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The purpose of this grant is to provide funding to the Rural Center to provide leadership and capacity-building outreach in the Northwest region in advance of Golden LEAF launching its Community Based Grants Initiative there in 2020. This is a continuation of the work done by the Rural Center in the Northeast region in 2018 and currently underway in the Sandhills region. The primary goal of the program is to ensure that participating counties have an increased readiness to pursue economic advancement funding opportunities, particularly Golden LEAF’s. The Rural Center will work within the region to identify a core regional team comprised of county managers, Council of Government staff, community college and university key staff, and economic development partners. Members from the core regional team and key stakeholders from across the region will participate in a two-day Homegrown Leadership training program to equip them with the knowledge and tools to understand comprehensive rural economic development. Identifying low-hanging fruit and “shovel-ready” projects will be a priority in the capacity-building process. The project will review regional and local strategic plans to inform project ideas and ensure that new projects are supporting a broader vision for the community and region. The Rural Center will also provide coaching to the communities, meeting at least once a month in-person with each team in the region and guiding the teams through an exploration of a variety of state and national best practice models, drawing on sources of innovation from other rural communities around the country.