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GroWNC Blog

GroWNC Regional Plan
By: Sealy Chipley (Published November 15, 2013)

Over the last few months, we released a final regional plan that can be used to guide future growth and development in the region! From that, we created a user-friendly toolkit where interested individuals can easily access the nearly 300 voluntary implementation strategies that you, as participants, helped to develop. We have organized these strategies into similar categories, and provide links to more information and case studies! In addition to this searchable database, we are also offering a MapViewer, an interactive, web-based map of our region, where data layers used to guide the project are available to you! We hope you’ll check out these great resources!

GroWNC Update
By: Sealy Chipley (Published July 2, 2013)

Here in the GroWNC world, we have really been involved in the creation of our final products. We have been finalizing the workbook and will soon be transferring it to a database form. Ultimately, it will become a user-friendly searchable online tool much like the WNC Vitality Index! If you haven’t seen their site, take a look here!

Check out our updated GroWNC website as well that reflects some of our recent work.

We have been writing the final report that incorporates a summary of the full process we have undertaken since the project’s beginning in 2011. It includes information about the scenario planning process, a summary of the input that community groups and individuals have provided to us through the course of the project, and proposed activities to help our region work towards the goals that have been identified throughout the process. The GroWNC team, with the help of the participants at the most recent ThemeGroup meetings, identified some “early implementation” activities that will be highlighted in the report. We look forward to sharing these with you after the GroWNC Steering Committee provides their input, so stay tuned!

Theme Meetings Update
By: Sealy Chipley (Published May 10, 2013)

Last week, we finished up the last of our eight “Theme Meetings.” We received an incredible amount of input and suggestions to improve and expand our set of implementation strategies.  Participants came from a wide variety of backgrounds and specialties and brought with them a wide range of expertise. Staff members have been working to update the workbook based on the suggestions community leaders and other participants have provided us. We will continue to refine and add to the suggestions and policies that make up our comprehensive list. This means that we are one step closer to creating a searchable online tool that local government staff, elected officials and community partners can use in order to create lasting improvements across the region!

Theme Meetings
By: Sealy Chipley (Published April 19, 2013)

The next round of meetings start next week! We hope you will provide your input on implementation strategies we have created based on your feedback and strategies that other communities have implemented. We need your help reviewing, refining, and prioritizing the list of initiatives we have so far. The Theme Meetings will be structured a little bit differently than the Workgroup meetings in order to encourage more cross-collaboration of ideas. This reorganization is to ensure that expertise from each of the Workgroups will be spread out across the meetings. We really value the time and effort you all have put into this process! We are starting to see some amazing results, so take a look at the Theme Meeting list at the link below, determine which meeting(s) you may want to attend, and RSVP online! We look forward to seeing you!

Theme Meetings

Business Survey Summary
By: Sealy Chipley (Published April 12, 2013)

A few months ago, we asked local businesses how they felt about the challenges and opportunities associated with conducting their operations in the region. We did this to gather feedback and facilitate the creation of our “preferred” development scenario. A total of 80 businesses provided responses to our questions.  It was very informative to learn more about the aspects of our region that make it an attractive place to do business as well as the types of challenges business owners face. We also asked them what types of changes would make doing business in the region easier. Some of the strategies that people suggested have been incorporated into our Strategies Workbook. We will continue to refine these suggestions at our next round of meetings at the end of April and beginning of May, and would love to get more input on them! Please check out the Business Survey Summary document on our website and think about attending one of the Theme Meetings in order to provide more valuable input!

Workgroup Worksession 3 Follow-up
By: Sealy Chipley (Published March 25, 2013)

First of all, thanks to those of you who came out for the third GroWNC Work Session! We had over 100 individuals who joined us at the NC Arboretum. We shared an overarching summary of public input we have received and how all the existing plans and input have shaped a “preferred” scenario for future growth and development.  Participants then broke up into groups to brainstorm some exciting local and regional implementation strategies. We are now working hard to take all this input to the next level, which will be to have another round of small group meetings to expand upon specific projects and strategies that will help communities and the region as whole meet the identified goals.    
Be sure to check out our Facebook page for some photos of the event and stay tuned for the information about the next set of meetings!

Workgroup Worksession 3
By: Sealy Chipley (Published March 6, 2013)

Please consider joining us for our Workgroup Worksession 3 at the NC Arboretum Tuesday, March 12, from 9 to 1! We will discuss the preferred scenario and share some of our key recommendations. You will then be able to provide input by participating in a brainstorming session about specific implementation strategies we can take. After that, stick around for a roundtable discussion and free lunch! We will have several roundtable participants who will introduce exciting local and regional implementation projects and explain how their projects fit into the larger regional context. You will also have the opportunity to ask these folks questions. The speakers will be:

  1. Trevor Baker, Noble Cider
  2. Gwynne Rukenbrod, Executive Director, HandMade in America
  3. Jeanine Davis, NC Cooperative Extension, WNC AgriVentures
  4. Matt Raker, AdvantageWest, Industrial Lands Analysis, Value-Added Food Products, and related  

Reaching Out to Community Groups
By: Sealy Chipley (Published February 18, 2013)

We have been hard at work on the GroWNC project! Over the last few weeks, we have been reaching out to existing community groups in the region. Some sample groups include the Young Professionals of Henderson County, the Western North Carolina Health Network, and the Madison County Rotary Club. We have been asking folks which priorities we should focus on while we develop a recommended regional plan that covers the next 25 years. We have found that some of the most common outcomes include thriving entrepreneurs and small businesses, the preservation of scenic beauty as development continues, and the conservation of clean water resources.  We are now taking this input into consideration as we create our hybrid scenario. Stay tuned for a more complete report on this in the next few weeks!

Virtual Meeting
By: Sealy Chipley (Published January 4, 2013)

Here’s the latest update on GroWNC! We held a series of Community Meetings in November and December to gather input on a set of possible future scenarios. In an effort to broaden participation and community input, we have developed a Virtual Meeting, available on the website, which includes all of the materials that were shared with the public at the Community Meetings. We have also developed a survey which will allow residents to provide their preferred outcomes (similar to the way we gathered input at the public meetings). We will be accepting input via this Virtual Meeting through January 25, 2013.
To participate, please click here and:

  1. Watch the video.
  2. Take a look at the flip book - or if you'd rather, download the pdf and look through it.
  3. Follow the link to the virtual meeting survey (below the flip book), answer some questions and you're done!

Community Input #3
By: Sealy Chipley (Published December 14, 2012)

A third question was also posed to residents in the region as a sort of follow-on to the first two: What do you hope to see in your community five years from now? Think about what your kids, your grandkids or your neighbors will experience in the future and describe what that looks like. Residents across the region expressed changes that they thought would make this an even better place to live. There were some variations in the types of responses by county, but overall the message was clear. Residents hope to see planned economic growth and increased access to the things that matter to them, such as transportation options, healthcare, and parks. Here is a visual representation of some of the responses we received.

More Community Input
By: Sealy Chipley (Published November 28, 2012)

We also received a large number of responses from community members across the region about improvements that would make the area a better place. Many individuals from each of the five counties provided distinct suggestions specific to their communities. These recommendations provide a fresh new perspective about actions we can take to make our mountain home a better place. Here are a few of the comments we received in answer to the question: What do you think most needs improvement and what should we do to address it?

Community Input
By: Sealy Chipley (Published November 14, 2012)

Over the past few months, we have received valuable community input from a variety of sources: community meetings, business surveys, and attendance at expos held across the region. We want to make sure this input doesn't go unnoticed! To do that, we're going to be sharing snippets of the feedback here on the blog. This first post is a sampling of the feedback we received from across the region as a whole. The region includes Buncombe, Madison, Haywood, Transylvania, and Henderson counties. The sampling of comments you see here is in response to the question: "what do you love MOST about your community?”