Kenny Flowers is the assistant secretary for rural economic development in the North Carolina Department of Commerce. He joined the North Carolina Sea Grant Advisory Board in early 2018.

At the Department of Commerce, he leads a team of community and economic development specialists who help communities make the preparations and infrastructure investments needed to attract business and industry, and spur economic growth. The focus is to foster rural prosperity.

Previously, Flowers served as the assistant vice chancellor for community and regional development at East Carolina University’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development. In that role, he developed and implemented the ECU Municipal Management and Innovation initiative that delivers administrative, management and project assistance to small, limited-capacity municipalities; the ECU Community Enhancement and Capacity Building program that provides financial resources and economic development products and services to distressed and rural communities; and the ECU Rural Community Consortium, which engages faculty, staff and students in partnership with statewide organizations and rural community leaders.

Under his leadership, ECU Community and Regional Development programs secured funding in excess of $30 million for rural development in eastern North Carolina, established more than 70 formal partnerships with local governments and nonprofit organizations, and completed over 50 community development projects with regional partners.

Earlier in his career, Kenny served as the state’s director of rural development, and as a fiscal analyst for the N.C. General Assembly. He earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.