Partnership in the News: GroWNC Inspires "Regional Thinking" in North Carolina Counties

The Smoky Mountain News reported recently that five North Carolina counties are coming together with a project called GroWNC, which aims to get the entire Western NC region to think collectively about economic development strategies that include sustainability. GroWNC is currently holding meetings in all five counties – Haywood, Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson and Madison – that will gain feedback on these economic development goals as well as information about residents and their concerns. Participants are being asked questions ranging from what they love most about Western North Carolina to individual demographics to their opinion on the project.

The consortium will focus on seven key areas: jobs and economic development, housing, natural resources, cultural resources, energy, land use and transportation, and health and wellness. Among their goals are creating effective job training programs, exploring alternative energy options, increasing transportation choices, and promoting community health resources such as school gym classes and physical activity programs. GroWNC hopes that these goals will promote growth and interconnectivity between counties, rather than each county taking its own path. Carrie Runser-Turner, a senior planner at Land-of-Sky Regional Council, a multi-county planning and development organization, spoke about the importance of this regional focus:

 “GroWNC better conveys our goal of growing together as a region. Really, what we are trying to do is look at the choices we make in these areas [and] how they are interrelated.”

GroWNC is funded by a 2010 Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Planning grant through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. For more on GroWNC, visit their site.

For more on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, visit