Written by Noah Wilson
Rural Communities Find Economic Development in Manufacturing
Our mountains are blessed with many things; easily buildable land is not one of them. With a limited stock of flat(ish) land to begin with, and each new announcement representing one less site to work with, our region’s economic developers have had to get creative to keep bringing new businesses to rural Western North Carolina and to continue expanding the existing firms that call this place their home.
Notably, they’re succeeding. Even amidst 2020’s many upheavals, major announcements kept heralding the imminent arrival of new manufacturers, from Pratt & Whitney coming to Asheville, to Triple Aught Design moving to Old Fort, to UNIX Packaging expanding to Morganton.
The state of our regional manufacturing industry has us wondering: What are the secrets to success in “traditional” industrial development? How are rural counties with only a limited amount of industrial sites getting creative to keep expanding their existing firms and bring new ones to town as well? How are old-school tools and newer methods coming together to build economies that are both rooted in place and highly attractive to recruitment targets? And how are these initiatives directly impacting our economy and residents? Those behind Western North Carolina’s economic development organizations and manufacturers know the answers.
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