Economic Development Update February 2019
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
2019 is off to a busy start. The first Board of Commissioners Meeting took place on the 3 rd of January, which included an important resolution to replace the Travel and Tourism Board with a new tourism structure. This will be done through a consultative process with local stakeholders and kicked off with a strategy workshop that took place on the 4 th of February and was facilitated by Ms. Ann Bass of the Appalachian Regional Council. The aim was to identify ways the sector can broaden and strengthen its economic impact and consider how to drive investment in the industry and improve our marketing message. We also hope to finally attract a hotel developer to our region as it becomes the “jewel in the crown” of the western side of the State. Ms. Bass will be preparing a report on the workshop and further consultations will take place later in the month.
In late 2018, the federal government launched the new Opportunity Act legislation, which involves the designation of Qualified Opportunity Zones that can benefit from valuable tax incentives for investments In properties in those areas. A large region of Clay County was selected as a qualified Zone and the County will be working closely with the Department of Commerce to see how this Zone can spur new developments in the region. To learn more about the legislation and where Clay County’s designated Opportunity Zone is located, click here
Through the Appalacian Regional Council, Mountain BizWorks was awarded a grant of almost $2m to devise an Outdoor Gear Strategy that will catalyze economic development across the 29-county western region. Along with neighboring counties, the Economic Development Director will be contributing to the strategy through her participation as a member of the Growing Outdoor Assets and Infrastructure Working Group. To learn more about this initiative, click here
Other developments spilling over from 2018 are the awards of two building re-use grants to Union General Hospital and Erlanger-Murphy Medical Center. Both of these health care providers will be establishing urgent care facilities in Clay County and will officially open their extensions within the course of 2019. The County also entered into an agreement with AirMethods to provide free helicopter transfer service to serious injury and casualty patients requiring major medical assistance at hospitals of their choice or need. This will be a great boost to the region in terms of improving access to better quality health care for all of our citizens.
The Clay County government will be hosting an Economic Development Conference on the 8 th of February. The purpose is to bring together key stakeholders to update County business owners and citizens about important developments taking place in the region. This will include input from Mountain Bizworks on their recent work on the Outdoor Gear Strategy, the Department of Transportation will talk about the impact on the community during of the widening of Route 69, the Blue Ridge Mountain EMC will give an update on their work on expanding access to broadband into Clay County, the Mayor of Hayesville will talk about new developments taking place in the town, and there will be a special presentation from United Community Bank on its small business services and products, as well as inputs from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, NC Works Career Center, the Tri-County Small Business Center and the Clay County Chamber of Commerce. We hope this will be an informative session for business owners and citizens who want to learn more about what’s happening in our community.
The Clay County Government has moved its offices to the new government complex above the new Courthouse. Once the remaining offices are moved to their new locations, we hope to see this building be redeveloped for retail or another tourism-related business. Eventually, we hope to attract a hotel development to the region to take advantage of the increasing numbers of overnight visitors coming to local events and attractions.
We also want to call attention to the improvements taking place at the Gibson Cove Campground, which will include upgraded electrical connections, free WiFi access for campers and landscaping that will be ready for the 2019 camping season. The recently signed 30-year lease for TVA land adjacent to the campground will also contribute to future economic growth through development of land along the Lake Chatuge shoreline. Stay tuned to our website for more updates on these and other exciting developments.