Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection

What ties urban, rural areas together? Forum will highlight connections

Davon Goodwin, left, manages the Sandhills AGInnovation Center, a program that's meant to help farmers in Richmond and Montgomery counties, east of Charlotte. Photo: Nancy Pierce

The Charlotte region rose to prosperity on the strength of ties between its rural areas and urban center, but those ties have frayed in recent decades, with the decline of the textile industry and Charlotte’s emergence as an independent finance center.

The first annual Schul Forum Series, hosted by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, will examine what remains of those economic, social and cultural connections, and how we can work to revive them. The Nov. 21 forum will highlight findings from the Carolinas Urban-Rural Connections project, a two-year research endeavor funded by the Duke Endowment. 

Sarah Smarsh

The forum will be held at the UNC Charlotte Center City campus building in uptown. Sarah Smarsh, author of Heartland, a New York Times bestseller and 2018 National Book Award Finalist, will deliver a keynote address. Smarsh, a journalist and commentator, is featured frequently in national news outlets and hosts the podcast The Homecomers.

The program will include panel discussions about research findings, as well as a summation and address by Jeff Michael, director of the Urban Institute.

The Carolinas Urban-Rural Connection project has highlighted topics such as how Shelby used music to fuel a downtown revival, differing rates of philanthropy throughout the Charlotte region and how commuting patterns have changed as the economy shifted. 

Registration is available online. The $30 cost includes a light breakfast and lunch.