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University Gazette

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Carolina People: LaChaun Banks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaChaun Banks 

ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR NC GROWTH,

KENAN INSTITUTE FOR PRIVATE ENTERPRISE

7 years working at Carolina

 

What’s a typical day like in your job?

Here at NC Growth, we work on so many projects across the state and each project is different. Each day, I’m making phone calls, I’m meeting with different stakeholders, and I’m trying to pull together resources to benefit communities in the rural parts of the state. 

How does your WORK support Carolina’s mission?

Our mission at NC Growth is to create good jobs and equitable opportunities for people in the state of North Carolina. We do this through grant-based work, so we’re able to offer our services almost free to communities in need. That matches the mission of Carolina because, as a public university, it is our duty to give back to the state. We are leveraging all the resources we have here and deploying them to communities that are the most challenged and need the most help. (See related story on page 10.)

What do you like most about your work?

Being able to meet with the communities that we work with and travel all across the state. This state is so beautiful. My job takes me on the back roads I would normally never see, and I am able to meet people where they are. I meet the champions of communities who have so little but are doing so much. I love being able to see the impact that we have as a University on one business or one family or one small community. That’s why I do what I do. 

How did you get interested in economic development?

My undergraduate degree at Carolina was in international studies, with a concentration in global economics, trade and development. I didn’t realize then how much policies and programs that work in Southeast Asia, which was my focus area, could also work here in North Carolina. Rural is rural, no matter where you are. 

What surprised you most about this work?

I grew up in Raleigh, and I had never been to these rural places until I started working here. What surprised me most was how the rest of the state looks in comparison to the Triangle area and Charlotte. It’s challenging to come up with programs to support communities when there’s not a concentration of people, but it’s been something I really enjoyed. 

Carolina People is a regular feature in each issue of the Gazette that asks one of your fascinating colleagues five questions about the work they do for the University. Do you know someone with an interesting or unique job at Carolina? Please email your suggestions to gazette@unc.edu and put Carolina People in the subject line.