Opt-In Southwestern NC Initiative is Off and Running
The Opportunity Initiative, or OPT-IN, is a year-long research and strategy-evaluation effort for economic development, transportation, and environmental research in North Carolina’s seven westernmost counties, the 16 municipalities within, and the Sovereign Nation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. The project is set to conclude in the summer of 2014 and is one of the most ambitious endeavors in the region’s history. TSW has been selected to lead a team of consultants for the initiative. The goal is to recognize opportunities and position the region, counties, towns, and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to make the most of them. The project name emphasizes that this is an invitation to collaborate and not a mandate.
The TSW consulting team, together with experts, will build on work already done in each of the local jurisdictions, collect additional data, and gather best practices requested by citizens and leaders. The team will facilitate discussions that test alternative approaches to long-range goals. Additional staff support will come from North Carolina’s Appalachian Regional Commission Program.
Throughout the process, the consultants will collaborate with citizens and leaders in the region. The team will work directly with individuals and small groups, building consensus for goals and strategies to test in community-wide sessions later on. Anyone who wishes to participate will have an opportunity to contribute their thoughts and ideas. They can do this through one-on-one conversations, group meetings, online forums, or by representing themselves in the project.
The OPT-IN project recognizes that collaboration is critical to the success of the initiative. It will provide an opportunity for citizens and leaders to work together towards a common goal of promoting economic growth, improving transportation, and safeguarding the environment.
For more information about the project and opportunities to participate, visit the project’s website.