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The Small Towns, Big Ideas project began in mid-2006, when the UNC School of Government partnered with the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center to identify and document fifty small towns that were implementing successful or innovative approaches to community economic development.

This searchable database includes case studies about planning and implementing economic development strategies in small towns with populations of fewer than 10,000 residents. This collection of case studies is a response to the demand from civic leaders in North Carolina for real stories, from real places that are confronting real challenges similar to those facing small communities everywhere.

Stories are told in a narrative format and are intended to provide concrete ideas, inspiration and hope to civic leaders working in small communities and to policy makers dealing with rural development issues.