Community and Economic Development

Dependable Water and Sewer. Safe Septic Systems. Affordable Housing. Job Creation. Workforce Training. A Diverse Economy.

Since 1965, the Southwestern Commission (SWC) has been dedicated to improving the quality of life and economy in our region. We achieve this through:

Regional Economic Development: Supporting growth and sustainability.

Short-Term Working Capital Financing: Providing crucial financial assistance.

Partnering on Regional Projects: Collaborating for impactful solutions.

Data and Demographics: Offering valuable insights for future planning.

Funding Sources:
We receive funding from agencies like the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). As an Economic Development District (EDD), we are eligible for EDA funding to drive regional growth. We also create a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) every few years to set and achieve regional goals, reporting our progress annually.

As one of 73 Local Development Districts (LDDs) under the ARC, we ensure effective use of funds and bolster local participation, focusing on the priority needs of our communities.

Our Partners:

ARC- Appalachian Regional Commission

NC Department of Commerce

EDA- Economic Development Administration

NCDOT- North Carolina Department of Transportation

USDA- United States Department of Agriculture

County Economic Developers

Smoky Mountain Host

The Cherokee Preservation Foundation

The Community Foundation

The Sequoyah Fund

Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy

The Southwestern Commission serves as the Economic Development District for the U.S. Economic Development Administration.  One of the functions that we carry out as part of that role is to create the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) for the region.  The plan is a 5-year plan, but updates are completed annually to reflect implementation and changes to the regional economy.  The plan, created by a variety of stakeholders from across the region, attempts to address critical issues that impact the region such as broadband access, housing, and access to capital.

2022 CEDS 4-Page Summary
2022 CEDS Full Report

Service Areas


The Southwestern Commission is driving digital inclusion and broadband expansion in Western North Carolina. Our 2022 Digital Inclusion Plans address the digital divide, equipping rural residents with essential access and skills. Explore our comprehensive plans, broadband profiles, and resources to see how we’re enhancing regional connectivity.

2022 Digital Inclusion Plans

2023 Broadband Profiles by County

Additional Broadband Resources


The Southwestern North Carolina HOME Consortium secures federal HOME funds to provide affordable housing and support low-income households across six counties. These funds, managed by the Southwestern Commission, cover new construction, rehabilitation, rental assistance, and more. Annual funds are awarded based on priority needs, with the next application cycle in Spring 2025.

HOME Consortium

Housing Specialist
LeNay Shular
828.586.1962 ex. 218
[email protected]


North Carolina will receive $1.5 billion from a national opioid settlement to support treatment, recovery, and harm reduction programs statewide. The Southwestern Commission, partnering with Ten Biz, Inc. and the Omni Institute, is crafting a strategic plan for the seven-county region, guided by public input from focus groups and surveys. This initiative, supported by Dogwood Health Trust, aims to effectively address the opioid crisis and foster positive change in Region A.

For more information on our process and results, CLICK HERE. 



The Community and Economic Development Department hosts a variety of programs and resources to support regional growth. Explore detailed information on our Directed Grants Program, Master List of Existing Plans, Disaster Recovery Financial Administration Training, Revolving Loan Fund and various data reports. Use the links below to dive into the resources that drive economic development in our region.

Directed Grants Resources

Master List of Existing Plans

Disaster Recovery Financial Administration Training

Revolving Loan Fund

Regional Data and Reports