Focusing on Regional Success
August 14, 2017
Prior to joining the Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments (COG) in 2007, I didn’t understand or appreciate the concept of regionalism--cooperation and collaboration among towns, cities and counties that share similar economic, physical and social characteristics. Webster’s dictionary defines a COG as “a wheel in a machine that fits into the edge of another wheel or part and makes it turn”—an instrumental part of the whole. Regional councils were established specifically to assist local governments in tackling the many social, economic, environmental and workforce challenges that cross jurisdictional lines.
Regional councils exist in some fashion across the US although naming conventions can be different. In some areas they are known as Councils of Government (COGs), Lead Regional Organizations (LROs), or sometimes Planning Commissions or Planning Associations. In NC, each regional council is also designated by a letter.
The Kerr-Tar Regional Council is also known as Region K. In NC, regional councils were first established in 1968 by NC general statute and are regarded as local governments without taxing or police authority. There are 16 regional councils in NC. The Kerr-Tar Regional Council (KTRCOG) is a voluntary association of local governments authorized by state law to: make and implement joint regional decisions; provide management, planning and technical services to local governments; identify and solve short and long-term problems best addressed at the regional level; bring together local elected officials on a regular basis, giving them an opportunity to form working relationships; and to promote regional issues and cooperation among members. Services available to local governments and communities include facilitation, grant writing and management, project administration, data management, policy and plan research and development, and training.
Our most important connection is with each of our local government members. Through collaboration, convening meetings, and facilitating discussions around core issues, our connection helps to pay dividends for citizens of the region. Regional initiatives are present in community development through Housing and Planning services and Transportation Planning. Some of our most vulnerable populations are sensitively served through Aging and Mobility programs. Dislocated and unemployed workers receive training and hope for a new start from the Workforce Development department. These programs reach into your communities and lift up your citizens who need support and create new opportunities for growth in your hometown.
Kerr-Tar COG is the local economic development district funded by the Economic Development Administration for our region, providing access to a wide variety of expertise, partnerships, and funding streams. Current efforts are focused on greater regional cooperation in the areas of job creation, job retention, quality of place, and economic competitiveness as evident in our work on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). Through the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of our region, we can determine opportunities to advance economic vitality and encourage the development of new strategies through public and private partnerships. The CEDS identifies emerging trends and opportunities that enhance regional assets for strong, resilient communities.
Economic development, workforce development, cultural development, social development, infrastructure development are all crucial to community development. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes was fond of saying: “On occasion, we all need a lesson in the obvious.” The lesson that all of us should realize is that the many challenges we face — from transportation and the environment, to our aging population and workforce, to our water resources, infrastructure and economic development — cannot be solved within jurisdictional boundaries alone. Regional cooperation is essential for success. The Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments stands ready to foster that success.
Prior to accepting the position of Executive Director, Diane served the Kerr-Tar COG as the Area Agency on Aging Director since 2007. Before joining the COG, Diane worked for 10 years in transportation for the NC Division of Health and Human Services, served as the Executive Director of the Kerr Area Transportation Authority in Henderson, NC and as Executive Director of Granville County United Way Oxford, NC. A native of South Hill, VA, Diane holds a BA in Business Administration from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and currently resides at Lake Gaston.