of the LGFCU Board, for their trust in the school and their commitment to North Carolina. These funds will allow us to develop and expand the innovative ways we assist local governments as they face continuing economic and workforce challenges. This gift will have a major impact.”

May 22, 2014.