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The Development Finance Initiative (DFI) at the UNC School of Government is a group of experts in the fields of real estate, development finance, design, law, planning, and community development that works across the state of North Carolina to create win-win partnerships between local governments and private developers.

Since its founding in 2011, DFI has partnered with more than 200 cities and towns to design and attract investment for development projects that accomplish local goals. Its clients include some of the state’s largest cities as well as its smaller towns. DFI performs a unique pre-development process which includes in-depth market, site, and financial analyses; identification of development partners; and guidance on structuring public-private partnerships. Through this process, local governments create attractive investment opportunities with transformative impacts for their communities.

The four-part DFI Pre-Development Process results in a recommended program (uses, associated square footage, and parking) and public participation structure for each of our projects. Once the local government client has endorsed these recommendations, DFI actively recruits developers to respond to the solicitation, similar to a request for qualifications or request for proposals. All project research is summarized in the solicitation, along with requirements to be included in responses, and the timeline and criteria for evaluation of responses. Development solicitations are available here.

Investors interested in community-driven projects should contact Marcia Perritt at