The Western North Carolina Vitality Index is a tool developed to provide information necessary to protect the region’s unique natural resources, promote development and planning that accommodates healthy growth, preserve the heritage and culture that defines communities, while strengthening public health and improving local economies.  The project was developed by UNC-Asheville National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center from the result of a partnership between the US Forest Service, the NC Mountain Resources Commission, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, the Asheville Board of Realtors and Duke Energy.

Want to learn more about the Vitality Index?  Click HERE to download a one-page PDF file with everything you need to know…

The current iteration of the index contains over 160 different data metrics for each of the western 27 counties in NC.  The information is classified into natural, built, human and economic sectors.  Access to the information is web-based and open to the public at  Data and maps can be downloaded, spatially examined, and compared with state and national averages.  A map viewer function allows users to customize their own maps for specific reports, grant applications, and general education and various presentations.  An extensive report can be downloaded from the site as a PDF (see above link).  The purpose of the project is to inform decision-makers and the public about the connections between these sectors and how decisions about one issue can have many impacts and influences on other issues that were previously unrecognized.

The purpose of the conference is for attendees to examine the current tool, explore its potential utility, and determine if SAMAB should investigate the feasibility and usefulness of expansions of the geographic scope to Southern Appalachia as a whole.   We also hope to facilitate a conversation about the general vitality of the region with an overview of:
Natural, Human, Built & Economic Systems.

From this we hope to provide a more comprehensive basis to:
*Protect our region’s abundant and unique natural resources
*Promote development and land use planning that accommodates healthy growth
*Preserve the heritage that defines our communities while strengthening public health
*Improve the region’s local economic activity and expand its influence