Public Comment sought for Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Region A

For the last year, the Southwestern Commission has worked to develop the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy for Region A as part of our partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration. This was done with input from a variety of stakeholders through both surveys and through the formation of a steering committee made up of public, private, and non-profit stakeholders in the region. The goal of the project has been to identify goals and objectives that would move the region forward over the next five years and support funding requests for local projects.

We are taking public comment through September 25th and would appreciate your comments on the plan. We would also appreciate if you would share this with other stakeholders in your community. You can follow the link below to access the plan.

Comments can be sent to or mailed anonymously to:

Southwestern Commission
125 Bonnie Lane
Sylva, NC 28779

2017 CEDS for Region A

Energy-Saving Program for Robbinsville Community

Duke Energy brings a free energy-saving program to the Robbinsville community.  This program will make more than 1,200 households in Robbinsville eligible for Duke Energy’s Neighborhood Energy Saver Program.

Those who qualify for this program in Robbinsville and surrounding areas could receive up to 16 energy-saving improvements, which could save to up to $95 a year in energy costs.  These improvements are at no out-of-pocket cost.

Read more about the Duke Energy Saving Program.

Dementia Friends USA

The work of the Area Agency on Aging encompasses various topics that affect our older adults and their caregivers.  One area that has been a focus of the AAA has been dementia sensitivity training, primarily offered for those who provide care for older adults who might be suffering from dementia, including family members and extending all the way to Emergency Medial Services personnel.

Along the same line as the work of the AAA, a group called Dementia Friends USA has started a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia.  The Dementia Friends initiative is helping to make a difference for people touched by dementia by helping everyone in a community understand what dementia is and what effects it can have on a person.

To read more about this initiative, please visit the Dementia Friends USA website, and be sure to watch the video to learn more about this important work and what we can all do in our own communities to help those who are living with dementia.  And feel free to contact the Area Agency on Aging to learn how you can get involved as well!

Cindalynn’s Success Story

Cindalynn Hatton was enrolled as a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth program participant at the Haywood Community Learning Center (HCLC) in Waynesville, NC. The Center is not a school but an alternative out of school program with a focus on WIA case management of the participants. The Center is partially supported through WIA funding provided by the Southwestern Commission’s Southwestern Workforce Development Board.

Cindalynn had a baby as a teen, and she was receiving no guidance or assistance from anyone. When her baby was six-months-old, she dropped out of the Haywood Early College program in order to work full-time to support her family. At that time, she met with the staff of the HCLC, who enrolled her in WIA case management. There, her basic and educational needs were assessed, and she was able to attend classes on a flexible schedule that was customized for her busy schedule. Cindalynn graduated from the learning center in June 2012, and she later graduated from Haywood Community College in in May 2015. This May, she will be graduating from Western Carolina University with a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology. She was accepted to the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, where she plans to continue her education and eventually become a pharmacist.

The success of the Center is related to the availability of wrap-around services provided through many partners (faith-based, CBO, school systems, WIA, etc.,) and the flexibility and access to academic learning. The program is customized to each student and his or her barriers, rather than forcing the student to customize their schedule to the program. This increases the chances of the student successfully completing the program with a high school diploma and then continuing their education, entering the military, or gaining employment. This story is an excellent reminder that when you match the right person with the right program and staff, anything is possible.

For more information on Cindalynn’s story and the HCLC, click here to read the article in The Mountaineer.

Upcoming Community Workshop

Registration is open for the May 18 learning workshop led by Dr. Vaughn Grisham.  Dr. Grisham is a leading community development expert who has done work in more than 30 states and two Canadian provinces.  The workshop is scheduled from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM at the Hinton Center in Hayesville, NC.

This workshop will be a tremendous opportunity for community leaders in Region A to learn from a renown expert who has helped small communities accomplish amazing things!  Registration for this event is $10, and lunch is provided!

Click here to register for this workshop.

PBS documentary, “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts”

In case you missed it, you can view the full episode of the powerful PBS documentary, Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts – an urgent wake-up call about the national threat posed by Alzheimer’s disease. Many know the unique tragedy of this disease, but few know that Alzheimer’s is one of the most critical public health crises facing America.