Creating Regional Solutions Since 1971
December 2020
North Carolina Introduces COVID-19 County Alert System

State to work with key counties to bring numbers down

To read more and see Frequently Asked Questions, visit the alert page.
Governor Roy Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) announced a new COVID-19 County Alert System to pinpoint counties with the highest levels of viral spread and offer specific recommendations to bring numbers down. This system will help give local leaders another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow viral spread. The map will be updated every four weeks. 
Virus Relief Grant to Help in Part With Broadband in N.C.


(TNS) — The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments staff in North Carolina is using grant funds to address food insecurity, broadband inequality and the daily challenges senior adults face.

"Project-wise, we're always working on something," said Robert Hiett, the agency's executive director.

Here's an overview of some of the projects currently underway:
NADO Award Presentation

The UCPCOG presented the Northampton BOC with a 2020 NADO Impact Award at their most recent meeting. The UCPCOG worked with the County to pull down $1.5 million in grant funds to help with critical economic development-related infrastructure needs.
You’ve got questions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how NC will distribute it.
Some Quick Facts About Mental Health in the United States*

  • 1 in 5 young people (age 13-18) has or will develop a mental illness in their lifetime.
  • 50% of all mental illnesses show early signs before a person turns 14 years old, and 75% of mental illnesses begin before age 24.
  • More than 1 in 4 adults living with serious mental illnesses also struggle with substance abuse.
  • Most Americans lack access to adequate mental health treatment. 56% of American adults with mental illness did not receive care in the last year.
Housing Instability Exacerbates the Pandemic for the Most Vulnerable

Stable housing is an essential part of preventing the spread of and recovering from the coronavirus. However, those most at risk from the virus also have a greater risk of homelessness.
Sylvan Heights Bird Park

Sylvan Heights Bird Park, located in Scotland Neck, NC is designed to give visitors an unforgettable up-close experience with over 2,000 waterfowl, parrots, toucans, flamingos, and other exotic birds from around the world. Open to the public since October 2006, the 18-acre facility features spacious, walk- through aviaries displaying birds from South America, North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The aviaries are surrounded by tranquil gardens and lush natural areas, which enhance the beauty of the birds on exhibit and immerse visitors in native North Carolina wildlife habitat.

CARES Act Program Updates

From Hometown Strong, the state government initiative focused on the needs of rural North Carolina, come a number of updates on coronavirus relief programs related to business, renter, and utility customers:

N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program: No additional applications for funding are being accepted. HOPE Program funding is provided to the state through U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant−Coronavirus Response and U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief allocations. To date, North Carolina has directed $167 million to the HOPE Program and will close the application period to ensure necessary funds for current applicants. Since the application period opened on Oct. 15, more than 37,000 people have applied for assistance through the program, which is expected to deplete currently allotted funds. State officials are working to obtain additional funding to ensure that even more North Carolinians receive pandemic-related financial assistance.

N.C. Commerce MURR program: Effective Nov.12, full-service restaurants can apply for rent or mortgage interest relief from the N.C. Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief program (MURR), administered by the N.C. Department of Commerce. The MURR program can provide up to $20,000 in relief funds per qualifying business location. Business and nonprofit applicants from certain industry sectors that have not been able to operate during the COVID period may apply for up to two of their business locations. Detailed information and application materials are available online at

N.C. Commerce CBDG CV program: The North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division has had tremendous interest in the N.C. Coronavirus (CDBG CV) Program. At this time, requests for funds have significantly exceeded the $28.5 Million available. No additional applications are being accepted. If additional funding becomes available, N.C. Commerce will send notification as quickly as possible. 

Update on the ReTOOL grant fund, in partnership with The Institute and Carolina Small Business Development Fund: Information from the Institute and Carolina Small Business Development Fund indicate the application is closed due to high demand. Businesses can still seek certification as a HUB-Historically Underutilized Business from Department of Administration or a DBE-Disadvantaged Business Enterprise from DOT to become eligible for any additional funds that may be allocated.
Nursing Workforce Diversity Program

Funding Opportunity Number: HRSA-21-020
The application closes on January 19, 2021

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is accepting applications for fiscal year (FY) 2021 for the Nursing Workforce Diversity (NWD) Program.
The NWD Program will increase nursing education opportunities for underprivileged students. Grantees will support nursing students from disadvantaged backgrounds to meet the diverse and cultural needs of rural communities.

Eligible applicants are accredited:
  • Schools of nursing
  • Nursing centers
  • Academic health centers
  • State or local governments
  • Private or public non-profit entities
  • Faith-based organizations
  • Community-based organizations
  • Tribes and Tribal organizations

HRSA expects approximately $16.1 million to be available in FY 2021 to fund 32 grantees.

For a complete list of funding opportunities, visit the HRSA website.
Technical Assistance
The following technical assistance webinar has been scheduled to help applicants understand, prepare, and submit an application for this notice of funding opportunity (NOFO). 
Date: Friday, December 18, 2020
Time: 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. ET
Call-In: 800-857-9788
Participant Code: 4886797
REMINDER: NC launches fund to help small business adversely impacted by pandemic

A new grant program called RETOOLNC is available to help North Carolina historically underutilized Businesses (HUB) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) firms impacted by COVID. Additionally, NC Commerce has resources to support mortgage and utility and rent assistance to firms that experienced extraordinary disruptions through the MURR Mortgage Utility and Rent Relief Program. To learn more about these programs please go to:

Urgent Repair Program
Notice of Funds Available

The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (the Agency) proposes to make a total of $4.5 million available for the 2021 Urgent Repair Program (URP21). Program funding enables recipient organizations to provide deferred, forgiven loans of up to $10,000 for emergency home repairs and modifications to very low-income owner-occupied homes. Eligible households are those with one or more full-time household members with special needs (e.g., elderly, disabled and/or Veteran full-time household members or a child six years of age or under living in the home with lead hazards). Household incomes cannot exceed 50% of area median income.  
Nonprofit organizations, local governments and regional councils of government with the technical capacity to manage residential construction projects are eligible to apply. Eligible applicants must cover service areas with a population of 5,000 or greater.
The maximum funding amount is $200,000 for projects serving two or more counties in their entirety and $100,000 for projects serving a single county. The maximum funding for large CDBG Entitlement Cities is $50,000.
Potential applicants are encouraged to register for the URP21 Application Guideline Webinar, which will be presented on Thursday, December 17, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. You can register for the URP21 Application Guideline Webinar by clicking the following link: URP21 Application Webinar. Please register for the webinar no later than 3:00 p.m. December 16, 2020.
Application forms and guidelines will be available on the Agency’s website at after December 1, 2020. Under Urgent Repair Program, select Forms and Resources. Completed applications must be received at the Agency by 5:00 p.m. January 25, 2021. For more information, please call Mike Handley, 919-877-5627, Chuck Dopler, 919-981-5008, Donna Coleman, 919-981-5006, Kim Hargrove, 919-877-5682 or Dan McFarland, 919-875-3753.
Safe Routes Partnership invites applications for 2021 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program

Safe Routes Partnership invites communities to apply for the 2020 Safe Routes to Parks Activating Communities Program. Seven communities will be selected through this program to receive customized technical assistance and a $12,500 award to develop and implement action plans that will facilitate increased safe and equitable access to parks and green spaces for residents. Applications are due December 18, 2020. To learn more, please go to:

Planning and Development
Read N.C.'s Rural Economic Development Division's 2020 Annual Report
A note from the Rural Economic Development Division Assistant Secretary Kenny Flower:
We are pleased to share the Rural Economic Development Division’s (REDD) 2020 Annual Report. REDD is driven to advance the Commerce mission and build strong partnerships with North Carolina’s rural communities.

In FY 2020, our programs generated grant awards of $70M that supported 157 projects in rural communities across the state.

Through continued engagement, investment, and collaboration, we strive to enhance the state’s competitive profile and help create the best environment for rural prosperity and economic development success.

We truly appreciate your partnership and look forward to continued collaboration moving forward.
USDA Launches AskUSDA, Improves and Streamlines Customer Experience

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the official launch of the AskUSDA Contact Center program. The AskUSDA Contact Center will serve as the “one front door” for phone, chat, and web inquires, transforming how the public interacts with USDA and providing an enhanced experience for the public.

Prior to the creation and implementation of AskUSDA, members of the public had to navigate dozens of phone numbers and had no chat function or online platform for self-service, creating frustrations and inefficiencies.  AskUSDA was created to make USDA more responsive to the public by providing a single destination for phone, chat, and web inquiries. Whether it’s talking to a USDA representative via phone, chatting with a live agent on our website, or communicating with USDA via e-mail, the public will have streamlined access.

The launch of AskUSDA delivers a centralized contact center that offers customer service and consistent information for the public. With over 29 agencies and offices, USDA’s mission impacts every single person in the U.S. and hundreds of millions around the globe. AskUSDA assures that farmers, researchers, travelers, parents, and more have efficient access to the information and resources they need.

AskUSDA is set up to handle common questions across programs that service a variety of audiences. For example, customers who may have basic questions about USDA’s nutrition services can be assisted across phone, e-mail, and web chat by trained AskUSDA representatives, and customers who may have complicated questions about loan programs can be quickly connected to agency experts. AskUSDA also hosts over five thousand articles for a self-service option to help with more common questions such as food safety inquiries or pet-travel guidance.

Over the course of its pilot program, AskUSDA successfully assisted with over 93,000 citizen inquiries, and the AskUSDA website resulted in over 1.4 million knowledge article page views. USDA looks forward to continuing to implement this enhanced best in class contact center across the Department.

The public can contact AskUSDA by phone at (833) ONE-USDA with representatives available 9:00am-5:30pm EST weekdays. The website ( is available 24/7 and includes live chat agents available 10:00am-6:00pm EST on weekdays. Inquiries can also be sent via email at any time to
WorkForce Development
Join the NC Rural Center, myFutureNC, and Carolina Demography on Wednesday, December 9, 2020 from 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. to learn more about their County Attainment Profiles and the customized data specific to your local county. 

About the County Data Profiles:

myFutureNC in partnership with Carolina Demography has created data profiles for every North Carolina county that highlight county-level educational attainment and key education and workforce performance metrics. 

It is the hope that leaders can use these profiles to help facilitate conversations and decision-making on local priorities aimed at increasing education levels with a specific emphasis on the "opportunities for improvement" uniquely identified for your county. 

Register By
December 7, 202011:59 AM

NCWorks Career Center of Rocky Mount Convened Another successful Drive-Through Job Fair for DMV
Over 270 prospective jobseekers were in attendance.
Medical Product Maker to Relocate Headquarters and Operations to Edgecombe County

Wolf and Flow X-Ray, a medical imaging manufacturer, will create 68 new jobs in Edgecombe County, Governor Roy Cooper announced. The company will invest more than $4.5 million to relocate their headquarters and manufacturing operations to Rocky Mount.

Wolf and Flow X-Ray are global manufacturers of high-quality medical and dental imaging products and accessories. For more than 90 years, the Wolf family has offered the medical and dental industries seven different product lines and a catalog of more than 180 products. Wolf and Flow X-Ray hold various patents for its digital radiography and lead protection lines, including the x-ray protective apron.

We can hardly put into words how proud we are of these folks. Please give them a shout out and help us congratulate them for completing the BESP course. These fantastic students pushed through many personal and professional challenges to graduate! Congrats to all.

Here's what's new on our COVID-19 resource page

Vaccine resources: This month has brought encouraging news about potential COVID-19 vaccines. Here are some resources on vaccines and how they could be distributed:

COVID-19 and Adult Protective Services: ACL's APS Technical Assistance Resource Center recently conducted a study on the impact of COVID-19 on adult protective services and will be hosting a webinar on Tuesday, December 15 at 3:00 pm ET to discuss their findings, including how the pandemic is affecting APS work, workload, policy, practices, partnerships, and preparedness.

How Paralysis Resource Center programs are responding to the pandemic: ACL's Paralysis Resource Center has a new report on the impact of COVID-19 on State Pilot Grantees and Subawardees. The report highlights program work in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The PRC also has released an infographic that provides a dashboard view of self-evaluation and application process metrics.

Celebrating the holiday season: The upcoming holidays offer an important opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Unfortunately, as the COVID-19 pandemic gets worse, in-person gatherings have the potential to contribute to the spread of COVID-19. There are steps you can take to reduce the spread of the virus and to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe. The CDC has updated guidance and tips on small gatherings and safely celebrating the holidays.

Reducing risk when traveling: The holidays are also traditionally a time when many Americans travel. During the pandemic, staying home is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to keep loved ones healthy and safe. If you are traveling, CDC offers resources to help you understand factors that can increase risks and protect yourself and others while traveling.

Wearing your mask, the right way: We can each help slow the spread of the coronavirus by covering our mouth and nose with a mask when around others. CDC recommends wearing a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when it is difficult to maintain physical distance with others.
Keys to Economic Recovery from COVID-19
What strategies will help local economies recover more quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic? The ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government and NCGrowth at the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise are collaborating on a project to assess the short term impacts of local factors and local government actions that aim to help people feel safe engaging in activities that improve the economy.
Register for a free webinar where we will share what we learn and collect your input as the project progresses. Let's dive into the data and learn from each other as we navigate next steps in North Carolina.
January 27: Using Data to Drive Decisions in the Face of Crisis
Webinar begins at 2:00 p.m. EST
Legal Basics for Advisory Boards Webinar

January 21, 2021
10 am – 2:45 pm (with a 45-minute lunch break)
Online | Zoom
We are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Legal Basics for Advisory Boards Webinar on Thursday, January 21, 2021, from 10 am – 2:45 pm, with a 45-minute lunch break from 12 – 12:45 pm. The class will be held via Zoom, and will be available for on-demand purchase after the live webinar date.
Registration: To register for this course, please visit the course webpage. The registration fee is $150. 
Topics: Municipalities and counties throughout the state rely on advisory boards for recommendations on a wide range of local government issues. This online crash course for advisory board members is designed to help them do their important work effectively and lawfully. Participants will gain a basic understanding of topics relevant to all local government advisory boards, including the open meetings law, the public records law, and board procedures. (NOTE: This course will not cover procedural requirements specific to planning boards or quasi-judicial proceedings.)
Materials: Any related documents will be posted under the “materials” tab on the course web page. Each registrant will receive Suggested Procedural Rules for Local Appointed Boards in an e-format.
Faculty coordinator: Trey Allen at
For more information: Contact Rachel Mintel, program associate, at
Essentials of County Government Moves Online
Join the School of Government and the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners this winter for the first virtual Essentials of County GovernmentNewly elected officials have the opportunity to register for one of two tracks, each spanning the course of three months.
Participants will complete pre-work, join three interactive sessions on Zoom, and receive direct advice and insight from School and Association faculty and staff during live "ask the expert" sessions. Click here for a sample agenda for the live sessions. This year's program will explore three key themes: roles and responsibilities of county governance; budgets, fiduciary duty, & financial condition; and ethics, conflicts of interest, & open government.

December 10 | 1-2:30 PM EST


 EPA will conduct a free 1.5-hour webinar on hazard mitigation funding opportunities for the water sector to mitigate damage from natural disasters.

During the webinar:
·     An EPA expert will provide data-driven advice to develop mitigation projects;
·    A State Hazard Mitigation Officer will talk about new FEMA funding;
·    A utility will discuss its partnership with the state to get funding for emergency backup generators.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available for this webinar.
Happy Holidays from the COG Staff
121 W. Nash St. Wilson, NC 27893