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!

2020 NC Pandemic Reimbursement Funding from Livingstone College

Livingstone College is providing reimbursements for COVID-related food relief activities between March 1, 2020, and November 12, 2020, ranging from $2,500 to $40,000. 

Eligible applicants include NC-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, churches, municipalities, local agencies, and tribal entities. Preference will be given to organizations led by and serving communities of color and/or low-income communities. If your organization is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, you can still apply for funds in partnership with a nonprofit fiscal sponsor. Churches are not required to engage a fiscal sponsor but must meet 501(c)(3) nonprofit requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service. (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf, Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations).

Applications are due December 2, 2020, by 11:59 pm EST via the online application. Click here to complete: https://bit.ly/COVIDreimbursement

Rutherford County Agricultural Survey

If you said YES to any of these questions and are interested in local food and improving the Rutherford County food system, please complete this brief survey for Agritourism & Agricultural Economic Development by November 30th 2020. Click here for the survey.

Do You Know What’s the “Coolest Thing Made in Rutherford County?”

Rutherford County’s Economic Development team needs your help in finding the “Coolest Thing Made in Rutherford County!” To highlight the work done in Rutherford County they are accepting nominations for products manufactured in Rutherford County that you appreciate. Here are the rules: 

To nominate a manufacturer and product, please submit your nomination via Facebook messenger, email (info@rutherfordncedc.com), or by phone at (828) 287-6200.

Hometown Strong Initiative to Improve Internet Connectivity

Hometown Strong is working on an initiative that will improve Internet connectivity in underserved areas of North Carolina. The focus of this initiative will be on underserved census blocks which can be viewed by clicking this link. Even if your site is not in an underserved census block, please submit it for consideration.

They are working with multiple partners across the state in order to provide connectivity solutions, and are looking for community sites across North Carolina that need Internet access. These community sites can be a range of areas such as parks, community centers, mobile home communities, housing authority, neighborhoods, government buildings, etc. The community sites just need to be accessible to community members; spaces with a parking lot, seating area, or other pedestrian-friendly zone are ideal. 

There is a range of solutions that Hometown Strong can offer. Generally, these solutions will include the device, installation, and 12 months of services. The State will then enter into an MOA with the county or municipality in which the community site is located. 

Please click here to fill out this Google form for any site that you are recommending. The information needed includes the name of the site, the physical address, the county, the name, email, and phone number of a site contact who can be at the site for installation, as well as the name, email, and title of the person serving as the signatory for the MOA. 

Please contact Anderson Miller at anderson.miller@osbm.nc.gov with any questions.

Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool – Polk County

NC Housing Finance Agency has announced they will make  $8 million available to eligible organizations for the rehabilitation of owner-occupied homes in selected counties under the 2021 cycle of the Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool (ESFRLP). For the Isothermal region, this loan pool includes Polk County. 

Successful applicants (one per county) will be awarded a set-aside of $190,000 for the rehabilitation of eligible units, with the option of receiving additional funds on a first-come, first-served basis. Nonprofit organizations, local governments, and regional councils of government are eligible to apply for ESFRLP funding.

Potential applicants are encouraged to register for the ESFRLP21 Application Guideline Webinar which will be hosted on Thursday, November 12, 2020, from 1–3 p.m. You can access the ESFRLP21 Application Guideline Webinar by clicking the following link: ESFRLP21 Application Guideline Webinar.

Application forms and guidelines will be available on the Agency’s websiteCompleted applications must be received by the Agency by 5 p.m. Friday, December 18, 2020.

North Carolina Announces New COVID-19 County Alert System

North Carolina is experiencing high levels of community transmission of COVID-19 statewide, but the virus is impacting some counties particularly hard. The State has established a COVID-19 County Alert System to give individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials another tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to slow the spread of the virus. The COVID-19 County Alert System uses metrics informed by the White House Coronavirus Task Force and North Carolina’s key metrics to categorize counties into three tiers:

  1. Yellow: Significant Community Spread
  2. Orange: Substantial Community Spread
  3. Red: Critical Community Spread

As of November 17, the Region’s counties were yellow (McDowell and Polk) and orange (Rutherford and Cleveland). 

Recommended Actions for Individuals, Businesses, and Community Organizations, and Public Officials

  • Limit mixing between households & minimize number of people in social circle
  • Avoid settings where people congregate, like outdoor bars and night clubs (in NC, indoor bars remain closed and indoor night clubs must remain below indoor mass gathering limits)
  • If patronizing restaurants, consider ordering take out from restaurants
    and/or eating outdoors socially distanced
  • Individuals who are at high-risk for developing serious illness should
    consider staying at home as much as possible
  • Reduce your public interactions to mainly essential activities like going to work or school, caring for family members, buying food, getting health care, or picking up medications
For more information, please click here for the press release from Governor Cooper’s office.

Aging Ombudsman Services in the Region – Update

To prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in our region we have temporarily stopped in person Ombudsman services to the public until January 1, 2021. Isothermal Regional Area Agency on Aging provides Ombudsman services that include but are not limited to investigating concerns made on or behalf of residents in long term care settings, provide technical assistance and education to the public on long term care topics; as well as, monitor nursing homes, adult care, and family care homes on resident rights issues.

We will continue to provide assistance and services via phone or virtually.  As part of the CARES Act, the Agency secured electronic devices with data service available for staff and LTC residents use to allow for “face-to-face” communication.  IPDC has purchased the teleconferencing app, ZOOM with toll free calling and unlimited conferencing for staff, providers, and LTC residents’ use. 

Notice of these services has been given to each long-term care facility in our region; as well as posted at our main office, located at 111 West Court Street.

Contact for Ombudsman Services:

Mandy Johnson, MHS, Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman
111 West Court Street
Rutherfordton, NC 28139
1-800-331-9891, toll free
828-287-2281 ext. 225
Fax 828-287-2735

Governor Cooper Announces Applications Open for New Rent and Utility Assistance Program

October 15, 2020 – Governor Roy Cooper announced today that applications are now being accepted for the N.C. Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) Program, which will assist eligible low- and- moderate-income renters experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. The new program seeks to promote housing stability during the ongoing pandemic by providing rent and utility assistance to prevent evictions and utility disconnections.

The HOPE Program will provide $117 million for rent and utility assistance for renters who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, have a current household income that is 80 percent of the area median income or lower, and are behind on their rent or utilities when they apply. 

Renters who need rent or utility assistance can apply online at nc211.org/hope. Applicants who cannot access the online application can also call 2-1-1 and speak with a program representative, who will assist the caller through the application on the phone. Callers can reach 2-1-1 Monday-Friday between 7 am and 6 pm.

The HOPE Program is funded by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant−Coronavirus funds and U.S. Department of Treasury Coronavirus Relief funds, which have been provided to North Carolina. The funds are administered by the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the Department of Public Safety, and will be distributed through community partner agencies across the state.

Renters can apply for utility assistance, rent assistance or both programs. Rent assistance is paid to the landlord on behalf of the applicant. This includes overdue and future rent payments, for up to six months. At least one month’s rent must be overdue at the time of application.

Utility payments will be made directly to the utility provider for up to six months of past due essential utilities, such as electricity, water, sewer/wastewater, natural gas and propane. For more information about the HOPE Program, visit nc211.org/hope.


International Snack Food Company to Invest $24 Million in Kings Mountain

Benestar Brands, an international snack food manufacturer, will create 129 jobs in Cleveland County, Governor Roy Cooper announced today (October 13). The company will invest $24 million to establish a new production facility in Kings Mountain.

“After an extensive search throughout the southeast, we selected Kings Mountain, North Carolina for our newest production facility based on the state’s strong support of the manufacturing industry and talented workforce,” said Carl E. Lee, Jr., CEO of Benestar Brands. “Over the past year, our company has expanded our portfolio of innovative savory snacks, entering new categories that will be produced at this Plant. We look forward to an ongoing partnership with the State of North Carolina as we expand our company.”

The average annual salary for all new positions is $43,021, creating a payroll impact of more than $5.5 million per year. Cleveland County’s overall average annual wage is $40,019.

Congratulations to Cleveland Community College, Cleveland County Government, Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership, and the City of Kings Mountain for their hard work in securing this investment for the region!

Adventure Gear Manufacturer to Invest $1 Million in Old Fort

Triple Aught Design to Add 70 New Jobs in McDowell County

Notice of Housing Assistance Program for McDowell County

The Isothermal Planning and Development Commission (IPDC) will be accepting applications for the Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan (ESFRL) Pool beginning October 1, 2020, at both the McDowell County Administration building (60 E Court St, Marion, NC 28752) and the McDowell County Public Library (90 W Court St, Marion, NC 28752).  Applications will be taken until November 30, 2020. To be considered an Eligible Household, you must meet certain income guidelines:

  1. be below 80% of the area median income ($48,300), or be an elderly (age 62 and over) person with a disability, or be a Veteran or household with a child under the age of six whose health is threatened by lead hazards in the home;
  2. you must be a homeowner and live in the home;
  3. you must have clear title to your home with no liens other than a first mortgage, and;
  4. you must not owe any prior years taxes or have any judgments against the property.

If you have questions please contact Tammy Phillips at IPDC, 828-287-2281, ext 243. 

Department of Commerce Announces Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR) Program

If your business has experienced extraordinary disruption and has not been able to re-open due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NC Department of Commerce’s Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR) Program may be able to offer assistance. To qualify to receive these relief funds, your organization must meet certain eligibility criteria established by the State.

MURR Program assistance is based on four months of rent or mortgage interest and utility costs at an eligible North Carolina business location during the April – August 2020 time period.  The business must have paid these costs in order to receive relief payments from our program, and you’ll be required to show evidence that these payments were in fact made.

The relief amount must not exceed $20,000 per business location, with a limit of up to two business locations per applicant (for a maximum of $40,000 per business).

The total amount of relief funding available for the MURR Program is $40 million.  The applications are first come, first served and it is highly likely that some applications will not receive any relief.

Commerce will accept applications for this assistance on a first-come, first-served basis.  Click here to learn more.

CDC Issues Temporary Halt in Residential Evictions To Prevent the Further Spread of COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), located within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announces the issuance of an Order under Section 361 of the Public Health Service Act to temporarily halt residential evictions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This Order is effective September 4, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Under this Order, a landlord, owner of a residential property, or other person [3with a legal right to pursue eviction or possessory action, shall not evict any covered person from any residential property in any jurisdiction to which this Order applies during the effective period of the Order. This Order does not apply in any State, local, territorial, or tribal area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection than the requirements listed in this Order. Nor does this order apply to American Samoa, which has reported no cases of COVID-19, until such time as cases are reported.

In accordance with 42 U.S.C. 264(e), this Order does not preclude State, local, territorial, and tribal authorities from imposing additional requirements that provide greater public-health protection and are more restrictive than the requirements in this Order.This Order is a temporary eviction moratorium to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. This Order does not relieve any individual of any obligation to pay rent, make a housing payment, or comply with any other obligation that the individual may have under a tenancy, lease, or similar contract. Nothing in this Order precludes the charging or collecting of fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the failure to pay rent or other housing payment on a timely basis, under the terms of any applicable contract.

Under the Order, tenants cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent, provided the tenant signs the Declaration that is attached to the CDC Order certifying that:

  1. They have used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;
  2. They expect to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), were not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to Section 2201 of the CARES Act;
  3. They are unable to pay their full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, lay-offs, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;
  4. They are using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as their circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses;
  5. If evicted they would likely become homeless, need to move into a homeless shelter, or need to move into a new residence shared by other people who live in close quarters because they have no other available housing options.
  6. They understand they must still pay rent or make a housing payment, and comply with other obligations that they may have under their tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract. The understand that fees, penalties, or interest for not paying rent or making a housing payment on time as required by their tenancy, lease agreement, or similar contract may still be charged or collected; and
  7. They understand that at the end of this temporary halt on evictions on December 31, 2020, their housing provider may require payment in full for all payments not made prior to and during the temporary halt and failure to pay may make them subject to eviction.

The Order does not relieve the tenants’ obligation to pay rent and the tenants must continue to comply with terms under the lease. However, tenants qualifying as “Covered Persons” under the Order cannot be evicted for nonpayment of rent in violation of the lease if the CDC eviction protections are invoked (see below). Nothing in the Order precludes the landlords from charging or collecting fees, penalties, or interest as a result of the tenants’ inability to pay rent on a timely basis. Evictions unrelated to nonpayment of rent can still take place, e.g., criminal activity. Any state, local, or territorial area with a moratorium on residential evictions that provides the same or greater level of public-health protection can supersede the Order. Nothing in the Order affects the CARES Act waivers or funding a PHA receives or is utilizing.

Take a Survey to Bring Broadband to our Region!

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.

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

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. 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.  

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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