A team lead by TSW completed the first comprehensive plan for Graham County, North Carolina, one of the most rural counties in the state. The plan, known as the Gateway to Tomorrow Plan, was funded as part of the Southwestern North Carolina Opportunity Initiative (Opt-In), a regional planning effort also lead by TSW.
- The plan highlights strategies to grow the local economy after the closing of the county’s largest employer, improve health in an area with an aging population and little health care access, and build on the tourism base.
- A decades-long controversy over a highway proposal (Corridor K) was a key focus of the plan, including identifying potential corridors for transportation improvements that would protect the environment and sensitive Native American sites, but still provide access to health care and jobs.
- Plans for downtown Robbinsville, the county seat, show how to revitalize historic Main Street, improve aesthetics along the bypass, provide affordable housing, and create new parks and public spaces.
- Community involvement was an important tool for opening dialog and building consensus. Efforts included a week-long workshop, a community open house, email updates, and focus groups with youth, business owners, and other key groups.