The leadership of the Cashiers Area Chamber met on January 19th for its annual strategic planning session. Directors established high priority issues for Chamber focus in 2017 including pedestrian mobility and safety, workforce development (recruitment, training and retention), infrastructure expansion (particularly broadband connectivity) and community development.

Participants were: Justin Allman of FireMoss Pottery, Tony Austin of Lake Toxaway Company, Chris Conner of Cullasaja Club, Stephanie Edwards of the Chamber, Malice Grant of Sounds Essential, Mary Lanning of Hampton Inn & Suites, Eli Ramirez of the Chamber, Justin Souma of Benjamin F. Edwards, Rick Stargel of Sapphire Valley Development, Ken Taft of Landmark Realty Group, Glenn Ubertino of Zoller Hardware, Directors unable to attend but serving on the Chamber’s 2017 board include: Ken Fernandez of Old Cashiers Realty, Debby Hattler of Hattler Properties (who serves as Treasurer), Will Madden of Entegra Bank, Natalia Tretiakov of The Corner Toy Store and Linda Wood of Church of the Good Shepherd.

“The 2017 Board has affirmed its commitment to a clearly defined set of established goals. Our central focus for this year is ensuring we play our part in "moving the needle" on these issues,” explained Malice Grant, President of the Board. “Our aim is to find a way of addressing challenges that may have stood in the way of responsible economic growth and mindful business development in the community. We look forward to engaging in collaborative work with community partners and helping to find new or innovative approaches to address persistent concerns or problems,” she said.

Chamber Executive Director Stephanie Edwards reviewed the planning discipline and laid out the environmental context for the group’s discussion through a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). She challenged board members to view Cashiers Area communities with a fresh, broad perspective and to consider what will be their own personal leadership legacy.

Edwards also reminded the group that the chamber is not the building or staff but rather the members themselves. In promoting volunteerism, she encouraged directors to ask “if not us, then who?” “We each have the opportunity to make a positive difference in the quality of life of those who live, work and play here on the Plateau,” she said.

Director Rick Stargel briefed colleagues on efforts to date to address a growing village core pedestrian mobility and safety concern which involves both state transportation and county official involvement. The issue includes not only traditional sidewalks, but also crosswalks and the existing pathways system.

Mary Lanning and Chris Conner supported focus on workforce development to ensure a sufficient labor supply to the hospitality, club and business sectors. They will lead efforts to explore effective ways to recruit and retain qualified workers and provide housing opportunities for year-round employment.

An extended discussion took place about the critical need for infrastructure expansion that included water resources, wastewater treatment and broadband connectivity. It was agreed that concerted efforts should be made to address “last mile” obstacles to delivery of high-speed internet which drives economic development.

Chris Conner mentioned the case of a radiologist considering moving to the Plateau but who ultimately purchased a second home elsewhere because of insufficient technology infrastructure for working remotely. The board will work with other stakeholders to leverage the existing fibre optic ring around Cashiers which represents a unique and valuable connectivity opportunity.

Justin Allman and Justin Souma shared a community development project with the group that would promote Sunday retail and pedestrian activity around the Crossroads. The Board will consider a more detailed proposal in the near future.

As a group exercise, directors identified community stakeholders for partnership and also possible projects and activities in support of the Chamber’s Core Purpose that it may sponsor in the coming year.

Special guest Ann Self, Executive Director of The Village Green, who is the Chamber’s appointment to the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority (JCTDA) presented an update on TDA activities and plans for the coming year. In partnership with the Chamber, The Village Green and Zoller’s Hardware unveiled branded solar eclipse glasses in preparation for the August 21, 2017 phenomenon. Mary Lanning, of the Chamber Board, also serves as Vice Chair of the JCTDA and Edwards serves as an ex-officio member of that board.

The Chamber’s Core Purpose is to “Provide extraordinary Leadership in the Cashiers Area as an Advocate for business, Information Source for the community, and Conduit for building destination awareness and responsible growth.”   Past initiatives have included tourism marketing and management, Cashiers Area Visitor Guide & Membership Directory (90K copies distributed since 2014), Cashiers Area Shopping & Dining Guide (25K since 2015), (comprehensive online community calendar), Crossroads banner stand, Cashiers wayfinding signage, Spirit of Our Community Awards, Cashiers pathways system, Business After Hours Showcase & Networking Receptions, Red Ribbon new business celebrations, History of Success and Success Sweepstakes campaigns to recognize small business achievements, annual Cashiers Christmas Parade, training seminars and collaborative support for other civic organizations (Glenville Initiative Group, Village Green, Village Conservancy). 

For more information, visit or call 828-743-5191.

Public Announcment:

Dear Chamber Member: We are pleased to share the following news from the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority and the Southwestern Commission Regional Planning Organization:


LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITY:  Your personal participation is needed to represent an industry critical to Cashiers Area economic growth. There are two open South Jackson County board positions on the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority.  Industry representatives qualify as board member candidates if they represent a “Lodging Property in South Jackson County with 10 or more rooms (proposed)” OR a “Home Rental/Condo/Timeshare/Vehicular Campsite (if they collect tax).”  They must also be voting residents and/or taxpayers of the County OR employees of a Jackson County business that collects Jackson County Occupancy Tax or pays Jackson County Property Tax.

Board member responsibilities include monthly meeting attendance and strategic decisionmaking leadership in the County’s destination marketing efforts.  Funds for JCTDA activities are generated by the overnight occupancy taxes remitted by accommodations.  The FY2016-2017 budget was more than $950,000 and includes advertising, public relations, social media, visitor center operations and more. 

Please indicate your interest and willingness to serve in this important tourism industry role to Stephanie Edwards, Executive Director, Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce/Jackson County Visitor Center at Cashiers at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 828-7435191.  Nominations will be submitted in the near future to JCTDA Board and then to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners for official appointment.


FUNDING OPPORTUNITY/TOURISM:  The 2017-2018 JCTDA grant process is now open!  Communities, non-profit organizations and county municipalities may submit the application form online: or download a PDF version at:  Deadline for submission is April 1, 2017 and any monies awarded will be available after June 30th.  See more details online at the link above.  Please share this information with other tourism industry stakeholders. 


FUNDING OPPORTUNITY/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:  The Southwestern Commission is accepting grant applications for up to $10,000 to support community-based efforts to adapt and implement tools from the 2014 Opt-In Regional Visioning Final Report (available at  The Opt-In Implementation Fund, funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission, offers a mini-grant program to local governments and 501(c)3 non-profit organizations.  Grants must meet ARC-match requirements and support ARC strategic plan goals and state strategy. Deadline for submission is March 3rd. 

We encourage your involvement in these opportunity and hope you will find this helpful. 

Thank you for your interest.

Apply Now! 2017 Jackson County Tourism Grants

Sapphire Wildlife Days/2016 Grant Recipient

Jackson County Tourism Development Authority announces 2017-2018 grants available

County Funds Support Events and Activities to Drive Tourism, Economic Development


JACKSON COUNTY, NC (January 20, 2017) – The Jackson County Tourism Development Authority is now accepting grant applications for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.


TDA grants are used to assist with advertising events and projects that generate overnight visits and increase tourism along with enhancing visitors’ experiences to Jackson County. Funding comes from occupancy tax collected in Jackson County that is reinvested in the local communities through the grant program.


Applications must be received by April 1 for consideration in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. Copies of grant applications, guidelines and submission details are available at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce located at 773 West Main Street in Sylva and the Cashiers Area Chamber at 202 US-64 in Cashiers.


“We have given more than $90,000 to our partners for advertising and spreading the word about local events,” said TDA Executive Director Nick Breedlove. “These grants were created to support the community and to encourage visitation to the area through our one-of-a-kind events, so we want to encourage our partners to apply for these grants to take advantage of the funding.”


Applications must be received by April 1 for consideration in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget. Copies of grant applications, guidelines and submission details are available at the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 773 West Main Street in Sylva and the Cashiers Area Chamber at 202 US-64 in Cashiers. New this year, applicants can complete the form online: Applicants can also download a PDF of the form at:


Last year, the TDA awarded grants to the WNC Pottery Festival, Smoky Mountain Quilters Guild, Mountain Heritage Day, Mountain Wildlife Days, GCAMA’s annual Leaf festival, Cashiers Rotary Fall Arts & Crafts Show, Greening up the Mountains, Front Streets Arts and Crafts Festival, Dillsboro Lights and Luminaries, Color Fest and the Summer Arts and Crafts Market.

Breedlove will assist groups with inquiries about the grant process, application and submission guidelines. For more information, contact him at 828-848-8711 or by e-mail Nick Breedlove This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


About Jackson County, NC

Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva, Balsam, Cullowhee, Glenville and Sapphire are the distinct locales that make up Western North Carolina's Jackson County. Each of these Blue Ridge Mountain towns provide natural beauty that invites visitors to experience the North Carolina Mountains. Jackson County is also home to the nation’s first and only fly fishing trail, The Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail. The majestic mountains harbor miles of hiking trails and waterfalls while charming downtowns are known for shopping, dining, culture, and hometown atmosphere.  For more information visit, 



For additional information, please contact:

Alexa Lampasona

Pineapple Public Relations


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