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Community and Economic Development

In order to cultivate and maintain vibrant communities, local, regional, and national organizations require leaders who understand the intricacies of community and economic development. The Carolina MPA program's focus area on community and economic development will help you develop the skills and knowledge base to promote social change in ways that are both effective and personally rewarding.

What Is Community Development?

Community development is the process of people within a group working collectively to achieve common goals. It generally seeks to improve quality of life, whether through reduced poverty, greater equity, or healthier lifestyles. 

What Is Economic Development?

Economic development is the process of stimulating private investment that results in job creation, wealth creation, increased tax revenues, and higher levels of prosperity for communities and residents.

What is Community Economic Development?

Community economic development involves restructuring market incentives to leverage private investment for the development of community-based businesses, affordable housing, and financial institutions, in order to improve community life beyond the purely economic.

What Can I Achieve in Community and Economic Development With an MPA Degree?

The community and economic development focus area is designed for student practitioners, activists, and scholars looking to gain fresh perspectives and strategies for transforming communities and achieving social equity. Grow your existing career in:

  • Community development
  • Economic development
  • Consulting
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Project management
  • Sustainability
  • Urban planning


In this focus area, you will gain insight into communities from both a regional and global perspective and explore the complex social, economic, and political factors that shape distinct groups. Coursework also examines the latest trends in areas such as sustainable communities, public administration, and economic development.

Students who want to pursue a focus in community and economic development must earn credit in three courses from the listing of electives below:

  • Managing Economic Development
  • Navigating Nonprofit-Local Government Relationships
  • Grant Writing and Evaluation

The faculty advisor for the community and economic development focus area is Jonathan Morgan. Morgan’s areas of expertise include economic development, public administration, regional collaboration, and workforce development.

Faculty Contact for this Focus Area