Newsflash - Spring 2024

Newsflash - Spring 2024: The latest from throughout Western North Carolina
Share this


Business-boosting nonprofit bolstered by sizeable government grant Mountain Bizworks, a 501(c)3- designated organization in Asheville that provides business loans and coaching to emerging entrepreneurs, has been awarded more than $2.3 million from the federally-funded U.S. Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to help underserved entrepreneurs grow their businesses. The funding is allocated to assist entrepreneurs from rural areas and minority-prevalent/underresourced communities. The MBDA award, according to a press release, “will support three core pillars for WNC entrepreneurs: capacity building, access to capital, and access to networks.” Mountain Bizworks was founded in 1989, and focuses its investments in small, local businesses around WNC.

Conservancy allocates river access to Watauga County The Blue Ridge Conservancy, based in Roanoke, VA, recently transferred a newly-built public access on the Watauga River in Valle Crucis to the county for management. The access is part of the Watauga River Paddle Trail, situated between the Hwy. 194 bridge and Mast Gap Road, according to BRC’s website. There’s a parking area and ramp on site now, with plans for a kiosk and entrance sign to come soon. The access property covers nearly nine acres, and is a result of donated private land, funding by the Tennessee Valley Authority and Watauga Tourism Development Association, and monies from the NC General Assembly directed through the BRC.

Anglers amplify Western North Carolina economy According to recent data from the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, trout fishing is creating quite an economic impact in North Carolina, especially in the mountainous regions. Anna Gurney, public relations manager for the agency, says the study reveals that every dollar spent in mountain trout fi shing in the state realizes a $1.93 return, resulting in a $1.38 billion economic uptick. “That’s a big number for a small-ish fi sh!” she notes. Respondents in the study selected counties they trout finished in the most during the last five years; the results show that Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Jackson and Haywood counties are the most popular. In addition to the economic value (that includes out-of-state angler contributions, equipment and trip-related expenditures, etc.), the study examines anglers’ motivation for participating in the sport, satisfaction levels, and challenges of trout fi shing in NC as well as feedback on NCWRC’s management of trout.

Hickory named World’s Greatest City, gets national recognition The city of Hickory was recently featured on Bloomberg TV after being named “The World’s Greatest City” by How 2 Media, on their show, World’s Greatest…, which is currently in its 18th season. The producers of the nationally-televised show researched hundreds of cities worldwide and met with town o  cials from across the globe before bestowing the honor to the Catawba County mountain town. Selected because of the city’s history, its people, and craftsmanship, the show determined that Hickory has lived up to its town motto: “Life. Well Crafted.” The two-part episode aired in December 2023, and can also be viewed on the show’s website.