It’s thousands of miles from more recognized hubs of smart growth activity like Seattle and San Francisco, but Western North Carolina has emerged as one of the nation’s leading examples of what is possible when regional planning and economic development strategies find common ground.
Thanks to a $1.6 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, government officials, local citizens and business leaders in the region are taking control of their communities’ future. If recent initiatives meet with the success they promise, an area that was once an afterthought even for many North Carolinians might become a staging ground for new businesses at the forefront of the state’s economy.
“I want my kids and grandkids to have a future here,” said Mark Burrows, Planning and Economic Development Director for Transylvania County. “Even before we knew what sustainability was, this is what we have always wanted…a place where there are jobs and people can walk to work.”