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Foothills Regional Commission Newsletter
September 20th, 2021

Census Bureau Delivers 2020 Redistricting Data in Easier-to-Use Format 

On Thursday, the U.S. Census Bureau released the 2020 Census Redistricting Data (Public Law 94-171) Summary File to states and the public in an easier-to-use format. These data are now available on They are identical to those released Aug.12 on the Census Bureau’s FTP site and in various data visualizations. 


The Census Bureau has also delivered to states an easy-to-use toolkit of DVDs and flash drives with integrated browsing software to use in redrawing their congressional and state legislative district boundaries.

Topics in both formats include 2020 Census population counts by race, Hispanic origin, voting age and housing unit data for counties, places, census tracts and blocks.

Data users can now access redistricting data with demographic information for cities and towns without downloading the FTP files.

Read more here.

There is also a webinar and live demonstration on 2020 Census Redistricting Data and House to Find it on on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2-3 p.m. ET. Event participation info is available here.

AVL Business Inclusion Office Offering Outreach and Programming to Foothills Counties

Asheville’s Business Inclusion Office has developed a program for businesses to access resources to scale and work with government. This resource is aimed at businesses that are owned and/or operated by women and Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. The program was developed in response to a disparity study the city did in 2018, which highlighted disparities in contracting.

The program is available to business owners in the following counties: Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Rutherford, Haywood, Jackson, Transylvania, McDowell, Yancey, and Polk.

To learn more and apply, visit this link. Applications are due by Oct. 15. The program's first session is Nov. 16.

The Business Inclusion Office will hold hour-long informational sessions about this training program on Monday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m.; Thursday, Sept. 30 at 9 a.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 6 p.m. Interested participants can RSVP here to the session they would like to attend.

Questions can also be directed to

2021 DERA Request for Proposals to Open September 15th, 2021

The North Carolina Division of Air Quality will be accepting proposals to fund clean diesel projects beginning at 9 a.m. Sept. 15 through the NCDAQ’s Grant Management System. Approximately $861K is available for eligible projects through the Mobile Source Diesel Emission Reduction Grant program. The grants can be used to cover a wide range of projects including repowering non-road construction or agricultural equipment with cleaner burning engines, converting vehicles to run on alternative fuels and replacing older diesel vehicles or eligible equipment with new cleaner vehicles or equipment.  

Businesses and organizations from the public and private sector are eligible to apply. The division will prioritize funding for non-road equipment projects, but proposals for on-road and other eligible projects will be considered if funding is available.

Applications must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. Nov. 30 to be considered.  More information on eligible projects and application instructions is available here.

NCDAQ will host a Q&A session on Sept. 22 at 1 p.m. via WebEx to help with the application process for this year’s grant. Questions should be emailed ahead of time to so that DAQ staff can have adequate time to compile answers that may be useful to all applicants. More information and registration are available here.


Register for Digital Inclusion Workshops

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) has announced a new round of funding from BAND-NC, a grant program designed to meet digital needs and make North Carolina "first in digital inclusion".

IEI will host two virtual planning workshops for those interested in learning more about how to move forward with creating a digital inclusion plan in their community. These are the first two workshops of four planned workshops total.

  • Digital Inclusion 101 (register here) - Thursday, September 30 from 2 - 3:30 p.m. Special guest Jeremy Collins, director of the new Office of Digital Equity and Literacy at the N.C. Department of Information Technology, will join this webinar. (This session will be recorded.)
  • Introduction to Digital Inclusion Planning (register here) - Thursday, October 21 from 2 - 3:30 p.m. (This session will be recorded.)

ARC "Stories of Change" in Our Region

Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is highlighting the impact of its POWER initiative — which targets coal-impacted communities — by releasing an evaluation featuring "stories of change," which illustrate the results of this initiative on individuals, businesses, and communities.

Among the examples is Old Fort's Growing Outdoors, an outdoor gear manufacturing company that is bringing high-quality, high-skilled textile jobs to McDowell County.

Thanks to an ARC POWER Initiative grant, business strategies in the area were designed to grow the outdoor reactional gear manufacturing sector, serving 350 businesses and training 275 workers. Western North Carolina has a strong legacy of quality manufacturing, which is why companies like Growing Outdoors have decided to plant their roots there.

You can read ARC's Growing Outdoors story here and the full POWER Initiative evaluation here.

More Opportunities to Learn

The following training events and webinars are coming up:

  • Vacant, Abandoned and Deteriorated Property (VAD) Academy - Tuesday, Sept. 28. More information can be found here.
  • Leverage NC Webinars - Registration is available here. An archive of previous webinars is here. Upcoming events include:
    • Redeveloping Suburbs and Commercial Corridors - Fourth in a series. The previous three are available in the webinar archives.) Sept. 29th, 1 p.m.
    • Parks and Public Spaces - Oct. 13th, 10 a.m.
  • Rural Transportation Virtual Workshops
    • Website Builder 3.0 Webinar. Sept. 23, 2-3:30 p.m. Register and get more info here.
    • Rural and Small Urban Mobility Innovations Virtual Workshop. Sept. 20, 2-4 p.m. Register and get more info here.
    • Transportation Management Association (TMA) Workshop. Sept. 22, 3-4:30 p.m. Register and get more info here.

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111 West Court Street, Rutherfordton, NC 28139

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