≡ Menu

NC Step: Community-led Economic Development & Strategic Plan for the Town of Murphy

In May 2012, the Town of Murphy received a grant from the NC Rural Economic Development Center. The Cherokee County Arts Council is the “community partner” with the Town of Murphy for this grant, and is helping to develop our community leadership team. Here is a little background information about the program:

The N.C. Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program, or NC STEP, was launched in spring 2006 as the centerpiece of the Small Towns Initiative. While the initiative addresses broad issues affecting the growth and development of small towns, NC STEP focuses in on how to help individual small towns reinvigorate their economies. It has three primary goals:

1) Support economic development in small towns adversely affected by structural changes in the economy or recent natural disasters.

2) Implement a comprehensive model of technical assistance and grantmaking to aid in revitalization efforts.

3) Provide information vital to the development of public policies that support long-term investment in the economic vitality of North Carolina’s small towns.
(For more information see below the Agenda and Kick-off explanation)

Summary of the NC STEP Planning Process

Introduction. The purpose of this document is to outline the planning process, step by step, in order to make sure we are always on the same page. Although the process will be basically the same for all of the towns in the NC STEP program, some variation may develop as we move through the process. This process has been proven to be effective for small town economic development planning.

Background. The North Carolina Small Towns Economic Prosperity (NC STEP) Program has three primary goals: 1) to support economic recovery and revitalization in small towns adversely affected by structural changes in the economy or recent natural disasters; 2) to build capacity at the local level by developing inclusive community leadership teams; and 3) to provide information vital to the development of public policies that support long-term investment in the economic vitality of North Carolina’s small towns.

Planning Sequence. Our objective is to define economic development strategies and projects and then to begin implementation of the strategies. The first several meetings will be devoted to understanding your town, including where it fits in the county and regional economy, positive and negative characteristics that will influence growth, and your vision for the town 10 to 20 years into the future.

Then we will have a series of meetings to define economic development strategies, define projects to begin implementation of the strategies and produce a plan for implementation. The completed plan will be presented to your Town Board and to the NC STEP program staff at the Rural Center. The planning steps are outlined briefly below. Some will be accomplished in one meeting, while others will take two or more. In addition, as is the case with your Kick-off event planning, some work can be done by subcommittees.

1. Define leadership group and its mission.
2. Involve public through Kick-off event.
3. Develop vision of economy and town 10 to 20 years in the future.
4. Complete community profile.
5. Discuss economy and demographics of town and county.
6. Identify community assets and limiting factors for economic development.
7. Identify strategies for economic development.
8. Set up strategy subcommittees to propose projects to implement strategies.
9. Review proposed projects and prioritize a list for implementation.
10. Develop implementation plan.
11. Present proposed economic development plan to Town Board.
12. Submit plan to NC STEP staff at Rural Center and enter into contract.
13. Begin implementation.
14. At the end of the first implementation year review progress and fine tune plan.

Step Meeting- 10/23/12 5:35pm-7:30pm
Economic Developers Panel

Welcome and brief introduction- Smithson Mills

Brief Announcements:
• Golden Leaf begins on Nov 20th
• Kickoff party update

Panel presentations:

• Josh Carpenter; Economic Development Director, Cherokee County
o Two main tasks are job creation and supporting existing jobs; that is done through supporting infrastructure and workforce needs. Have many community partners in order to do this.

• Ryan Sherby; Regional Planner, Southwest Commission
o Essentially an extension of local government. Reacts to local problems and services tied to economic development.
o There is a Workforce Development Board for Cherokee County
o Citizen action such as we have is very important and we need to keep the momentum going even past the STEP program

• Emily Breedlove; Entrepreneurship Program Manager, Advantage West
o Handout is attached

• Jennifer Hogsed; Western Regional Representative, NC Dept. of Commerce
o Visit your local manufacturers and do your own needs assessment
o Deals with energy, the courts, policy, international liaison, building services and infrastructure

• Larry Kernea; General Manager, Murphy Electric Power Board
o Job creation is going to lag a bit until small businesses feel certain that they can employ someone
o Murphy Power mission is to supply low-cost and reliable electricity

• Smithson: take-aways are:
o concentric rings spreading out from Murphy and the complimentary roles for each organization to take
o Emphasis is on relationships and working together

Question and Answer period:

Q: When is high speed and reliable cell phone and internet access going to come to the area?
A: We have to really sell ourselves to the phone and internet companies and put public money on the table. We start with downtown hubs and spread out from there.

Q: (for each panel member): How does what you do specifically impact Murphy or Cherokee Co directly?
A: Larry: “Celebrate Cherokee County” sections in the newspaper help us tell our collective story
Josh: Business and Innovation Resource Rallies
Ryan: Fain Mountain watershed easement purchase; wastewater plant and sewer projects
Jennifer: relationships between students and businesses for employment
Emily: rotate board meetings so they can learn more about each small community in outlying areas

Q: How are you helping small business?
A: We define small as 10 employees or less. Through Tri-County Business Center and their partnerships: link small businesses with the organization who can help them the most
Also, if you want to add staff there are subsidized loans for 6-9 months

Q: What are you doing on the tourism front?
A: Chamber of Commerce: Don’t do national advertising but sometimes do regional ads; print budget used to be $28,000 and are moving to online sources now.
Realtors do a lot of advertising
Advantage West has a marketing co-op but marketing money is hard to come by

Q: What are the programs that recruit and keep business here?
A: Usually they are federally funded and require a local match grant. CDVA= Community Development Block Grants as well as “incentives grants”

Q: What are the programs to retain businesses?
A: SBEA and the Rural Center have various grants and loans; they can also help you reduce the cost to operate your business. Unfortunately it’s hard to find the struggling businesses because they’re so focused on their work they may not be taking advantage of various opportunities—in addition, there is more funding for recruiting business than retaining it

Q: Is there a plan for Cherokee County—what’s the goal?
A: That is the purpose of STEP and what we’re doing at our meetings; this community can shape our own goals

Next Meeting: UMC Fellowship Hall 5:30pm Tuesday, November 27th