The North Carolina Rural Center is holding its 2014 Rural Assembly today in Raleigh. It’s been two years since the last gathering.
2013 was not a good year for The Rural Center. The non-profit was issued a scathing audit and its longtime leader Billy Ray Hall was forced to retire.
Patrick Woodie is the newly named president.
“And we will get up every day thinking about rural North Carolina and we will go to bed every night dreaming about rural North Carolina, that’s our commitment," said Woodie.
Woodie says staff has spent the past several months re-engaging with rural North Carolina and making a new commitment to communities in need. He says 400 people are expected to pack this year’s rural assembly.
“This is a group that they know each other very well. First and foremost is a great networking opportunity for them. It’s really like a family reunion," said Woodie.
The Rural Center has been around for 27 years. Woodie will help present the center's "new strategic vision"
Meanwhile, the Rural Assembly will also include economists, workforce developers and demographers, like Rebecca Tippett.
Tippett is Director of Carolina Demography, at UNC’s Population Center. She says retirees are more likely to move to rural places, which has helped some North Carolina communities.
“You do have some rural communities that are really becoming what is sometimes called ‘mailbox economies.’ Right, so nobody is moving there for a job but they are moving there and bringing their resource that they earned over their lifetime with them," said Tippett.
The keynote address will be given by Darrin Williams, CEO of Southern Bancorp. The Rural Assembly will be held at the Double Tree Raleigh-Brownstone Hotel near NC State.