Smart growth in the Smoky Mountains – Graham County, NC to host strategy workshops

Photo via Graham County Chamber of Information.

Tucked in a corner of the Smoky Mountains, Graham County, North Carolina is a rural community known for it’s abundant natural beauty, windy mountain roads, local produce and artisans. As county residents look toward the future of their community, Smart Growth America will assist Graham County in how to utilize their existing assets to ensure a healthy, economically productive place in which to live, work and play.

On April 2 and 3, 2013, Graham County officials and local residents will meet with representatives from Smart Growth America as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshops aim to find innovative strategies for improving the county’s safety, health and economy through the development of a resident led action plan for future growth.

“We in Western North Carolina are excited about working with Smart Growth America,” said Melissa McKnight, Community Transformation Grant Intervention Lead at the Graham County Health Department. “We hope to learn about the intersection between public health and planning, how to implement smart growth principles into our rural communities, and how to break down silos to ensure that we move the work forward together.”

Graham County residents are invited to join the workshop’s first day for an introductory presentation that will feature smart growth stories from across the country. The event will be held Tuesday, April 2, 2013 from 4:00–6:00 PM at the Healthful Living Center at Robbinsville High School, 301 Sweetwater Road, Robbinsville, NC, 28771.

“Smart Growth America is committed to providing training to help community leaders keep their cities and towns livable, sustainable and vital places,” said Roger Millar, Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. “Graham County has a unique opportunity to engage its residents and local leaders in creating an action plan that will aid in the development of the county’s overall economy, safety and health. This workshop will give the County the tools to effectively apply smart growth principles to their efforts to shape the future the citizens of the County want.”

In November 2012, Graham County was one of 22 communities selected by Smart Growth America to participate in the free technical assistance program. Stretching from Maine to Washington State, these communities represent major cities, suburban centers, and rural towns alike.

The program, made possible through a five-year Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Sustainable Communities, seeks to develop local planning solutions that help communities grow in ways that benefit families and businesses, while protecting the environment and preserving a sense of place. Three other nonprofit organizations—Forterra, Global Green USA and Project for Public Spaces—also received competitively awarded grants under this program to help communities get the kinds of development they want.

Workshop Materials

Workshop Outcomes

Technical assistance