LOS logo

Erica Anderson
Director of Economic and Community Development

Agriculture and Forest

WNC has a rich agricultural and forestry heritage. Out Working Lands program assists local governments support the farmers, landowners, skilled craftsmen, and businesses reliant on the unique assets in our region.

WNC AgriVentures

AgriVentures logoThe goal of the Rural Jobs Accelerator is to promote opportunities for accelerated job creation and community and economic development in rural regions through regional collaboration in numerous high-potential industry clusters, including renewable energy, food production, rural tourism, natural resources, and advanced manufacturing. The Rural Jobs Accelerator provides resources to support the development of clusters and to assist distressed rural communities in accelerating job creation by leveraging local assets, building stronger economies, and creating regional linkages. The objectives of the Rural Jobs Accelerator are to:

  • Accelerate distressed rural communities’ ability to create jobs and strengthen their regional economies; and
  • Help rural communities identify and maximize local assets, and connect to regional opportunities and self-identified clusters that demonstrate high-growth potential.

AgriVenturesLand of Sky Regional Council, AdvantageWest, North Carolina State University, Department of Horticultural Science, and the Community Foundation of WNC will build on an existing partnership to create a GroWNC Implementation Project, centered on a high-potential industry cluster in the region – the Agricultural Sector.  GroWNC Workgroups have identified this sector as a priority for regional economic development.  The Agricultural Sector has potential for growth in numerous product chains, including the local beverage industry, natural products, biofuels, local foods, green building, and ecotourism.
The project will incorporate a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach to create a stronger regional agricultural cluster and fill gaps in the production chain with local.  In this way, the project team will focus on developing the market-based demand for products, while building the workforce and production throughout the supply chain.  

WNC Forest Products
Website - www.wncforestproducts.org

WNC Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project
In 2009, the USDA Forest Service – Southern Research Station was awarded nearly $2 million of federal stimulus funds to support forest product businesses in Western North Carolina.  Land of Sky Regional Council was awarded this funding through a competitive process to implement the WNC Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project.

As a result of the project, 14 Western North Carolina businesses received grants through a competitive process to expand into new product lines, improve marketing, and provide workforce training while providing an estimated total of 141 jobs.  Funding these businesses directly contributes to job growth in WNC, but also to the overall supply chain of forest products.  Each of these businesses currently purchases timber and non-timber forest products directly from landowners, handcrafters, local sawyers, artisans, and gleaners.

Through this project, the amount and variety of products and services being purchased will increase as businesses expand and diversify.

The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, based in Asheville, is providing nearly $2 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds for the economic stimulus effort being administered by Land of Sky Regional Council.  The President signed ARRA into law on February 17, 2009.  The Southern Research Station awarded the ARRA grant to LOSRC in a competitive selection process.

Check out www.WNCForestProducts.org for more information about the project, workshops, cooperating organizations, and the businesses receiving support and their projects.  These companies will use the funds to expand and diversify their businesses while providing an estimated total of 141 jobs to under- or unemployed forest producers.  Look for these signs throughout the region that recognize project funding.

WNC Forestry Success Stories is a video highlighting the success of the WNC Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project. The video was created by Turner HD Media, in cooperation with NCSU Department of Horticultural Science. WNC Forestry Success Stories showcases the diverse group of forest enterprises participating in the Western North Carolina Forest Products Cooperative Marketing Project. Click HERE for the eBook version of WNC Forestry Success Stories.