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!

Public Notice of Foothills Regional Commission Board of Directors Meeting

A Meeting of the Foothills Regional Commission (formerly the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission or IPDC) Board of Directors will be held on Tuesday, June 8th, at 1:00 PM at 111 West Court Street, Rutherfordton, NC 28139, with an option for participation via an electronic meeting, under North Carolina General Statue 143-318.13 will host an electronic meeting.

For public participation in the Foothills Board of Directors meeting, you may join the virtual meeting on GoToMeeting via computer, telephone or cell phone. To join, you must contact Steve Lockett, at SLockett@regionc.org, at least two (2) hours prior to the meeting to be provided with the login information. 

You will initially be placed on hold/mute if you plan on participating in the meeting. We will call upon you by the name registered or your phone number. Once called upon you will be unmuted and be able to participate in the public comment. If you have any questions before the meeting please contact Steve Lockett at slockett@regionc.org.

The meeting will be recorded and placed on the Foothills Website at www.regionc.org 

Foothills Regional Commission FY21-22 Available for Review

The Foothills budget for FY21-22 can be found here for review.

IPDC Will Be Changing its Name and Brand

IPDC is thrilled to announce that we will be changing our name to Foothills Regional Commission! This name change comes after months of work, in partnership with Formation PR, on reviewing our name and brand, conducting surveys and interviews, and having discussions on who we are as an organization.

The name Foothills Regional Commission best represents who we are as an organization in 2021, what we do, and how we support our regional members.

Starting today, we will be beginning the process of integrating our new name into our daily practices, and we expect to have our new website active in June. The plan is to complete the changeover, from website to emails to letterhead and business cards, by July 1st. We will conduct this process in a way that will appear seamless to our members, partners, and the community, and we will be releasing more information about the changeover shortly.

We are excited about becoming the Foothills Regional Commission!!

IPDC Names New Executive Director

The Executive Committee of the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission (IPDC) is pleased to announce that Steve Lockett has been named the new Executive Director of IPDC, effective immediately.  Steve has been with IPDC for over four years, serving as the Director of Economic, Community, and Workforce Development, and he has over 15 years of experience in regional economic development. 

“We are excited to have Steve take on the Executive Director role,” says Fred Baisden, Chair of the IPDC Executive Committee.  “We value his experience at IPDC and in our region, and we are confident he can take our organization to the next level.” 

“I am thrilled and honored to have this opportunity, and I look forward to working with our great staff and regional partners as we move forward,” says Steve.  “We have a great region, with a lot of potential.  I want IPDC to be a partner, convener, and champion for all of our members and our entire region.”

Isothermal Housing Task Force – Regional Plan

The Isothermal Housing Task Force is made up of nonprofit, government, and community leaders around the Isothermal region. The Housing Task Force’s goal is to study the issue of affordable housing in the four-county region, consult with housing industry experts, and explore ways the region’s municipalities and government sectors can protect existing opportunities for quality, stable, and affordable housing for residents and extend those opportunities.

Click here to download the report or see the PDF below:


Isothermal 2019 County Aging Profiles

The 2019 State Aging Profile and the 2019 County Aging Profiles (for all 100 counties) were recently released from the NC Division of Aging and Adult Services. To see data on the Isothermal region, please click here.

You’ll find race and ethnicity information along with social and economic characteristics. There is also data on health, workforce, grandparents raising grandchildren, and COVID-19.

ARC Impact on North Carolina in FY 2020


President Biden Signs Executive Orders to Extend Eviction & Foreclosure Protections

Several hours after being sworn in, President Joseph Biden signed multiple executive orders and actions to address numerous COVID-19 related health and economic impacts. Among them President Biden directed the CDC to extend its national eviction moratorium through the end of March. The current order was set to expire on January 31st. Restrictions on foreclosures of properties with federally-guaranteed mortgages were also extended to March 31st. Additionally, the deadline to apply for forbearances on such mortgages is extended to March 31st. 

To view the media release from CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, click here.

Press Release Regarding Leadership Changes at IPDC


Department of Commerce Releases 2021 County Tier Designations

The North Carolina Department of Commerce annually ranks the state’s 100 counties based on economic well-being and assigns each a Tier designation. This Tier system is incorporated into various state programs to encourage economic activity in the less prosperous areas of the state.

The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2, and the 20 least distressed as Tier 3.

County Tiers are calculated using four factors:

  • Average unemployment rate
  • Median household income
  • Percentage growth in population
  • Adjusted property tax base per capita

IPDC county tiers for 2021 are:

  • Cleveland County – Tier 1 (Most Distressed)
  • McDowell County – Tier 2
  • Polk County – Tier 3
  • Rutherford County – Tier 1(Most Distressed)

To learn more about the Department of Commerce 2021 tier designations, please click here to read the November 30 press release.

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

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. 

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 two positions open at this time. Please check our Employment Opportunities page by clicking here

Upcoming Board Meetings

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