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Mathieson, Yeung, & Johnston, 2005). Critical to development of strategies for rural economic growth is awareness not only of the dramatic changes, but also of the uncertainties and resistance to change that frequently characterizes rural communities. Effective research-based programs are needed that maximize rural assets and acknowledge liabilities along with an awareness of diversity across today's rural regions (Acs & Malecki, 2003).

Impact Issue: To address existing and emerging issues related to social change in the marketplace, NCCC-65 has focused on increasing the overall quality, quantity, and competitiveness of research and funding related to social change in the marketplace by initiating systematic efforts to strengthen the research focus and infrastructure.

Project/Activities: A series of activities have been designed and executed by the NCCC-65 team to increase the potential of researchers to conduct research, write grant proposals, and develop collaborations for this purpose.

In 2005 NCCC-65 members planned and executed a USDA Grant Funding Pre-conference; the goal was to increase the numbers of researchers receiving external funding. Attendees were sent a followup questionnaire to determine the success of the effort. Of 43 people attending, approximately $1,685,000 in federal grant dollars were received, 3 other federal grants were applied for that were not funded (authors are revising), $15,000 in private foundation monies were received, $13,300 in state grant monies were received, and $172,646.75 in internal Experiment Station funding were received.

In 2006 a subgroup of NCCC-65 members applied for an NRI grant (Research Collaborations to Enhance Rural Economic Development) to fund a data sharing conference to allow potential collaborators to work together and forge relationships. The grant was funded for $10,000 and the conference was held in April 2007. Four experts spoke to 16 attendees.  Two teams of attendees committed to submitting an NRI proposal.

Representatives of the two teams of NCCC-65 members (and others) attended a 2007 preconference workshop held in conjunction with the International Textiles and Apparel Association annual meeting.  Some of the people who attended the data sharing conference also submitted concept papers for the preconference. The topic of the preconference was how to go from an NCCC-65 research priority to a concept paper to a grant proposal.

Two research teams that attended the data sharing conference and the 2007 preconference workshop each received approximately $500,000 from NRI: Markets and Trade (the earlier figure of $1,685,000 includes these grants).

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