A flaw in the economic model that calculates tourism impact in the mountains has been uncovered, resulting in a major adjustment to tourism spending in Jackson and Swain counties.
Every year, the N.C. Department of Commerce releases the economic impact of tourism by county. For years, Swain was heads and shoulders above Jackson. But not anymore.
Folkmoot USA had a $9.2 million impact on Western North Carolina in 2013, according to an economic impact study conducted by Tom Tveidt of SYNEVA Economics.
The study included the Western North Carolina region but focused on Haywood County, showing that Folkmoot’s overnight visitors spent $6.6 million during their visit. Outside day-trippers spent an additional $89,000 in Haywood County.
Only overnight and outside day-trip visitors were included in Folkmoot’s study.
The summer is shaping into a pretty good rafting season for Tee Davis.
“It’s awesome, man,” said Davis, owner of Smoky Mountain Adventures.
Much better than last summer, anyway. Last year, rains wreaked havoc on the rafting season.
“Night and day,” Davis said. “It helps when the river’s not out of its banks.”
Randy Best was a rare bird in the development heyday of the 2000s. Where others just saw dollar signs, Best actually saw land.
“I would spend a month walking a piece of property after we bought it. I walked every inch and when I was done, I knew where every house site was going to be, where every septic was going to be, how the roads would lay,” said Best, a Haywood County native.
In a region still reeling from damaged land and dented lives in the wake of the real estate boom and bust, signs of salvation are few and far between. But here’s one for the history books.
Twice in the past year, Haywood County has used a little-known clause of financial legalese to hold developers’ feet to the fire after they walked away mid-stream. It’s a minuscule but unprecedented victory in a rocky world of marred up mountains and abandoned developments.
The rapid pace of change these days often leaves many of us feeling helpless in its wake. Things change, then change some more, and finally a transformation so complete has taken place that very little of what we started with is familiar.
Think the music industry, or what the phone in your pocket will do. Crazy stuff.
But every now and again, one can look around and note things that haven’t changed that much. In some cases that is very reassuring; other times it’s scary.
Fire, smoke, and efforts to make more of both fill the event pavilion at Haywood County Fair Grounds on a chilly May morning that feels more like early March. The Dutch oven class gathers around a fire in the right corner of the open-walled building, the blacksmiths get ready for their afternoon class in the far end and a cotton ball flames placidly atop the green metal case that Doug Knight is using to hold flint rocks for his fire-starting class. Class is in full swing, but nobody is paying the burning cotton any mind. They’re all too busy trying to ignite nests of frayed rope and char cloth with hard-won sparks from flint and steel.
It’s harder than it looks.
Jackson County retained its status as one of the economically distressed counties in North Carolina according to just-released rankings, but county manager Chuck Wooten thinks some of the factors in that ranking are improving and others are “distorted.”
From wedding planners to elk tour guides to non-profit organizations, the closing of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hasn’t only disrupted the livelihood of federal workers.
The park is home to a wide variety of outside enterprises working independently yet inextricably tied to it. In many ways, the federal impasse that caused the ongoing shutdown has hurt these operations more than the federal workers who have been furloughed.
The impasse at the federal level will touch all areas of operation at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, closing picnic areas, campgrounds, bathrooms, visitor centers and historic sites.