The transportation needs of rural North Carolina are very different from the urban areas. To understand rural needs, a literature review, a socio-economic study, an economic analysis, and two major workshops, one held in Sylva, NC in the southwestern corner of the state (July 30, 2019) and another in Hertford, NC in the northeast (October 23, 2019) were conducted. The workshops were undertaken to solicit input from two rural communities, which could be used to better understand the rural transportation needs. These workshops ultimately became case studies, aimed to help NCDOT understand how to couple infrastructure investments with economic development for rural areas.
The effort built on two prior studies. One was the “Way Forward" report prepared by the Global Research Institute (GRI). It focused on the socio-political-economic trends and the role played by educational institutions in facilitating economic growth. The other was the Seven Portals Study (and implicitly, its antecedent, the Statewide Logistics Plan). This second study identified ways that regional economic growth could be aided by infrastructure investments; and many of its rural recommendations were implemented.