Regional Resilience in 2020 and Optimism for 2021

A Letter from the Executive Director

This time last year many were anticipating that 2020 would be a year to plan for a new decade and gain “20/20” vision or clarity on future priorities. Instead, we quickly found ourselves confronting the present, a global pandemic with severe local consequences that brought daily challenges and unprecedented levels of uncertainty. 2020 tested everyone and as we close out the year, there will likely be more tests to come.

Today we salute our region’s elected officials, managers and administrators whose leadership and steady decision making helped guide our communities through the pandemic response and now the early stages of recovery. Through regular engagement, we heard about your efforts to adjust services, modify budgets and give your employees flexibility to work remotely to care for their families. You leveraged our platform for peer exchange to share how you were tackling the pandemic and innovating amidst uncertainty. We took note of your pragmatic, citizen-oriented and community-centered approach to decision making. And we applaud your optimism that our communities will bounce back.

I’m also proud of Centralina’s resilience during this time. The herculean effort by our Area Agency on Aging staff who cared for the region’s seniors by efficiently deploying federal resources and partnering with county service providers. Our workforce development team who seamlessly transitioned to virtual support of career seekers and pioneered virtual career fairs. Our regional planning staff who launched a major regional mobility planning process practically on the eve of the stay-at-home order while still working one on one with communities to support local land use planning. Our community economic development team who leveraged in-house expertise in federal grants to design and manage a range of COVID-19 funding programs in partnership with member governments. And finally, Centralina’s administration and finance teams who launched a new brand, delivered a clean audit and keep the gears of our operations churning despite our office closure. Underlying all of our work this year was a strong staff commitment to our communities, our region and our core values as an organization.

As for 2021, here are just a few things that I’m excited about that are coming up for Centralina:

  • Finalizing the recommendations and implementation plan for the CONNECT Beyond regional mobility initiative.
  • Launching a new initiative supporting regional resilience and economic recovery post-pandemic.
  • Opening the 2020 Region of Excellence Awards nomination period to highlight innovative local government work that moved our region forward this year.
  • Offering a new slate of professional development programming under the name Centralina Learns, formerly CCOG-University. The planning series is now available for registration!
  • Laying the groundwork for an update to the region’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.
  • Leading the state in offering innovative programming to older adults, including virtual evidence-based health workshops and the groundbreaking Pride in Care initiative.
  • Ramping up our engagement with our state elected officials through our Raleigh relations strategy.
  • Welcoming Congresswoman Virginia Foxx to Centralina’s congressional delegation and working with our partners in Washington on a robust federal action plan, which includes the reauthorization of the pivotal legislation that funds workforce development.

The items noted above represent only a fraction of our work on behalf of the region and our members.  Regardless of the initiative or the department who leads it, you can rely on our commitment to excellence and public service to our region. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Centralina’s local government members and all regional stakeholders as we step into 2021.

Centralina Services Spotlight: Retreat Facilitation & Strategic Planning

Are you planning an upcoming board or staff retreat? Consider working with Centralina and get our support on agenda design and meeting facilitation. Our team has a strong track record of working with managers and administrators to prepare for and lead effective board retreats, strategic planning sessions and staff leadership meetings. We work with you to develop objectives and then design interactive session formats that keep participants engaged, facilitate dialogue and share critical information. Having a neutral facilitator can also help managers and boards tackle tough issues in a productive manner. Over the last year, we’ve worked with Statesville, Belmont, Albemarle, Marvin, Lowell and others. Reach out to us to discuss your needs at or contact your member liaison.

Written by: Geraldine Gardner