It’s that time of the year again! Join us November 15-16 at the Hilton North Raleigh Midtown to continue our conversation about rural leadership and the critical role that innovation plays in a community’s ability to successfully achieve their goals for the future.

Revving the Rural Engine: Local Leaders Driving Innovation is two days full of content and conversations focused on how communities can use innovation to engage the next generation of rural leaders and help them to race toward their own better and brighter tomorrows.

$225 Early Bird Rate (August 15-September 30)

$275 Regular Rate (October 1-November 1)


James and Deborah Fallows

A vivid, surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place in America, town by town and generally out of view of the national media. A realistically positive and provocative view of the country between its coasts.

For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they have met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign.



The NC Rural Center has blocked off rooms at the newly revitalized Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown hotel, ideally located for discovering the area’s popular shopping and business districts,  for the 2018 Rural Assembly. The special room rate will be available until October 15th, book your room now!

Address: 3415 Wake Forest Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: (919) 872-2323


Each year, the Rural Center recognizes individuals, organizations, and towns that have demonstrated visionary leadership, impacted the economy, and built strong community partnerships. At this year’s 2018 Rural Assembly, we recognize excellence in four categories: leadership, entrepreneurship, small business lending, and small town growth and vitality.

Rural Leader of the Year        

The Rural Leader of the Year award recognizes a REDI alumnus who, through strong leadership, hard work, and dedication, has enhanced the quality of life in rural North Carolina and made significant improvements in his or her community, region, and/or the state. This is an individual who is committed to building partnerships and engaging all citizens in their community or region.

Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year      

The Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year award recognizes an entrepreneur who is making a significant impact in the local economy through job creation, sales, and revenue generation. This individual serves as a mentor to other entrepreneurs and takes a leadership role in their community. The entrepreneur must have a business located in one of the 80 rural counties of North Carolina that currently generates revenue and demonstrates growth and long-term potential. The nominee should have made a significant impact in the local economy through job creation, sales, or increased overall economic vitality. It is recommended—but not required—that they have participated in a Rural Center program.

Small Business Lender of the Year

The Rural Center offers two programs that help community banks and Certified Development Financial Institutions make loans to small businesses throughout North Carolina. Through its Small Business Credit Initiative (SBCI), the Rural Center works to reduce loan risk with 31 partner lenders. To date, the programs have supported more than 12,000 North Carolina jobs and leveraged more $600 million of private funding. The Small Business Lender award is given to a financial institution that provides excellent customer service to a small business.

Small Town of the Year     

The Small Town of the Year award recognizes a town that embraces citizen engagement, values diversity, and fosters strong partnerships. The town must show progress through innovative economic development initiatives and programs and promote an entrepreneur-friendly environment. The nominee has overcome economic barriers and challenges and been creative, diligent, and resourceful in building a new economic future for all of its residents. Priority will be given to towns participating in the Rural Center’s STEP program, but any town with a population less than 10,000 is eligible.


Nomination period will be opening soon!


Brooks Pierce | Mt. Olive Pickles



Jenny Grant
Executive Team Manager
[email protected]


Liz McFarlane
Director of Philanthropy
[email protected]

Media inquiries:

Todd Brantley
Senior Director of Public Affairs
[email protected]