Southwestern Commission 
News and Updates from around Region A
  The mission of the Southwestern Commission is to improve the quality of life in its seven county service area by assisting local governments in reaching their goals.
Governor Cooper to Serve As 2019 Appalachian Regional Commission States Co-Chair

 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas announced that Appalachia’s 13 governors have elected North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to serve as ARC’s States’ Co-Chair for 2019.

As part of ARC’s federal-state partnership structure, Appalachia’s governors elect a states’ co-chair annually. The position is primarily responsible for working directly with the Federal Co-Chair to oversee economic growth and development across the Appalachian Region. The State’s Co-Chair also hosts ARC’s Annual Summit, which will take place in Asheville, North Carolina in September, 2019. 

As one of his first official acts as ARC States’ Co-Chair, Governor Cooper’s Administration co-hosted a Substance Abuse Listening Session with ARC’s Federal Co-Chair Tim Thomas focusing on strategies to address the Region’s substance use disorder crisis while also strengthening economic opportunity. The Listening Session took place on Tuesday, January 15, 2019 at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

Cooper is ARC’s 66th states’ co-chair, and the second governor from North Carolina to hold the position in ARC’s 54 year history. He succeeds Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, who held the post in 2018. The last ARC states’ co-chair from North Carolina was former Governor James B. Hunt, Jr, who held the position in 1978. Twenty-nine North Carolina counties are part of ARC’s 420-county footprint, which stretches from northern Mississippi to New York’s Southern Tier. ARC investments in North Carolina are coordinated by North Carolina’s Department of Commerce.
Orientation for Elected Officials
Please join us to learn more about the Southwestern Commission's programs and operations.

This event is designed to orient elected officials to the Southwestern Commission Council of Governments, and it is open to any elected official and government staff.

The Southwestern Commission has been working with local governments in the 7 western counties of North Carolina for over 50 years to improve the quality of life in the region through our work in Workforce Development, Community and Economic Development, and Aging Services.

We are holding two identical sessions, please attend whichever is most convenient:

February 19 (Tuesday) 5:30 PM at the Southwestern Commission office in Sylva
February 25 (Monday) 5:30 PM Cherokee County Center for Applied Technology in Marble

"Downtown Strong"- New Initiative Will Help Communities Expand Economic Development Capacity
The North Carolina Department of Commerce is investing $260,000 in Downtown Strong, a program to build local government capacity by providing economic development planning and revitalization resources and guidance. The program is a result of feedback gleaned from Governor Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative. Downtown Strong will operate out of the Department of Commerce’s Main Street and Rural Planning Center.

Downtown Strong is a result of feedback from rural leaders during Hometown Strong community meetings. Hometown Strong convenes leaders from every cabinet agency to meet with local leaders to forge new relationships, increase communication and help state government better serve rural North Carolinians.

The Main Street and Rural Planning Center, which will head up Downtown Strong, provides technical assistance services to communities that are revitalizing and preserving their traditional downtown commercial districts as mixed-use centers of activity. Downtown Strong will assist communities that are not yet part of the formal Main Street program or that have needs outside the traditional program.

Click HERE for more information.
Great opportunity to learn about government budgeting: UNC School of Government Brings "Budgetopolis" to Hayesville
COMING FEBRUARY 21 at the Hinton Rural Center in Hayesville: 

The Local Government Training Program at WCU is partnering with the Hinton Rural Center and UNC’s School of Government to offer an evening workshop where attendees will participate in the award winning “Budgetopolis” budget simulation.

“Budgetopolis ……. designed to look like (a) board game… help newly elected city and county officials (and others) learn to work as a governing board, agree upon common goals and values, and make budgetary decisions as a group. The simulation helps participants talk through the tough decisions they make about their communities' futures.”

The cost for the program will be $15.00, which includes dinner. Register by February 13th.
Welcome to New NCWorks Career Center Directors
Southwestern Workforce Development Board is pleased to announce three new NCWorks Career Center Managers in Region A; Paula Alter, Tom Brownback and Lisa Morris.

Paula Alter will be at the Macon County NCWorks Career Center with her responsibilities including oversight of the Jackson and Swain County Career Centers. Paula brings nearly 30 years of leadership experience from the healthcare and workforce industries including staff, business and program development, recruitment and hiring processes, as well as public and media relations. 

Tom Brownback comes to the Tri-County NCWorks Career Center with over 25 years of experience in human resources management and over 12 years of retail management. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University and resides in Murphy with his wife, Margi.

Lisa Morris leads the charge at the Haywood County NCWorks Career Center. She is a graduate of Western Carolina University with certifications as a Career Services Provider and in Global Career Development. Since 1996, she has been dedicated to public service working with the Department of Social Services, supervising the Welcome Team at Asheville Career Center along with two reemployment programs, and serving as the Career Center Assistant Manager before becoming the Manager.

 Congratulations to Paula, Tom and Lisa!
[Pictured (left to right): Tom Brownback, Lisa Morris and Paula Alter]
Procedural Rules and Liability Course in Asheville in March
WCU’s Local Government Training Program is once again partnering with UNC’s School of Government to offer two workshops focusing on procedural rules and liability topics for public officials. The workshops will be on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019 from 10:00am-3:15pm

 UNC School of Government faculty member Trey Allen will address two topics of abiding interest to local government officials. In Session I, Allen will discuss rules of procedure for local government boards, paying special attention to common procedural problems. In Session II, Allen will explore fundamental principles for determining the liability of local governments, public officials, and public employees for injuries to persons and property.

Be sure to check out the " Regional Trainings and Events" section of our newsletter for more training opportunities!
Livestock Market Celebrates Sales

On January 14, the WNC Livestock Market celebrated a major milestone-- in 2018 the market passed $100 million in sales since its opening in 2011.

At the January 14 event, all those involved with funding this project were recognized, and Southwestern Commission Executive Director Sarah Thompson was on hand to accept plaques on behalf of Golden LEAF Foundation, the NC Rural Center, and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Photo at rights shows Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers with LT Ward of WNC Communities.

WCU Outdoor Gear Summit
Western Carolina University is hosting an Outdoor Gear Design and Manufacturing Summit on Thursday, February 21, 2019, on the Cullowhee campus. The summit will begin at 10 AM and end at 2 PM. Attendance will be limited to 50 guests.

Western is inviting companies and professionals who are active in gear design and manufacturing to learn more about WCU’s student, faculty, and equipment resources that help catalyze businesses.

If you would like to attend the summit, need more information, or are interested in sponsorship opportunities, please email Courtney Holder at
Welcome to Brenda Millett!
Please join us in welcoming Brenda Millett back to the Southwestern Commission as the Regional Finish Line Grant Case Manager!

On July 12, 2018, Governor Roy Cooper announced the Finish Line Grants program to help community college students complete their training when facing unforeseen challenges. These grants are specifically for students who have completed more than 50 percent of a WIOA-approved curriculum and are facing an emergency crisis that could prevent them from completing their degree. Brenda will be working with the community colleges in our region to identify and help students who qualify for these grants.
Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Event in Waynesville
You're invited to participate in a local Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL) Supper Club event in Waynesville on February 6.

Supper clubs are a great way to connect local government folks throughout the region – they’re informal, casual events where people can meet up to enjoy dinner, network, and build new relationships with others in their field. These events are fun for current local government folks as well as those in state, federal, and nonprofit agencies focused on some of the same issues impacting local governments everywhere.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.
Boojum Brewery Taproom, 50 N. Main Street, Waynesville, NC 28786
Mountain West Partnership Video- "Planting the Seeds"
Regional Updates
  • The Division of Aging and Adult Services has created an in-depth profile of adults 65 and over, future projections, socio-economic, housing, health and other indicators of well-being.
  • The Mountain West Partnership is now on Facebook and Twitter!
  • The Southwestern Commission is on Facebook! Be sure to "like" us for more regional information.

Regional Trainings and Events