Black Mountain selected for CORE program

Karrigan Monk
Black Mountain News
Black Mountain has been selected for the North Carolina Department of Commerce's CORE program to help bolster the outdoor recreation economy.

Black Mountain has been selected as one of 34 North Carolina governments to participate in a program called Creating Outdoor Recreation Economies from the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

According to a news release, “the CORE program offers strategic planning and technical assistance to help rural communities leverage North Carolina’s abundant outdoor recreation assets to bolster local economic vitality.”

Ann Bass, a community economic development planner for the state Department of Commerce, said the goal of the program is to help chosen governments with their outdoor recreation economy.

“What we want to do is work with communities to explore the whole idea of the expanded outdoor recreation economy,” Bass said. “There are many different aspects of it, and it’s not just the tourism and visitor experience, but we also look at the small businesses that serve outdoor recreation.”

Bass said Black Mountain already has a lot of “momentum” going into the program with projects such as the greenway and recently acquired land. She said the town has a “very engaged population” and is looking forward to working with the town.

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“Black Mountain is already a powerhouse in looking at the many assets that they’ve got,” Bass said. “There is a wonderful, vibrant, creative environment in the community, and they have all sorts of activity going on.”

Black Mountain Planning Director Jessica Trotman said the town initially decided to apply for the program to help with a parcel of land between a railroad and I-40 that is deed-restricted in that it must be a park.

Trotman said the application process was “straightforward” in that she provided data on the types of businesses and resources in the town, as well as potential opportunities for growth.

“We really need to be having a thoughtful process of how these opportunities can be designed to meet as many needs as possible,” Trotman said. “Economic development is something, of course, the town has an interest in seeing continue to develop and grow.”

The CORE program is not a financial grant, but instead technical assistance for the local governments to help them find ways to bolster the outdoor recreation sector of the economy. This means community engagement in the form of public meetings, collecting data, doing research and developing recommendations for the town.

Trotman said she expects the process to start in the spring and end in late summer.

“I think that Black Mountain is just uniquely positioned to look at economic development very carefully and imagine how we can secure our success well into the future,” Trotman said. “We’re in a wonderful position right now and we want to make sure that it’s stable and it’s something that is continuing.”