More than $600,000 in economic development dollars will be going to local organizations aiming to grow small businesses, attract new industry, drum up tourism, and more. The funding was approved by the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners during its meeting on July 19. Some examples of the economic development projects include:
- $17,500 for Carolina Small Business Development Fund: To support small businesses through one-on-one coaching and workshops tailored to the needs of local entrepreneurs through the Western Women’s Business Center.
- $52,000 for Mountain BizWorks: To grow diverse small businesses and jobs in Buncombe County through an Opportunity Entrepreneur in Residence program.
- $47,500 for CityWorks USA: To support small businesses through a business incubator program with a mission to help people turn their ideas into reality and build a supportive community for local Black entrepreneurs to scale their business by assisting them to secure state incorporation, providing financial literacy coaching, and connecting them with partners for business opportunities.
For a complete list of economic development projects, click here.
July is Parks & Recreation Month
Buncombe County is proud of its Recreation Services parks, services, and programs. July is Parks & Recreation Month, and Commissioners are marking the occasion with an official proclamation. It reads in part: “Through events like the Lake Julian Park campout and kids’ fishing events, parks and recreation promote time spent in nature, which positively impacts mental health and well-being. Parks and Recreation encourage physical activities by providing space for popular sports, hiking trails, swimming pools, greenways, and many other activities designed to promote active lifestyles.” You can read the entire proclamation here. To learn more about how you can enjoy free and cheap activities at County parks, click here.
Grants for emergency watershed protection, streamflow rehabilitation, and Tropical Storm Fred best practices
Commissioners approved accepting three grants totaling nearly $3.3 million that will help combat future effects of natural disasters. The County’s Ag and Land Resources Department has been awarded $2.2 million by the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. In addition to the federal funding, the state’s Division of Soil and Water Conservation is chipping in $738,513 for the efforts to stabilize streambanks, clear debris for waterways, and other projects aimed at reducing flooding.
A second grant is being awarded by the State Division of Soil and Water to the tune of $336,649. It is part of the Streamflow Rehabilitation Assistance Program for projects that decrease the potential for property damage stemming from flooding by protecting and restoring the integrity of drainage infrastructure by removing vegetative debris from our local waterways.
Finally, the NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation is awarding the County $7,916 to implement best management practices for farms and homes affected by Tropical Storm Fred last year.
No County funding is required for any of the three grants.
Enterprise fund for the Sheriff’s Office Real-Time Intelligence Center
The Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office Real-Time Intelligence Center (RITC) helps keeps schools safe, provides investigative assistance, and allows law enforcement to have real-time information while responding to incidents. The first of its kind in Western North Carolina, the RITC was created exclusively using forfeiture funding. Commissioners approved creating an enterprise fund for the RITC which will allow it to continue existing operations while expanding without using taxpayer dollars by selling services to the public. For additional information, click here.
Child Fatality Prevention Team/Community Child Protection Team annual report
In 2020, Buncombe County had 21 child fatalities (including 16 infants). In order to help prevent future tragedies, the Community Child Protection Team and the Child Fatality Team work to understand the causes of childhood deaths and find ways to address abuse, identify service delivery gaps, and provide recommendations to prevent child abuse, neglect, and death. Causes of death range from accidents, homicide, illness, birth defects, and more.
The task forces are recommending multiple responses in regard to identified systemic problems leading to child deaths. Some recommendations include:
- Requiring the Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater training for law enforcement, school systems, courts, and others.
- Review best practices for messaging safe sleeping conditions.
- Foster partnerships to share information on the growing issue of child suicide.
Commissioners were not asked to vote on any recommendations but did appoint members to the CFPT/CCPT. Commissioners appointed:
- Sgt. Caleb Hunter as the law enforcement officer
- Chanel Young as the Helpmate representative
Moving forward, the Sheriff’s Office will appoint the law enforcement officer representative for CFPT/CCPT. To learn more about those proposals click here, and to read the 2021 annual report, click here.
Staak Drive rezoning request
Commissioners approved rezoning a 4.46-acre parcel of land from R-1 (Residential District) to NS (Neighborhood Service District). The land is located at 19 Staak Drive and the County’s Planning Board unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning which will allow for multifamily and mixed-use development in the area. You can read County staff’s analysis of the rezoned property here.
Budget amendment for FY21 solar projects
Commissioners approved an additional $621,948 for FY21 solar projects to adjust for the increased costs of raw materials, shipping, and supply shortages. It is anticipated that utility rebates will cover extra costs, but the County is not eligible for those until the projects are complete. You can view the budget amendment here.
Land of Sky Regional Council update
The Land of Sky Regional Council is a partnership with Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania counties with a mission of providing creative regional solutions to relevant and emerging issues. The agency utilizes more than 50 state, federal, and foundational grants to work on issues such as community development, transportation planning, and economic development. Land of Sky Executive Director Nathan Ramsey gave Commissioners an update on the organization’s recent work highlighting projects that integrate recovery in the workplace, an employer-led workforce initiative, and more. You can view the entire presentation here.