Mountain West CREATE BRIDGES Initiative Sets Final Strategy Session

— Written By Becky Bowen
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The NC Mountain West Region, consisting of Jackson, Swain, Graham, and Macon Counties, and the Qualla Boundary, continues its participation in the CREATE BRIDGES initiative. Facilitated by a research and coaching team from NC State University, the CREATE BRIDGES initiative is intended to strengthen the retail, accommodation, tourism, and entertainment sectors (the CREATE sectors) in the region.

The CREATE BRIDGES initiative hit several milestones over the last year and is expected to hit several more before it concludes in late 2022. From September 2020 to now the CREATE BRIDGES Regional Steering Committee, co-chaired by Russ Harris of the Southwestern Commission and Rich Price of Western Carolina University, has guided the strategic planning process through several key activities including an organizational and asset-mapping phase and a research phase involving surveys and interviews of local CREATE businesses and employees. This research culminated in the CREATE Academy on September 22, a virtual gathering of regional stakeholders.

At the CREATE Academy attendees heard feedback from both businesses and employees working in the CREATE sectors. Over the summer, data on both employer and employee needs was collected and analyzed, and published  in the 2021 CREATE BRIDGES annual report. The results of this research provides the foundation from which solutions will be developed to address the needs of both businesses and employees in the CREATE sectors.

In October 2021 a strategy session was held with regional stakeholders. This session focused on business needs. In November 2021 a second strategy session was held and targeted solutions for employee needs. The final and third strategy session is scheduled for January 26 and will focus on how the community itself can support a regional economy built on the CREATE sector businesses.

Register here for the January 26 CREATE BRIDGES strategy workshop.

If you have questions please contact the CREATE BRIDGES Project Manager, Becky Bowen, at