The Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection

The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute was founded in the late 1960’s with a mission to bring together the intellectual resources of the university to address the economic, environmental and social challenges facing the greater Charlotte region. An understanding of the central role of geography in supporting local well-being, and a commitment to regionalism, are key principles that have guided the institute’s 50-year history of public policy research.

In 2017, The Duke Endowment’s Rural Church program awarded the institute a two-year grant for a research and community engagement-based project intended to bring greater understanding to the economic and social interdependence that shaped regional growth in the central Carolinas in the past century, and what encompasses intraregional connection today.

Guided by a belief that there have been and can continue to be mutually beneficial bridges between urban centers and less-populated surrounding communities, the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project team is investigating a large body of data and facilitating conversations with individuals and small groups to carry out this work.  Among the areas of research interest:

  • Economic relationships, from large industrial supply chains to Main Street-scale products and services
  • Characteristics of social networks, such as civic organizations, faith communities, workplace connections, and volunteer and philanthropic organizations
  • Labor market indicators related to job and worker availability and training resources
  • Water and sewer systems, broadband internet and transportation infrastructure availability
  • Contribution of natural resource assets to local competitive advantage


If you have questions about the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connections project please contact:

Elaine Jacobs
Business Services Coordinator