Patricia Mitchell will become the Assistant Secretary for Rural Economic Development at the N.C. Department of Commerce, Secretary Sharon Decker announced Friday afternoon.
Mitchell will oversee the newly created Rural Economic Development Division, which includes three programs being transferred from the troubled N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, whose leader, Billy Ray Hall, was forced to resign.
These programs will provide assistance for building reuse and restoration, water and sewer infrastructure, and economic innovation in rural communities. The Division of Community Assistance, NC Broadband, Main Street and the Appalachian Regional Commission will also be consolidated into the new rural division.
"We're excited that Pat Mitchell will lead our efforts to promote economic growth in rural counties across North Carolina," said Decker. "Governor McCrory and I are committed to supporting our rural communities through targeted investments that create jobs and improve key infrastructure.
Mitchell is an adjunct faculty member at Appalachian State University, Nova Southeastern University and N.C. State University. She was also an assistant professor at East Carolina University. Mitchell has taught undergraduate and graduate level courses in public administration, grant management and economic development policy. She served as the County Manager and Director of Economic Development for Ashe County. In addition, Mitchell is an instructor at the N.C. Rural Center Rural Economic Development Institute and the UNC School of Government.
"Pat has the ideal combination of professional experience, policy expertise and passion for rural North Carolina that we need to lead this new division," said Decker. "As a former county school board member, university professor and instructor, she also understands the important connection between education and economic development."
Mitchell served on the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center Board of Directors from 2007 to 2013. She was also a member of the five-person committee that worked to transition three N.C. Rural Center grant programs to the N.C. Department of Commerce, as outlined in the state budget. She currently serves in leadership roles on the N.C. Economic Developers Association Board of Directors and Local Developers Advisory Council for the AdvantageWest Regional Economic Development Group.
Mitchell received her Doctorate and Master's Degrees in Public Administration from the University of Georgia. She has a bachelor's degree in English and Language Arts from Berry College. Mitchell also holds a Certified Economic Developer distinction through the International Economic Development Council.