Press release from Land of Sky Regional Council
The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) has conferred three National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Awards to Land of Sky Regional Council for the following projects: Bridging the Digital Divide – A Western North Carolina Digital Inclusion Plan, Livable Appalachia Summit, and Tunnel Road Corridor Study.
“Each year, through its awards program, NADO recognizes member organizations that demonstrate valuable and effective approaches to regional economic and community development. Since 1986, The Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Awards (formerly known as the Innovation Awards), have recognized nearly 2,000 NADO member projects for their creative efforts in advancing regional economic development and improved quality of life. The breadth and scope of the winning projects is impressive and far-reaching and illustrate the important role NADO members have in supporting regional development. Previous award-winning projects have showcased efforts in multiple program areas including business and economic development, community health initiatives, emergency planning, brownfields, sustainability, technology, transportation, workforce development, and more.”
Bridging the Digital Divide – A Western North Carolina Digital Inclusion Plan
The Bridging the Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Plan is a comprehensive plan to increase and diversify broadband access in the Land of Sky region of North Carolina. Recognizing that many in the region were either unable to afford broadband service, lacked access to a device, or did not have the skills to connect to broadband, Land of Sky Regional Council enacted a formal planning process to create the plan. The process included a large regional forum, in-depth focus group meetings, and stakeholder engagement across the region. Achievements thus far, funded by over $2 million dollars acquired by planners, include the development of six laptop and hot spot lending pilots, instillation of free Wi-Fi in 10 community centers, three downtown Wi-Fi access points, and the provision of devices to individuals pursuing education who are coming out of the prison system or in recovery programs. Land of Sky Regional Council is now also working to help four other neighboring Councils of Governments with their own digital inclusion plans.
Livable Appalachia Summit
The Livable Appalachia Summit was a free four-part series of virtual presentations and discussions to develop communities in the Land of Sky region to vibrantly support aging safely, affordably, and well. Staff from Land of Sky Regional Council actively participated on the planning committee and presented as well as moderated events and facilitated discussions. More than four hundred people attended the sessions which informed communities on how to improve quality of life in transportation, housing, broadband and economic growth. Topics covered touched not only on the older adult population but also folks of all ages, improving quality of life for all. The Council collaborated with multiple agencies across three states in the Central Appalachia region to bring the Summit to life, and now plans to add another discussion focused around rural health based on feedback from the event.
Tunnel Road Corridor Study
The Tunnel Road Corridor Study helps provide an overview of potential improvements to an area along Tunnel and South Tunnel Roads in East Asheville. This corridor is currently experiencing increased vacancies of commercial parcels and has been identified in the City of Asheville’s Comprehensive Plan as an area needing to be redeveloped with more urban amenities. The MPO Corridor study helps to make those opportunities more clear by illustrating changes to the roadway that would allow for safer multimodal transportation and connectivity that would help alleviate areas of congestion and build a more connected and livable area along the corridor. The French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)/Land of Sky Regional Council provided 80% of the funding for the study through the MPO’s metropolitan planning funds and managed the consultant team on the study.
To learn more about the 2022 Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award and Transportation Excellence Award Winners visit Congratulations to the 2022 NADO Impact Award Recipients – NADO and 2022 NADO Awards (arcgis.com)