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!

Virtual Hiring Event for McDowell County – June 4, 2:00 – 4:00 PM

Join our virtual hiring event on Zoom for Kitsbow, Westrock and ToolCraft. During the event, hiring Reps will discuss their job openings, requirements, benefits, schedules and starting wages. If you have questions, you can ask via audio or chat.

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.

Isothermal Housing Task Force

The Isothermal Housing Task Force will meet virtually via Zoom on June 9 at 2:00 PM. This meeting will feature Tyler Mulligan the Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government, and Director, Development Finance Initiative at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Tyler will be available to answer questions about housing concerns during the meeting and offer a new perspective on housing issues facing the Isothermal region. Click here to access the Isothermal Housing Data page.

Housing Task Force members will be sent a email invitation to join the Zoom meeting on June 9. If any members of the public wish to join the Housing Task Force meeting, please email Sarah Kopkin at skopkin@regionc.org for the meeting invite.

EcoGuard Pivots to Producing PPE

EcoGuard located in Grover is a leader in manufacturing the reusable and recyclable shopping bags, gift bags, and promotion bags. In response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, they are currently running production for face masks and are giving it to customers who need it most.

They recently donated 500 medical masks to Hospice Cleveland County! Special thanks to EcoGuard for answering the call for PPE in the region and to Beth Norman, the Director of Existing Industry Relations with the Cleveland County Economic Development Partnership for coordinating the donation. Click here to learn more and see EcoGuard’s PPE products.

Kitsbow Partners with Wake Forest Baptist for PPE

Kitsbow, located in Old Fort, has also pivoted its North Carolina design and manufacturing capabilities to create large volumes of PPE made here in the USA where it is needed. As of Mid-May 2020, they have made 40,000+ Face Shields, and 25,000+ Face Masks. 

Most recently, Kitsbow has partnered with Wake Forest Baptist Health to design and create a mask that is more comfortable for extended wear. The mask is designed with a larger space in front of the mouth, which makes it easier to talk while wearing one for a long work shift, and unable to touch it. The mask also has cord locks that enables a better fit across the cheekbones. Huge thanks to Kitsbow for helping keep the Isothermal region prepared and safe during the pandemic! Click here to learn more about Kitsbow and their work

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.



The Isothermal Planning and Development Commission budget for Fiscal Year 2020 – 2021 will be  available on May 18, 2020 for public inspection online at budgetA public hearing on the proposed budget will be held at: 12:00 noon on June 2, 2020 via an electronic meeting. The Town of Rutherfordton, Rutherford County & State of North Carolina are under a State of Emergency with provisions for social distancing, limits on gatherings and stay at home orders. The IPDC, under North Carolina General Statue 143-318.13 will host an electronic meeting. The meeting will be recorded and placed on the IPDC Website at www.regionc.org 

For those wishing to speak during public comment period, the public can submit written comments to the Executive Director at sdadson@regionc.org no later than 1 hour before the start of the meeting. The Executive Director will then read public comments into the record during the meeting.

Executive Committee Meets and Discusses FY 20-21 Budget, Roof Contract, Health Care for Commission Employees on May 14, 2020

The regular scheduled meeting of the IPDC Executive Commission was held on Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 11:30 am via an electronic meeting. The Town of Rutherfordton, Rutherford County & State of North Carolina are under a State of Emergency with provisions for social distancing, limits on gatherings and stay at home orders. The IPDC, under North Carolina General Statue 143-318.13 hosted an electronic meeting. The meeting was e recorded and placed below for viewing.

The Executive Committee Discussed and approved a roofing contract for the headquarter building in the amount of $29,000 to Benton Roofing. The Headquarters roof started leaking in a series of events starting in February and filed an insurance claim which was approved and the funds will be used for this work. The Committee also approved a new Fleet of Vehicles for the upcoming fiscal year with Enterprise Fleet Services. These will improve the services of the Commission and will create safe transportation for employees of the Commission as well as will result in savings for the Programs of the Commission.

The Committee also reviewed and approved a modified Health Care Plan with the current provider, North Carolina League of Municipalities/Medcost that includes an increase and a modified self funding portion. The Committee also reviewed the fourth quarter financials and cash position of the Commission.

For more information, the Agenda Can be found by clicking here.

Census 2020

Census information drives funding and resources available to public schools, our healthcare systems, infrastructure, local government services, housing and more and recognizing that we have had some outward migration of our population since the 2010 Census, it is critical that we improve on our total count for the 2020 US Census. Click here to participate in the 2020 Census!

Click below to watch a video of local leaders in Rutherford County encouraging residents to participate in the US Census 2020 survey process. Currently, the US participation rate is 57.7%, NC is 53.5% and Rutherford County is at 44.7% (Click here to see Rutherford County’s self-response rate data).

Rutherford County, NC – Census 2020: #StandUpBeCounted

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.

Isothermal Regional Commission presents a Back to Work Webinar

On May 7 at 3:30 PM on Zoom, IPDC will host a panel of representatives from the healthcare field and business sector to share advice and insight on what small business owners, employees, and the community can expect when Governor Cooper lifts North Carolina’s Stay-At-Home Order and begins Phase 1 of his reopening plan.

Click here to view the “Back to Work” Webinar recording.

Isothermal Region Business Survey

Do you own a business in the Isothermal region? If so, IPDC wants to hear from you. Please complete our Isothermal Region Business Survey. We want to hear how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on your business and if you have been able to receive any assistance from the various programs available. Please take our quick survey below!

Create your own user feedback survey

NC Rapid Recovery Program – HB 1043 Update

May 4, 2020 – House Bill 1043, a bipartisan effort by the NC General Assembly and which was signed into law by Governor Cooper this morning, includes an appropriation of $125 million to Golden LEAF for the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program. This appropriation is a significant fiscal commitment that will help meet the needs of North Carolina’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners.

The need is great and we know our small business owners have a long road ahead of them. The NC Rural Center and their partners in the NC Rapid Recovery Loan Program will do all we can to assist them. Applications to the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program will continue to be reviewed on a first come, first served basis. 

To learn more about the program and apply for a NC Rapid Recovery Loan, please click here. Contact IPDC staff via covid19resources@regionc.org with any questions.

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.

FEMA COVID-19 Public Assistance Application

In response to the COVID-19, FEMA may provide funding to eligible applicants for costs related to emergency protective measures conducted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emergency protective measures are activities conducted to address immediate threats to life, public health, and safety. Eligible Applicants may submit funding requests to the Recipient and FEMA through the Public Assistance Grants Portal.

The purpose of the Public Assistance (PA) Grant Program is to support communities’ recovery from major disasters by providing them with grant assistance for debris removal, life-saving emergency protective measures, and restoring public infrastructure. Local governments, states, tribes, territories and certain private nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.

Public Assistance is FEMA’s largest grant program. Since 2017, FEMA gave over five billion dollars through PA grants to help communities clear debris and rebuild roads, schools, libraries, and other public facilities.

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

Statewide and Regional Resources for Businesses and Individuals During COVID-19

The Isothermal Regional Commission has set up a COVID-19 Resource Page for businesses and individuals who may have questions about available resources and services during this time. This page will be updated regularly.

Resources from the State of North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office

We understand that broadband access is more critical at this time than ever before, as people need connectivity for telemedicine, telework, distance learning, connections to others, and for critical information.

We want to make sure you are aware that the NC Department of Information Technology, through the Broadband Infrastructure Office, launched a map of the offerings it has been made aware of for free or low-cost internet service, as well as the location of a growing number of Public Wi-Fi spots that broadband providers are making available around the state. The map is available at https://www.ncbroadband.gov/covid19broadband/.

In addition, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) determined that community use of E-Rate supported Wi-Fi networks is permitted during school and library closures due to Covid-19. Therefore, our local school systems, that have the capacity, can now offer Public Wi-Fi to transmit outside of their school buildings, by reconfiguring the current school Wi-Fi networks. These Public Wi-Fi spots at the schools will also be posted on the website above.  We are working with the State Library to coordinate a similar effort, as possible, with local libraries that have Public Wi-Fi systems.  With these Public Wi-Fi areas being developed around the state, the public accessing the networks would need to follow social distancing guidelines and remain inside their vehicles. In addition, public institutions setting up Public Wi-Fi are encouraged to be hyper aware of cybersecurity issues and take precautions for securing any networks before opening them up to the public.

Broadband providers or other vendors with ideas, special offerings or Public Wi-Fi locations, are asked to submit them to: covid.vendor.ideas@nc.gov , so we can keep the public map up-to-date. School systems and libraries with Public Wi-Fi locations are asked to submit locations through the same email address so they can be added to our public map.

In addition to continuing to work closely with our broadband providers across the state, the Broadband Infrastructure Office’s Technical Assistance team is continuing to work with local leaders to share information and develop strategies for broadband access in local communities. We also work closely with the Hometown Strong team on outreach and coordination efforts in the relevant counties.

See our COVID-19 Internet and Mobile Services page for more information.

North Carolina Broadband Indices Available

2-14-2020 – The North Carolina Broadband Indices (Indices) available on our Broadband Page. Check it out here.

Board of Directors Supports the designation of US74,to a Future Interstate Quality Corridor

To see the Resolution, go to the US 74 Resolution by clicking here.

IPDC Staff Technical Assistance

The Isothermal Regional Commission held its first Technical Assistance Kickoff on January 30, 2020 at the IPDC Main Offices.  This kickoff event gave our newest team members a chance to meet our membership and to discuss ways to better serve the membership in the coming calendar year.   Economic, Community Development and Workforce Director Steve Lockett introduced our newest staff which includes Sarah Kopkin and Nick Byrd, who serve as Project Managers in the Economic and Community Development division.  In the Transportation Planning Division (RPO) the group was introduced to Jerry Stensland, who will be working on the Safe Routes to School Grant in Rutherford County as well as assisting RPO Director Karyl Fuller with RPO services to the member governments of Polk, Rutherford and McDowell Counties. 

Isothermal Regional staff discussed ways they can provide technical assistance for members, including: Zoning and planning needs, back office support, grant writing, project management, development of comprehensive plans or economic development strategies, and much more! Staff will also provide updates on the upcoming ARC grant cycle, as well as other funding sources, including the EDA, USDA, and Dogwood Foundation.  A handout of this information and staff contact is now available for folks.  Click here for further information.

There was  discussion about the upcoming land use changes of Chapter 160D of the State of North Carolina State Statutes. Our staff discussed with participating members where they may be of use to assist our members, ensuring compliance before the initial deadline at the end of 2020 and the grace period deadline in 2022. 

The 2020 Calendar year is full of Grant Opportunities and Commission staff discussed deadlines and other details for this list of Grants.  For a full list of Grants, click here.
To find out more about our Technical Assistance program, check out our website here: Technical Assistance.

Employment Opportunities

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

Upcoming Board Meetings

The Board of Directors of the Isothermal Commissions Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on the FY 20-21 Budget on Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 12 Noon. The Meeting will be held electronically. To see the Budget Message, click here. Public Comments my be forwarded to sdadson@regionc.org up to an hour before the meeting to be read into the record.

Keep up with the region:

Stay up to date with the region by subscribing to our Regional Newsletter