Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Swain County, NC
Jackson County Courthouse - Sylva, Jackson County, NC
Fly Fishing on Snowbird Creek - Graham County, NC
WNC Regional Livestock Center - Canton, Haywood County, NC
Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Hiking Near Clingman's Dome - Swain County, NC
Wayehutta "Worryhut" ATV Trail System - USFS Jackson County, NC
Topoco Lodge - Graham County, NC
Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts - Franklin,NC
Joyce Kilmer, Santeetlah Creek Area - Graham County, NC
Sequoyah National Golf Course - Cherokee, NC
Beginning with the industrial revolution and through the 1950s, economic development in western North Carolina was based on natural resources: timber, agriculture, mining, pulp and paper. In the 1950s the District’s economic growth shifted to low-wage, low-skill factory operators. Cut-and-sew textiles and furniture became dominant. Also, electronic products assembly gained a respectable percentage of the District’s gross product.
The middle of the last century also brought the first waves of middle class tourists and destination entertainment facilities such as Ghost Town, gem mining businesses and tourism related to the Eastern Band Cherokee Reservation. The end of the last century saw the growth of water, nature and heritage-based recreation businesses such as whitewater sports, mountain biking, and crafts promoted by Handmade in America and other professional craft organizations. At that same time there was a growth of high-end cast and machined metal products (e.g. shop tools and transmission gears).
This new century has ushered in changes. Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee is now the top entertainment draw in NC, and its establishment has resulted in the creation of more than 2,000 new jobs. The Casino’s ongoing $633 Million expansion has opened a 3000+ seat music venue and a Ruth’s Chris Steak House, with a noodle bar and a Tuscan Grille to be completed in the spring of 2012. Other expected amenities in 2012 include a 15,000 square foot Mandara Spa and a refurbished casino floor with 4,500 to 5,000 slot machines. Travel and tourism are the major drivers in the growth of the retail/services sector in the District, as well as in the state. Travel and tourism generate over $14 billion statewide and continue to grow albeit more slowly than before 2007. It is the largest industry in western North Carolina and is expected to be the largest state industry early in the 21st century. According to a joint study by Appalachian State University, Western Carolina University, and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, tourism has created over 46,000 tourism-related jobs in Western North Carolina since 1990. In the Smoky Mountain Host region (the EDD), tourism has generated over 7,400 jobs in the same period.
The most popular tourist destination in North Carolina is the Blue Ridge Parkway which travels through Jackson and Haywood Counties in the District. The eleventh most visited destination in the state is Harrah’s Casino in Cherokee and the thirteenth most popular destination is The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s visitation numbers for 2010 were around 9.5 million visitors, slightly down from 2009.
Public comment has expired for the 2012 plan.