UNC - Chapel Hill

Fortifying Local Economies

With a $2 million grant from the Truist Foundation, Carolina will support equitable economic development for communities hit hard by the pandemic.

UNC-Chapel Hill Old Well with colorful fall leaves
(Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

With a $2 million grant from the Truist Foundation, Carolina will support equitable economic development for communities hit hard by the pandemic.

Experts at Carolina will lead programming to transform economically distressed communities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina and beyond. Focusing on powerful partnerships, the Anchor Institutions Create Economic Resilience program, or AICER, will help build resilient local economies with more job opportunities and business growth in North Carolina and across the country.

A $2 million grant from the Truist FoundationOpens in new window will support AICER, housed at CREATEOpens in new window, an economic development center at UNCOpens in new window Kenan-Flagler Business School’sOpens in new window Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise. The AICER program works with anchor institutions – such as universities, tribal and local governments, and hospitals – to source their goods and services from minority-owned firms, rural businesses and local suppliers in COVID-impacted communities.

“Carolina’s mission is to use our scholarship, research and expertise to work alongside communities in our state and beyond to improve lives,” said UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz. “This grant from the Truist Foundation enables the AICER program to do that by putting Carolina expertise to work and helping shape more resilient local economies, starting here in North Carolina.”

Funding from the Truist Foundation will enable experts at Carolina to work alongside six anchor institutions from across the country to assess their current procurement practices and identify opportunities for purchasing goods and services from targeted businesses. AICER will offer local businesses guidance and technical assistance to work through the procurement process while connecting business owners to resources as needed to help ensure success. This grant also continues the AICER program’s ongoing work with two anchor institutions within the UNC System: UNC-Chapel Hill and UNC Pembroke.

“The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant, particularly for historically overlooked communities,” said Lynette Bell, president of the Truist Foundation. “Truist Foundation is committed to not only helping these communities rebuild but also to building wealth, institutional and economic power. This grant to UNC-Chapel Hill will ensure their resiliency and sustainability.”

The program will facilitate connections with the Institute for Innovation at the UNC School of Law to help guide small businesses and nonprofit organizations through the legal aspects of the contract process. The project will also create a national AICER Partners Network to share resources, feedback and lessons learned among partners.

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