The Isothermal Planning and Development Commission (Isothermal Regional Commission/The Commission) is the council of governments for the Isothermal Region which includes Cleveland, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford Counties in Western North Carolina. The membership of the Commission consists of the local governments within the Isothermal Region.

The Commission serves its members and their citizens by fostering regional collaboration and providing professional and technical expertise. The Commission houses the region’s Area Agency on AgingHousing Programs, Rural Planning Organization, Workforce Development Board and provides services through its Economic, Community and Workforce Development programs and Technical Assistance programs. For more information, check out our About page!

Department of Commerce Announces Job Retention Grant Program

If your business or non-profit organization experienced interruption due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the new Job Retention Grant (JRG) Program may be able to offer assistance.

To qualify to receive these grant funds, your organization:

Commerce is publishing answers to the most frequent questions about the program here, and you can also review the underlying law that authorizes the program. To learn more about the grant program, click here. To learn how IPDC can help you with this grant, please click here to contact Steve Lockett.

North Carolina Continues to Pause in Safer At Home Phase 2

August 7 – This week Governor Cooper announced that North Carolina will remain paused in Phase 2 Safer at Home for five more weeks. While some of North Carolina’s COVID-19 trends are stabilizing they do remain elevated. As schools go back into session, now is the time to double down on prevention measures like wearing a mask and social distancing.

“While we are seeing stabilization of our numbers, that doesn’t mean we can let up. We know this stability is fragile – and these trends can change quickly if we let down our guards,” said Governor Cooper. “Health experts say opening too much too quickly can lead to a devastating increase in cases, sickness and death. In addition, it can lead to having to go backward like other states.”

Governor Cooper noted the need for caution to avoid a resurgence of the virus and ensure the state not only continues to be stable, but starts to see a downward trend.

This week, Governor Cooper joined a bipartisan interstate compact with six other governors to increase availability of rapid testing. The compact demonstrates the need for a larger, national testing strategy and creates a way to collaborate on purchasing supplies. Read the Executive Order and the Press Release.

Isothermal Region receives Several Honors in the 2020 NCDOT Mobi Awards!

Innovation Winner: REACH Transit in Shelby

The project was nominated by the Transportation Administration of Cleveland County, Inc. REACH Transit is a fixed route that runs in Shelby. Residents use this public transportation lifeline to get to medical facilities and pharmacies, grocery stores, and a community college. Many people were unable to access these places previously. View our video on this year’s Innovation winner.

Rural Honorable Mention: REACH Transit in Shelby

Tourism Honorable Mention: Thermal Belt Rail Trail: Connecting Great Small Towns

Most Voted Honorable Mention: Thermal Belt Rail Trail: Connecting Great Small Towns (Over 11,000 votes!)

The N.C. Department of Transportation honored communities today that developed the state’s best multimodal projects, including a public transportation service in Shelby and a bridge with a multi-use path connecting Surf City to Topsail Island.

The NCDOT Mobi Awards, which started last year, honor transportation projects that improve the economy and enhance the quality of life in North Carolina communities. Projects had to combine the use of at least two transportation modes such as aviation, bicycle, pedestrian, ferry, public transportation, rail and roadway.

More than 60 projects competed in this year’s NCDOT Mobi Awards.  

 “Whether we’re building bike and walking paths, making it more convenient for people to use public transportation or finding new ways to safely accommodate travelers on our highways, multimodal projects are an important piece of our transportation present and future,” said state Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette. “And it’s why we’re here today – to celebrate your commitment to multimodal investments and the important role they play in our way of life.”   Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Mobi Awards were presented virtually and are available on NCDOT’s YouTube Channel

Judges selected winners and honorable mentions from the following categories: Rural, Urban, Tourism and Innovation. For a new category, Most Voted Project, all this year’s entries were placed online so the public could vote for a First-Place winner and an honorable mention.  

The 2020 NCDOT Mobi Book, which has detailed descriptions and pictures of all this year’s entries, can be found online.  

Judges selected this year’s top projects based on how well projects leveraged public and private investment, contributed to economic development, created long-term jobs, improved public health and quality of life, and made other significant contributions.   The event’s organizers were NCDOT, the North Carolina Triangle Chapter of Women’s Transportation Seminar, N.C. Go!, and N.C. State University Institute for Transportation Research and Education.

Guidance on Customer Payment Plans under Executive Orders 124 and 142

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed many hardships on businesses, governments, and citizens alike. Governor Cooper took substantial steps to try to alleviate some of these pressures and hardships, but some of them are reaching the end of their lifespan. For Executive Orders 124 and 142, which placed a moratorium on utility disconnections due to non-payments, it means that some customers are left holding outstanding balances. The link below is an in-depth look at how we should all handle these situations and the options for providing these customers with repayment avenues.

For guidance, on payment plans, please click here to view the information provided by the Attorney General’s office.

IPDC can help to guide and assist your team during this time. Staff may provide technical assistance, assist with financial questions, help develop payment plans, find financial assistance for small towns, and more.

To discuss how IPDC can help you, please contact Thadd Hodge, Finance Director, by clicking here

Request for Proposals: Technical Assistance for Appalachian Nonprofits

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) invites proposals from qualified researchers and consultants to provide nonprofits in the Appalachian Region undergoing COVID-19–related financial and organizational hardship with tools and strategies to emerge resilient in the post-COVID world. Considering your organization’s focus and background, we encourage you to review the RFP and consider submitting a proposal. This innovative program will have the following main objectives:

  1. Provide small groups of Appalachian nonprofit organizations with personalized, actionable technical assistance to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and succeed beyond the crisis
  2. Offer mentorship and expertise to low- and medium-capacity nonprofit organizations on the topics of short- and long-term financial management, missional and operational shifts, and fundraising.
  3. Encourage long-term, local cooperation between nonprofits to collectively address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Learn more at www.arc.gov

Proposals will be due on or before August 12, 2020. You can access the RFP at https://www.arc.gov/funding/contracts.asp. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at nonprofitTA@arc.gov.

Virtual NC Foothills Farm Tour

July 24, 2020 – NC Foothills Farm Tour 2020 is going virtual! For more information and to stay up-to-date with all the on-farm happenings, please like them on Facebook and Instagram and follow along by going to their website link below. Farms from Rutherford and Polk Counties will be highlighted each week, and farms are either offering a photo tour or a live video tour of their farms.

Click here to learn more!

Results from Executive Committee Special Meeting on July 23, 2020, to consider Audit Proposals.

The Executive Committee met in Special Session to consider the award of a contract to Anderson, Smith, and Wike, CPA’s for audit services for Fiscal Years 19-20, 20-21, and 21-22, a three-year contract.  In June of this year, the Commission solicited audit firms to bid on this work. The Commission received one bid and two declines.  The lateness and timing of seeking the bids, while limiting in submittals for audit services did merit a very good firm in Anderson, Smith, and Wike CPA’s of Asheville.  The Firm has a robust audit history and experience with School Boards and Councils of Government.  The Executive Committee approved the Awardal of the Contract to Anderson, Smith and Wike for a three-year period with yearly review and negotiations on price.  The first year is $25,000.  The Executive Committee directed the Executive Director and Finance Director to enter the contract based upon their bid packet. 

To review the bids and other information, click on the following links:
1. 072320 Agenda
2. 072320 Public Notice
3. Memo to IPDC Board from Finance Staff on Bids 071720
4. Cover Letter from Bidder
5. Audit Bid to the Commission 071720

PPP in the Isothermal Region

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), created by Congress to provide relief for small-businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic, is a loan program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA). As of July 13, the Isothermal region has received over 1,000 PPP loans. The deadline to apply for the PPP loan has been extended to August 8. Click here to learn more about the region’s PPP data.

Cleveland County

  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds under $150,000 – 561
  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds $150,000 and over – 117

McDowell County

  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds under $150,000 – 255
  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds $150,000 and over – 35

Polk County

  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds under $150,000 – 200
  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds $150,000 and over – 19

Rutherford County

  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds under $150,000 – 405
  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds $150,000 and over – 63


  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds under $150,000 – 1,421
  • Number of Businesses who received PPP funds $150,000 and over – 234

NC State IT Department and Broadband Office Announce Broadband Survey

Raleigh, N.C. – Secretary of N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) and State Chief Information Officer Tracy S. Doaks is urging the public to participate in the new North Carolina Broadband Survey, launched today by the NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office. 

The five-minute survey was created in collaboration with the Friday Institute at NC State University. The survey can be taken online for users with internet access and by phone for users without service, and will be available in both English and Spanish.  

Information gathered using the survey will be used to provide context to the state’s broadband picture, guiding funding opportunities through North Carolina’s Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grant program, informing research and policy recommendations, and supporting strategic targeting of additional funding channels.

This project is an extension of NCDIT’s Speed Reporting Tool, which allowed people to report whether they have internet access at their home or business and determine the speeds received at their address. 

To access the online survey, visit: ncbroadband.gov/survey. Residents without internet service, but with phones capable of text messaging, can text “internet” to 919-750-0553. Standard text messaging rates will apply.  

Residents with land lines or cell phones that do not have texting capability, may call 919-750-0553. The interactive voice response system will guide them through a series of short questions to obtain their address and register it in the database as having no internet capability.  

Shelby Housing Office Relocation

Effective Monday, July 20, 2020, the Shelby Housing Office will be relocating to the Main Office at Isothermal Planning and Development Commission located in Rutherfordton, NC.

The Shelby Housing Office will still be open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Governor Cooper Announces Extension of Phase 2 and Statewide Mask Requirement

On June 24, Governor Roy Cooper issued a mandatory mask requirement across North Carolina and ordered a “pause” on easing any other restrictions as COVID-19 infection rates and the number of hospitalizations continue to climb across the state.

The “Safer At Home” Executive Order, signed May 22, allowed restaurants, barbershops, and salons, among other personal care businesses, to open with capacity restrictions. The order, which was due to expire on June 26, will now be in effect through the July 4 holiday and expire July 17.

The mask mandate will go into effect Friday, June 26 at 5 p.m. Click here to view the Executive Order.

Click here to view Frequently Asked Questions about Executive Order No.147

Click here to view Interim Mask Guidance from the NC Department of Health and Human Services

McDowell County Featured in Our State Magazine

McDowell County’s beautiful landscape and great businesses were recently featured in a video produced by Our State Magazine. Watch below to find out more!

Hit the trails, discover waterfalls, and try delicious cuisine in this Foothills county surrounded by national forest.

LEVERAGE NC to Provide Cities and Towns with Economic Development Training and Resources

The N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM), in partnership with the N.C.
Department of Commerce and its Main Street and Rural Planning Center, the N.C. Downtown Development Association, and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Historic Preservation Office, is proud to announce Leverage NC, a resource designed to further local government economic development efforts. Through a carefully curated catalog of educational offerings and expert resources, Leverage NC will provide cities and towns statewide the tools needed to strengthen local economies and support enhanced business opportunity back at home.

Over the next year, Leverage NC will roll out a set of educational resources designed to address the most immediate issues facing communities and local economies. Topics will include post COVID-19 development, funding and partnerships, organizational development, project development after a disaster, and strategy development for a new normal.

Cities and towns are the economic engine of North Carolina with 80 percent of all jobs and 75 percent of all retail sales in the state occurring within municipal limits. Cities and towns make investments that attract businesses to North Carolina, grow jobs, and create unmatched quality of life. Click here to learn more.

The Appalachian Region: A Data Overview from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey

The Isothermal Regional Commission is a partner with the State of North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Appalachian Regional Commission to assist our members in Polk, Rutherford, and McDowell Counties who are part of the Appalachian Regional Commission area. Commission staff are here to work with our membership and applicants who wish to engage the assistance of the ARC in improving the quality of life and economic conditions here in our region. Part of this assistance is the availibility of studies and other data that can assist our membership as they work for the people in our Region.

This study examines state- and county-level data for the 13 Appalachian states from the 2014-2018 American Community Survey (ACS) and from U.S. Census Bureau population estimates on topics including population, age, race and ethnicity, housing occupancy and tenure, education, labor force, employment and unemployment, income and poverty, health insurance coverage, disability status, migration patterns, and veteran status. Additionally, data are provided on types of housing units, home ownership, types of living arrangements, travel time to work and location of work, and income-to-poverty ratio.

To check out this study, go to our Economic, Community, and Workforce Development page at https://regionc.org/regional-development/

Changes to IPDC Housing Choice Voucher Program Offices

Starting Monday, June 8th, IPDC’s Housing Choice Voucher Program will begin in-person client interactions by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Rutherfordton office, located at 111 West Court Street, and the Shelby Office located at 127 W. Graham Street, Shelby. The Marion Office will operative via mail only until further notice. Click here to learn more about IPDC’s Housing Program.

For in-person appointments, all clients must wear a mask and all staff will wear masks. When clients arrive for their appointment, please call the housing office and inform them you have arrived for your appointment. Staff will ask the client to enter the office at that point or ask the client to remain in their car until they are ready to enter the office. Only one person per appointment will be allowed to enter the office to assist with social distancing. Thank you for your patience during this difficult time.

To contact the IPDC Housing Offices: 

Housing Choice Voucher Program (General Information) –(828) 351-2327
Shelby Housing Office (Cleveland County) – (704) 487-0476 ext. 4

Region C Workforce Development Board Labor Market Overview

Please click on the image above to see a higher resolution image

The Region C Workforce Development Board is pleased to share the latest regional labor market data with the public. While these data trends are disappointing, it is critical to maintain and share this information in order to best understand and respond to the needs of the region particularly during the COVID-19 Pandemic. To learn more about the region’s labor market data, please click here.

Evaluation of the ARC’s Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Projects: FY 2009–FY 2016

A new analysis of ARC’s drinking water and wastewater investments has provided some exciting insights. From 2009 to 2016, $115+ million was invested in 379 water-related projects impacting 221 counties. Teams from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Environmental Finance Center and Virginia Tech found that investments successfully targeted the region’s most economically distressed areas, benefited 17,400 businesses and created nearly 11,700 jobs. As Appalachia deals with both economic transition and COVID-19, these types of insights help us better help communities recover, revitalize and thrive. Click here to learn more.

In 2012, McDowell County, North Carolina purchased the Universal Building– formerly home to a furniture plant that shut down over a decade before and was being used as a warehouse. ARC provided public water to the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center, which is an extension of McDowell Technical Community College (MTCC), to be used as an industrial skills training center.

IPDC Enters Phase 2 and Modifies Service Operations at the Commission

May 22, 2020- The Isothermal Regional Commission (IPDC) will be revising its Service Operations in response to the Governors most recent order [see order here].  From May 22, 2020 at 5pm onward, IPDC will still operate as an essential operation.  As such, our offices will be staffed on a limited staff staggered schedule with updated cleaning and sanitizing scheduled.  We will, for most of our operations, have staff working remotely.  Beginning Monday, June 8th, we will begin client interactions on an appointment only basis.  This will allow time for IPDC staffing to secure PPE, start new sanitizing and cleaning contracts, and to review office protocols to include distancing, spacing and office schedules. 

Starting Monday, June 8th, we will begin interactions with Clients in Housing by Appointment only and on Tuesdays and Thursdays only at the Rutherfordton office, located at 111 West Court Street, Rutherfordton and the Shelby Office located at 127 W. Graham Street, Shelby.  The Marion Office will be by mail only until further notice.

Working Meetings will be done by either conference calls or remote methods to the extent that they are available and user accessible. Public Meetings may be postponed, cancelled, or rescheduled. The IPDC Budget Public Hearing on June 2nd, and June 9th Board of Directors Meeting will be held electronically [please see this link for more information on these meetings]. We post updates to our organization on our web page at www.regionc.org for further information.

Staff Directory is https://regionc.org/contact/staff-directory/.  By dialing these extensions, staff on site or working remotely should be able to respond to questions, comments, or concerns.  

Public Assistance for COVID-19

FEMA Public Assistance funding is available for all eligible sub-recipients throughout North Carolina who have incurred costs due to emergency measures and protective actions to reduce or eliminate the threat of COVID-19.

Eligible sub-recipients include local governments, counties, special political subdivisions and authorities, tribal entities, certain private non-profits (community centers, food programs, hospitals, assisted living facilities, shelters, utility cooperatives), K-12 schools, and institutions of higher education. An applicant must have a minimum of $3,300 of eligible costs (FFY2020) for FEMA to allow a project for cost reimbursement to be written as an emergency protective measure (or Category B work). 

Key facts for COVID-19 and FEMA Public Assistance: 

  • Funds are paid on a reimbursement basis, but expedited funding is available.
  • For this event, eligible reimbursable work and costs are those related to emergency protective measures that have been taken or that will be taken to eliminate or lessen immediate threats to lives, public health and safety due to COVID-19.
  • The incident started January 20, 2020 and is ongoing.
  • Applicants must work though and maintain access to the FEMA Grants Portal (as with a natural disaster event) to access funding.

To learn more about the FEMA’s PA program and how you can apply, click here. Please contact covid19resources@regionc.org with any questions and an IPDC staff member will reach out to assist you.

EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance

EDA will make CARES Act Recovery Assistance grants under the authority of its Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, which is intended to be flexible and responsive to the economic development needs and priorities of local and regional stakeholders.

EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance investments will support a wide range of non-construction and construction activities, including Revolving Loan Funds, in regions across the country experiencing severe economic dislocations brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Examples of projects that EDA may fund through its CARES Act Recovery Assistance include economic recovery planning and preparing technical assistance strategies to address economic dislocations caused by the coronavirus pandemic, preparing or updating resiliency plans to respond to future pandemics, implementing entrepreneurial support programs to diversify economies, and constructing public works and facilities that will support economic recovery, including the deployment of broadband for purposes including supporting telehealth and remote learning for job skills.

Contact IPDC Economic Development staff for more information and assistance.

NCLM Projections for State-Collected Local Government Tax Revenue

This revenue forecast arrives at a time of unprecedented uncertainty, at least in recent memory. A pandemic has been declared across the globe and is changing the face of the world at a rapid pace.

This document summarizes and analyzes state-collected taxes distributed to local governments each year and provides a forecast of these revenue sources for the remainder of the current fiscal year (2019-2020) and the upcoming fiscal year (2020-2021). Click here to view the Revenue Projections memo.

The League annually provides information that cities and towns can use in estimating certain revenues for the upcoming fiscal year, including local government sales and use taxes, the sales tax on piped natural gas and electricity, and beer and wine revenues. Information includes background, factors to consider in making individual estimates, and estimated revenue growth for both the current and coming fiscal years. Click here to be taken to the League’s revenue forecast home page.

Employment Opportunities

There are no positions open at this time. Please check our Employment Opportunities Page by clicking here for future opportunities.

Upcoming Board Meetings

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