Mitchell County Government
Mitchell County has a county-manager form of government. Its 5-member Board of Commissioners appoints the members of the County’s Economic Development Commission (see description, below), and provides funding for it. The Board of Commissioners established the Economic Development Incentive Grant Fund of Mitchell County, which can be used to assist private industries and commercial businesses that are interested in occupying vacant manufacturing facilities in Mitchell County. This Grant Fund also assists businesses that want to expand existing facilities or build new ones that will provide new or add more employment opportunities in Mitchell County.
Mitchell County Economic Development Commission
The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners reconstituted and reorganized the Economic Development Commission (EDC) in April of 2013. The EDC is a 9-member board with representatives of the business, education and local government sectors. The purpose of the EDC is to encourage and promote economic development in the county. The EDC’s mission is to provide a unified economic development program that will encourage and promote the establishment, development and retention of industrial, commercial, residential and retail businesses in Mitchell County. The EDC provides support to existing businesses and industries and works to recruit new ones.
Town of Bakersville
As the Mitchell County seat, the Town of Bakersville is home to the Mitchell County Courthouse and most Mitchell County Government offices. Bakersville has a mayor-council form of government. The Town has its own public water and wastewater collection systems. It also provides police protection, residential garbage and recyclables pick-up, street maintenance and streetlights. The Bakersville Creekwalk, along Cane Creek in the downtown area, offers recreation and community gathering opportunities.The Town of Bakersville’s representative on the Mitchell County EDC is currently its Mayor.
Town of Spruce Pine
The Town of Spruce Pine operates under a council–manager form of government. It provides both water and wastewater services inside and to some areas outside its corporate limits. Other services include police and fire protection, parks and recreation, downtown economic development (see Spruce Pine Main Street Program description, below), street maintenance, pick-up of leaves and brush, among other services. The Town regulates land use in its planning jurisdiction through its zoning ordinance.
Spruce Pine offers several incentives for businesses, including a revolving loan fund with an interest rate of 5% and a building façade grants program for commercial properties within the designated Spruce Pine Main Street area. Façade grants provide a 50/50 match (up to $2,000) to successful applicants for expenses related to permanent building façade improvements. The Town Manager represents Spruce Pine on the Mitchell County EDC.
Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Mitchell County Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), a 400+ member organization for area businesses, is to support business and promote community. Led by a 19-member Board of Directors and two staff members, the Chamber promotes Mitchell County and its member businesses, and provides networking opportunities, training and other support services for these businesses. It is also the County’s primary travel and tourism development and marketing organization. As such, it operates a Visitor Center near the Blue Ridge Parkway in the National Park Service’s Museum of North Carolina Minerals, which sees more than 200,000 people a year. The Chamber also has an office in downtown Spruce Pine.
Per state law, Mitchell County remits to the Chamber, on a quarterly basis, the net proceeds of the 3 percent occupancy tax revenue it collects on rentals of rooms, lodging, or similar overnight accommodations provided by hotels, motels, inns, and related businesses. The legislation stipulates that the funds be used to promote travel and tourism, to sponsor tourist-oriented events and activities, and to finance tourism-related capital projects. The Chamber has a Travel and Tourism Committee that guides the use of these funds.
Perhaps the most significant tourism income-generating event that the Chamber organizes is the annual North Carolina Mineral, Gem and Jewelry Festival. The festival, which started in the early 1950s, brings approximately 50 vendors and 6,000 visitors from around the country to Spruce Pine for several days each summer. Two other mineral and gem shows occur concurrently with the North Carolina Mineral, Gem and Jewelry Festival in the Spruce Pine area, increasing total visitation to approximately 10,000.
Market on Oak
The Market on Oak is a non-profit destination retail shop in downtown Spruce Pine that promotes and sells works and products made exclusively by Western North Carolina artists, farmers, food artisans, writers, and musicians. The Market on Oak’s mission is to provide the gifted, vibrant people of our region – many of whom have lost their jobs in the furniture and manufacturing industries to overseas factory relocations – a way to make a living doing what they love and what they know best. The Market on Oak grew out of the Home of the Perfect Christmas Tree project of the Mitchell County Development Foundation, Inc.. Market on Oak strives to give visitors a sense of Western North Carolina mountain culture and values, while providing an opportunity for its producers to earn income from their craft. It also provides annual scholarships to local high school students to help them further their education.
Spruce Pine Main Street
Spruce Pine became a designated North Carolina Main Street community in 1991. The Spruce Pine Main Street area generally consists of properties between Oak Street and US Hwy 19E intersection on the east, Greenwood Road to the west, Walnut Avenue and Oak Avenue to the north and US Highway 19E to the south (see inset on Map 8).
Spruce Pine Main Street, Inc. (SPMS), which manages the local Main Street program, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation with a 15-member Board of Directors and an Executive Director. SPMS operates with funding and other support from the Town of Spruce Pine as well as volunteers. The mission of Spruce Pine Main Street, Inc. is to foster and promote the economic and cultural viability of our downtown center through a spirit of cooperation.
SPMS hosts/co-hosts several annual downtown festivals and develops and implements projects and programs, such as the Main Street Central Park project, to enhance downtown. Its work is guided by the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s model for downtown economic development, known as the Main Street Four Point Approach®, which emphasizes organization, design, promotion, and economic restructuring. In 2012, SPMS adopted a Downtown Master Plan.
- Loans up to $250,000, tied to job creation
- Loans up to $25,000 for low-income business owners
- US Small Business Administration lender
- Loans for female business owners
- Loans for developers of multifamily housing
- Funding for childcare providers
- Loans for charter schools
Golden LEAF Foundation
- Administered by Self-Help
- Focus on healthcare, construction, green industries, agriculture, manufacturing
NC Rural Center
- Works with participating lenders
- $100,000 average loan
- Loans for machinery, livestock, operating capital, land
- Loans for agribusiness marketing, food processing
- Loans for young and beginning farmers
Blue Ridge Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc.
- Grants to reimburse for investments related to improved efficiency in existing buildings
North Carolina Department of Commerce
The North Carolina Department of Commerce (NC Commerce) is the State’s lead agency for economic, community, and workforce development. Its mission is to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for all North Carolinians. NC Commerce and its divisions oversee the state’s economic incentive programs, administer the State’s employment security system, provide communities with economic and community development grants and planning services, and publish data, statistics, information, and reports on the economy for businesses, policymakers, local governments, citizens, and others. NC Commerce also manages the State’s contract with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina for business recruitment, marketing, and other functions.
Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina
Founded in 2014, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, that manages business and job recruitment retention, international trade, tourism, film, and sports development on behalf of (and under a contract with) the State of North Carolina and its Department of Commerce. In 2015, Mitchell County developed a direct link to the EDPNC.
Bill Slagle is now employed by the EDPNC’s Business Services unit as the Northwest Regional Industry Manager. In that role, Bill provides support to existing industries in a 12-county area of the state known as the Northwest Prosperity Zone.
North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
The mission of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NC DACS) is to provide services that promote and improve agriculture, agribusiness and forests,protect consumers and businesses, and conserve farmland and natural resources for the prosperity of all North Carolinians. NC DACS and its divisions work with farmers, businesses, and consumers on a variety of regulatory matters and non-regulatory services in areas that intersect with economic development, These areas include agricultural and livestock marketing and promotion (such as its Got to Be NC marketing campaign), agricultural economic analysis, and operation of the North Carolina State Fair, the North Carolina Mountain State Fair, and four state farmers markets.
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service
The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service is based in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University and in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at North Carolina A&T University. The NC Cooperative Extension Service works with communities to provide research-based agricultural, food, and youth programs to enrich the lives, land, and economy of North Carolinians. It does so through centers in each county in the state and with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, where county agents connect their communities with the research, technology, and other resources of the universities. NC Cooperative Extension Service also collaborates with partners in agriculture, business, education, government, and industry, as well as the national network of land-grant universities and the United States Department of Agriculture.
US Economic Development Administration
A branch of the US Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) is the only federal government agency focused exclusively on economic development. EDA accomplishes its mission through strategic investments that foster job creation and private-sector investment. Investments are made within the following EDA programs:
- Public Works – provides funding for physical infrastructure necessary for business attraction/expansion
- Economic Adjustment – assists state and local governments that are experiencing challenges to their economic base
- Trade Adjustment Assistance – helps strengthen the competitiveness of American companies that have lost sales and employment because of increased imports
- Local Technical Assistance – provides funding for feasibility studies for potential economic development projects (industrial parks, incubators, etc.)
The EDA operates through six regional offices nationwide, and has Economic Development Representatives that are points of contact at the State level. Recent EDA investments in Mitchell County include a Local Technical Assistance grant to assist TRAC with a branding/wayfinding project, and a Public Works grant to the Town of Spruce Pine to improve infrastructure serving PRC Industries.
Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is a regional economic development agency established by Congress in 1965. The ARC region covers portions of 13 states, including the 29 western counties in NC. The ARC provides matching funds to local governments, non-profits, and educational institutions for projects that increase job opportunities and incomes. ARC program areas include asset-based development, infrastructure, education/training, entrepreneurship, health, telecommunications, and transportation. ARC programs in NC are managed by staff of the NC Department of Commerce, Rural Economic Development Division, with local assistance provided by Local Development Districts (LDD). The LDD serving Mitchell County is High Country Council of Governments. Past ARC investments in Mitchell County include a grant to improve the access road serving the County’s industrial site, and a grant to Graham’s Children Health Services for telemedicine equipment for the County’s elementary schools.
US Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development branch operates over 50 programs to improve the economy and quality of life in rural areas. Common programs include:
- Business and Industry Loan Guarantees – guarantees bank loans to rural businesses
- Community Facilities Loans and Grants – provides funds for health care facilities, town halls, child care centers, fire trucks, etc.
- Housing Programs – a variety of housing programs provide loans and grants directly to homeowners
- Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant – provides funding to local governments for water and sewer system improvements
- Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant – capitalizes revolving loan funds for local utilities (i.e., electric cooperatives) to make loans to businesses that will create or retain jobs
USDA Rural Development programs are administered through a network of Area and Local Offices. The Area Office serving Mitchell County is in Asheville; there is a Local Office in Spruce Pine.
US Small Business Administration
The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) provides assistance to small businesses through the following functions:
- Access to capital
- Entrepreneurial education and training
- Government contracting assistance
- Advocacy (related to regulatory burdens on small businesses)
The SBA’s two primary loan programs are the 7(a) program and the 504 program. The 7(a) program provides funding to small businesses through a private lender. The 7(a) loans can be used for purchase of real estate and equipment, as well as working capital. The 504 program provides loans directly to businesses for real estate and equipment. The 504 program is managed through Certified Development Companies, eight of which operate in NC.
Technical assistance is provided by the SBA through support of US Export Assistance Centers, Small Business Development Centers (at University of North Carolina system universities), Women’s Business Centers, Veteran’s Business Centers, and SCORE chapters.
The Mitchell County EDC office is ready to assist interested parties with grant or incentive funding applications at any time. We can help existing and prospective employers connect with the right local, state, and federal resources to optimize outcomes for various types of funding. The Mitchell County EDC has successfully partnered with many businesses in the past, and looks forward to many more successful partnerships in the future.