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About the Mountain-West Region of North Carolina

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Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Graham counties are a contiguous region at the confluence of the Balsam, Nantahala, and Great Smoky ranges in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern North Carolina. The Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, is situated as portions of both Northern Jackson and Swain Counties. The four-county region is comprised of numerous small municipalities and villages that have long been appealing to tourists, outdoor enthusiasts, and second home buyers. The Town of Highlands and the Village of Cashiers are similar, high-elevation destinations on the southern escarpment of the region. The four county seats include the population centers of Sylva (Jackson), Franklin (Macon), Bryson City (Swain), and Robbinsville (Graham), with each offering unique appeal to the traveling public.

Within the Qualla Boundary is the town of Cherokee, the cultural and governmental center for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, which is long noted as a vacation destination for people from the Southeastern United States and beyond. Each county within the CREATE BRIDGES Mountain West NC region has additional retail and tourism destinations such as Dillsboro and the Nantahala River Gorge, both known for whitewater rafting and exceptional dining, shopping and lodging experiences. Known as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, this region finds itself in need of a collaborative and adaptive planning initiative to address challenges with workforce and retention, service training and engagement, and business scalability.