Planning Services & Tools

Our Rural Planning team provides technical assistance for economic development planning.  Communities across the state can take advantage of this service.

Rural Planning has offices located in the West (Asheville), the Piedmont (Winston-Salem), and the East (Washington). Our experienced staff members partner with people in a local government or associated organization, adding value to community and regional economic development efforts.

Services Offered

From planning for future economic expansion, injecting life into existing structures, or developing an economically challenged area, our Rural Planning team can help local communities reach their goals.  We offer targeted assistance in three core areas: economic development analysis, special projects support, and grant assistance.  

Examples of services and assistance include:

  • Economic development strategic planning
  • Market analysis
  • Mapping and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Specialized programs to maximize community economic opportunities
  • Community economic profiles
  • Project management and logistical support
  • Identification of funding opportunities and grant assistance
  • Review of local development policies for process efficiency and more effective economic investment and development
  • Identification of viable projects, collaborative partnerships, and stakeholders
  • Development of new services or products to meet expressed needs

For further details or to discuss your specific needs, please contact the regional office nearest to your community.

Asheville - Western Regional Office
Karen Smith, Chief Economic Development Planner (828) 251-6914 

Washington - Eastern Regional Office 
Lee Padrick, Chief Economic Development Planner (252) 974-1308

Winston-Salem - Piedmont Regional Office 
Darren Rhodes, Program Manager (336) 776-6727

Rural Planning Resources

Guidebook on Local Planning for Healthy Communities

Guidebook on Local Planning for Healthy Communities

Consistent with its mission, the NC Department of Commerce sponsored preparation of a guidebook on integrating healthy planning principles into local comprehensive plans. The document has statewide applicability and provides technical assistance to municipalities and counties in solving local planning problems. Its focus is on multiple dimensions of healthy community planning, but it goes beyond that basic task to provide a resource guide for towns, cities, and counties in preparing a variety of local plans in addition to comprehensive plans.

Guidebook on Local Planning for Healthy Communities

Designing Better Places

Designing Better Places

Why do many towns and cities seem to have split personalities? The older areas, built before World War II, feel inviting. It’s possible to walk safely, the buildings are interesting to look at, and there are places where you’d like to sit and visit. In contrast, the majority of places built in the past 60 years feel totally different. Newer commercial areas are often accessible only by vehicle, and when you’re not inside a building, lingering doesn’t seem appealing.

Thanks to funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Division  has produced a video and two presentations on design issues that strive to answer why this is, how it happened, and what can be done to create more successful and inviting places that people and cars can share. First released on a CD, in 2005 it received the Award for Excellence from the Small Town & Rural Planning Division of the American Planning Association.

Visit the Designing Better Places website for the full package of the video, presentations and materials.