The broadcast will also air on the NC Channel on June 27th at 9pm and will on June 30th at 2pm.

The ncIMPACT Initiative at the UNC School of Government partnered with Western Carolina University, Mountain Biz Works, UNC-TV, and Civic Federal Credit Union to highlight efforts in Southwestern NC to leverage natural resources for economic development. The broadcast will offer a great way to help leaders in other regions of our state better understand the outdoor economy in Southwestern NC by covering the economic impact of outdoor recreation, stewardship of natural resources, and strategies to stimulate the outdoor economy.

“The outdoor economy refers to the money that is made and spent around activities that take place in nature.”

Panelists for the ncIMPACT Town Hall at Western Carolina University include:

  • Jeremy Hyatt, Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians
  • Barry Jones, U.S. Forest Service
  • Lisa Leatherman, Duke Energy
  • Cory McCall, Outdoor 76
  • Arthur Salido, Western Carolina University
  • Sarah Thompson, Southwestern Commission

“People underestimate the size and scale of the industry,” according to panelist Arthur Salido, executive director for community and economic engagement and innovation at Western Carolina University. “[F]or hundreds of years Western North Carolina was the playground for the Southeast…now it’s really a national and international destination.”

Read more from Blue Ridge Outdoors:

“Outfitters have sprouted from the pastoral banks of the North Fork to urban stretches of the French Broad. Mountain communities are reinventing themselves to attract hikers, mountain bikers, and climbers. Revamped downtowns across the region are complete with microbreweries and Airbnbs. And the region’s national forests and state parks are being reimagined not just as weekend getaways but as economic support systems for small towns and entire states alike…A recent report by the Outdoor Alliance found that the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests—just two of more than ten national forests across the larger Appalachian region—host 4.6 million visitors annually and plug $115 million into local economies each year.”

These ongoing statewide ncIMPACT Town Hall events enhance the weekly ncIMPACT series. Just as we take ncIMPACT into communities, tackling problems head on by meeting with bold, positive change agents, the ncIMPACT town halls serve as a convening for a region’s residents, businesses, non-profits and government organizations to share their stories, ideas and solutions.

ncIMPACT is designed to get North Carolinians excited about these opportunities for creating positive change in their communities and in North Carolina. In addition to over-the-air broadcasts, explore ncIMPACT online anytime at The site features individual episodes, segments and web extras.