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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Hundreds of people came together at UNCW today for the annual meeting of North Carolina Campus Compact.

This is the first time the annual conference has been held away from its home site at Elon University.

Representatives from more than 30 colleges and universities came together to talk about linking campus community engagement and economic development.

UNCW leaders say the university fought to host the conference this year because its focus parallels what UNCW is doing in this community. They say they want to show others across the state how both students and faculty are involved in the community with internships and research programs.

Leaders say having a relationship outside of the school’s walls enhances the learning experience for students.

“When they graduate, they are not only graduating with a degree and maybe looking for a job they may or may not be able to find here, they might be interested in staying here,” UNCW Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Partnerships Jenni Harris said. “We want to keep our local talent here.”

Administrators also say it is beneficial to have faculty from all over the state sharing ideas.

The conference continues Wednesday, when leaders will discuss the role of higher education and economic development.

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