The Clay County Communities Revitalization Association (CCCRA) was founded during a recession in mountainous Hayesville, NC, to increase environmental, cultural and community awareness; economic opportunity; and hope. When CCCRA began its work, the courthouse in the town center was abandoned, wrapped with caution tape. The community saw more deficits than assets.

Our Role

Through our Resourceful Communities program, we provided CCCRA with guidance in asset-mapping and place-based development, ongoing technical assistance on a range of topics from fundraising to project planning, and small grant support that enabled new programming and partnerships. 

Like spokes on a wheel, the all-volunteer CCCRA, with ongoing support from RCP since 2008, set out to work on a wide variety of projects, including:

  • Constructing a Cherokee heritage exhibition site (photo) and annual festival, which has inspired replication in four small towns.
  • Building trails through the Nantahala National Forest that have become a regional mountain biking destination.
  • Establishing walking paths and programming that link local schools and the community more deeply.
  • Hosting a summer concert series and farmers market that uplifts the area’s bluegrass traditions and local farmers.
  • Renovating the town square and its central historic courthouse, now the center of a revived downtown.

cherokeeCherokee Heritage Festival. Photo courtesy of Natalie Abbassi.

Why This Project Matters

CCCRA’s success belies the scarcity many think of when it comes to rural communities.  With can-do and an appreciation of local people, places and culture, CCCRA developed an array of programs that integrate heritage and eco-tourism, partnerships, and hope. The renovated courthouse breathed new life into downtown, which now boasts newly opened breweries, restaurants and businesses. Locals and visitors enjoy a summer music series, and thousands come together on the Jackrabbit Trail, a favorite destination of hikers, bikers and historians. Voted one of the nicest towns in America, CCCRA demonstrates a model of rural vitality and pride.

CCCRA has demonstrated success in an economically-distressed rural community, and their approach provides a critical model that can uplift the local treasures – people, places, culture – rural communities have to offer. The Conservation Fund and Resourceful Communities are proud to support grassroots partners like CCCRA that take a holistic, community-based approach to promote their unique culture and protect environmental assets, while growing thriving economies. 

Learn More:

How Hayesville, North Carolina, Transformed Itself
Clay County Community Revitalization Association website