LOS logo

About Land of Sky Regional Council

Who We Are:

Land of Sky Regional Council is a multi-county, local government, planning and development organization. We reach county and municipal borders providing technical assistance to local governments and administer projects and programs which benefit our region’s citizens.

What We Offer:

  • Economic & Community Development - To help fulfill the Council’s Mission, this department conducts planning, economic, and community development services for our local governments and communities. The goal of the department is to meet the needs and desires of our region now and into the future.
  • Volunteer Services - The Volunteer Services Department connects adults 55 and older with the people and organizations that need them the most. We help them become mentors and companions or contribute their job skills and expertise to community projects.
  • Area Agency on Aging - Area Agency on Aging promotes the highest level of well being of older adults and their families by partnering with organizations to provide a comprehensive system of opportunities, services, and protective supports.
  • Mountain Area Workforce Development - Created through federal legislation, Mountain Area Workforce Development oversees a single, comprehensive strategic plan for the four-county area by identifying workforce development issues and the needs of local businesses.
  • Mountain Mobility - Mountain Mobility is Buncombe County’s public transportation system. It provides transportation services to clients of human services agencies, departments of local governments, and the general public for persons residing in Buncombe County. LOS manages the administrative functions of Mountain Mobility through a service contract with Buncombe County.

Our Mission:

Our mission is to provide creative regional solutions to relevant and emerging issues in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties while providing a standard of excellence in the delivery of federal, state, and regional services for our member communities.


The Council began in 1966 as a partnership of five counties, Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania. Later, Haywood County became part of "Region A", and "Region B" brought the region's municipalities (now numbering 15) into the partnership. The Council and its member governments work with a several federal partner and other agencies to help fund regional hospitals, libraries, community colleges, water and sewer projects, industrial parks and sites, etc.

1965 - Appalachian Regional Development Act included parts of 13 states, system of ultimately 69 Local Development Districts (LDDs)

1965-66 - Upper French Broad Planning and Economic Development Commission organized (Haywood was 5th county/member) and board was appointed by 5 counties. Governor Dan Moore appointed the first Executive Director to serve the organization and some other staff were also state employees (until 1974). TVA system of 14 dams proposed and strongly supported by UFBEDC), resulting in organized opposition by Upper French Broad Defense Association and ultimately cancellation by TVA in early 1970s.

1971 - Governor Bob Scott’s Statewide Development Policy and an executive order provided for one Lead Regional Organization (LRO) in each of 17 proposed regions with primacy for certain funds and regional programs. New by-laws for Region B Commission provided for board of county and municipal government leaders.

1973 - Lead Regional Organization (LRO) designation was last in State after staffing dispute and membership “renewals”/activation and other issues were resolved. Area Agency on Aging (AAA) started in Region as one of five High Impact Areas for elderly services and elderly nutrition program began. Renamed Land-of-Sky Regional Council on motion by Mayor Bill Baxter (Laurel Park). Robert Shepherd named Executive Director of Land-of-Sky Regional Council.

1974 - Governor James Holshouser offers package of programs (several new) to LROs--Intergovernmental Human Services Program, which included aging, EMS, workforce development, law enforcement planning, child development (ARC-funded), comprehensive family planning, and WIC--Women, Infants and Children nutrition. The Council wrote the application which brought WIC to all 4 county health departments. US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designation as Areawide Planning Organization (APO) and annual funding (until program ending in 1982)--paid for first regional plans in land use (1978).

1975 - Mountain Valleys Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) application approved by US Department of Agriculture. Areawide Water Quality Planning Agency designation and funding by Environmental Protection Agency, second in State. The Management Plan called for consolidation of 13 leaky sewer systems, achieved in 1989 under MSD.

1976 - TVA began funding of River Improvement Program, leading to river cleanup by counties, 15 river access parks, French Broad River Festival, FBR Foundation (later merged into River Link)

1978 - Took over the Title V Senior Community Services Employment Program (SCSEP) from the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker’s program. SCSEP provides unemployed, 55 and older, low-income adults with training to gain meaningful part-time work experience in community service at a non-profit or governmental organization, as well as unsubsidized employment in the private sector.

1982 - Regional Vision ‘95 strategic plan completed, first several. COG-based plan in nation. National Strategic Planning Guide published by National Association of Regional Councils and training events held: “Guide to Strategic Decision Making for Regions”. Carolina West (recommended in RV ‘95 strategic plan) organized for economic promotion (included professional county/city and public utility developers and additional counties).

1983 - Economic Development Administration funded program to develop plans leading to funding as an Economic Development District (EDD); funding continues and designation was finalized in 1991 after providing for at-large Economic Development Representatives on Council.

1985 - Began volunteer program funding through the Corporation for National Community Service with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), followed by the Senior Companion and the Foster Grandparent Program with a $3 million annual benefit to the Region. RSVP provides 55+ the opportunity to apply their life experience to meeting critical community needs, SCP involves volunteers ages 55+ in supportive services to keep older adults living independently at home, and FGP connects volunteers 55+ with at-risk children in schools, childcare centers, and Head Start programs.

Began regional solid waste reduction program aided by the Regional Solid Waste Alternatives Committee (RSWAC).

1988 - Organized I 26 Corridor Association, 17 Counties, to advocate for a better connection of the Region to Tennessee, leading to completion in 2003. Organized Blue Ridge Mountain Host for joint promotion of tourism in Region (with additional counties). Began Regional Articulation in Vocational Education (RAVE) in cooperation with AB Tech, Blue Ridge Tech, 4 county school systems and industry/business representatives. Program was funded by ARC, NC Division of Community Colleges, NC Department of Public Instruction, Z Smith Reynolds Foundation and others. Program which gives advanced placement in community colleges for qualifying high school coursework is still in effect.

1990 - Named “Outstanding Regional Council” in nation by National Association of Regional Councils. TVA began funding of Waste Reduction Partners (originally Waste Reduction and Technology Transfer program (WRATT) to utilize retired engineers and technicians.

1992 - The Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) was created by the state using Older American Act federal, state and local fundsto contract with local service providers to meet older adult needs with the hope of keeping them at home longer.

1993 - Organized, and achieved funding for, Asheville Regional Housing Consortium with 12 local governments as members (still active).

1994 - National Model developed for regional solid waste planning with a manual and national conference in Asheville.

1995 - Received and administered US Department of Commerce grant that funded Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) to provide last-mile Internet connectivity to WNC.

1996 - Regional Air Qualify Programs: SAMI (Southern Appalachian Mountains Initiative), contracted with NC DENR to conduct a study of an 8-state region. Other related work includes Clean Air Campaign, Clean Vehicles Coalition and supportive data for Clean Smokestacks Act.

1999 - The Foster Grandparent Program joined the Volunteer Services funded by Corporation for National and Community Service. These are part-time, low-income stipended trained volunteers, helping children.

2000 - The Family Caregiver Support Program began under the Older Americans Act of 1965. FCSP provides services for family members or friends who care for a frail older person and to older relatives who are the primary caregivers of someone age 18 or younger.

2003 - NC DOT designated the Council as Rural Transportation Regional Planning Organization (RPO) also serving Haywood County. Regional Brownfields Program began to remediate polluted sites with economic development potential. Joe McKinney becomes Executive Director of Land-of-Sky Regional Council.

2004 - Began the Clean Vehicles Coalition under the Clean Cities which is a program of the US Department of Energy that works with states and communities across the country to promote the use of cleaner, alternative fuels and vehicles.

2007 - Began administering the Living Healthy with a Chronic Condition or Diabetes program, also known as Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. The program is designed for people with one or more chronic condition and their caregiver or loved-one.

2009 - Staffs the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for the Asheville Metropolitan Area transportation and resumed staffing the regional Workforce Development Board for the 4 counties.

2010 - Began the WNC Forest Products Marketing Project.

2011 - Began administering Mountain Mobility, Buncombe County’s public transportation system. Began the GroWNC Visioning. The Community Resource Connections (CRC) Project became operational (later became the Local Contract Agency). Started to receive Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA) funds. Began the LGBT Elder Advocates of WNC. Began administering the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board.

2012 - Designated by the US DOE on July 26, 2012 as an official Clean Cities program for the five county area.

2013 - Began administering Project C.A.R.E. (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty) and A Matter of Balance Program. Project C.A.R.E. assists caregivers of people with dementia by providing a Family Consultant to help resolve caregiving issues. Justin Hembree becomes Executive Director of Land of Sky Regional Council.

2015 - Began operating of the Non-Emergency Medicaid Transportation Resource Center and the Dementia Friendly WNC.

2016 - Began the GO Mountain Commuting Program and the Broadband WestNGN Program.