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The Origins of the WNC Vitality Index

The Mountain Resources Commission (MRC), a non-regulatory organization established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2009, identified the need to provide local governments with easy-to-understand data specific to the western region of the state in order to encourage more informed decisions with regard to resource use and community planning, and to help the general public understand linkages that may not be readily apparent. They established a partnership with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, and the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) at the University of North Carolina at Asheville to provide such information, incorporating metrics that describe the natural, built, human, and cultural environments that are unique to the western region.

The result is the Western North Carolina Vitality Index, a web-based product that is easy to use and free of charge, and that allows users to see either a regional picture or focus on a particular county’s vitality status on a wide variety of issues.

After the initial launch of the WNC Vitality Index in October 2012, the MRC attracted new partners to help expand its content, including partnerships with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR), Duke Energy, the Asheville Board of REALTORS®, and Communities Transforming. Expansion of the group of supporting partners is ongoing.