Cleveland County

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Learn about the county and its relationship to the region.
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Articles about Cleveland County

  • Workers sewing at Opportunity Threads, an employee-owned business based in Morganton. Photo courtesy Opportunity Threads.

    Homegrown economic development: Turning to entrepreneurship

    Outside of booming cities, can entrepreneurship “save” Main Street?  Longtime practitioners who have researched or designed entrepreneurship strategies across the country see it as the surest route to helping rural and small-town communities survive and thrive.
  • Housing is springing up across Charlotte and its booming suburbs, but some rural counties are losing population. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Our population is more concentrated in cities ⁠— and increasingly diverse

    There’s a common narrative about people in rural areas seeking opportunities: they should go to the big city and leave the country behind.  Rural counties are often seen as hollowed out or in decline, while cities and their adjacent suburbs boom. While population in the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection study area has become much more concentrated in the urban and suburban core, the story is (as usual) more complex than that.
  • Richmond County extension director and extension agent Paige Burns discusses bok choy with Mandy Davis, co-director of Sandhills Farm-to-Table (in the pink hat). Photo: Nancy Pierce

    Why intermediaries are key to viable local food systems

    Growing and buying healthy local food is a business: complex, rich in heritage and culture, essential to health and well-being, consumed by all but understood by few.  We learned from our Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection regional food systems research that farmers who become part of the wholesale food supply chain are able to increase the economic viability of their crops. However, this commitment not only requires additional investment and education, then selling directly to consumers, it also requires the support of many partners or intermediaries, along the way.
  • Quadplexes built in Badin, N.C. for workers by Alcoa, which for generations was the town's major employer. The aluminum works is gone now, leaving Badin to search for a new way forward. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    There’s a housing affordability crisis in rural areas, too

    Charlotte has struggled with housing affordability in recent years, as the city faces rising rents and home prices driven by rapid growth and low supply.  But urban areas are not the only places grappling with these challenges, even though affordable housing is typically seen as an urban problem. Rural areas in the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection study region are also experiencing a severe housing shortage and affordability issue.