Building upon its long history of support and advocacy for rural people and places, the N.C. Rural Center Board of Directors has embarked upon a new strategic visioning process.

The Rural Center will employ an in-depth, highly participatory approach, and reach out to thousands of people across North Carolina. Their feedback and ideas for the future of the center and rural North Carolina as a whole will help to shape this endeavor.

In addition to a survey that will soon be distributed throughout the state, the center will conduct personal interviews and convene a series of public meetings to capture the views of rural North Carolina's diverse constituency.

"This will be an exhaustive undertaking," said Patrick Woodie, acting president of the Rural Center. "But it is critically important for the future of the Rural Center and rural North Carolina that we assess the needs so that we can build a framework to address them, and develop programs that create economic development opportunities in the areas of the state that need them the most."

The Rural Center Board of Directors and staff will work with Durham-based MDC to assemble this new vision. MDC will help hone the center's structure and mission, including speaking to current and potential partners of the center.

In its work, MDC can rely on nearly five decades' worth of experience in helping organizations tackle complex issues. It has extensive expertise in crafting innovative rural development strategies, including successful projects in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi.

The histories of the Rural Center and MDC even intertwine: an MDC policy paper helped to inform the plan that led to the creation of the Rural Center in 1987.

After many hundreds of hours of work, the Rural Center's new strategic vision will be unveiled at the center's annual conference in October. 

"This is an extraordinarily exciting time for the Rural Center," Woodie said. "More than 27 years after the center began, we have an opportunity to re-imagine our responsibilities and refocus our energies. Our approach may shift, but our purpose will not: to create economic opportunities in rural North Carolina."

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