CEC Communities

We are now accepting our first cohorts for 2016. Cleveland County, NC is in process and is expected to be certified in early 2016.

Since the program was redesigned in late 2015, there are no communities currently certified under the new program. Below are the communities that were certified under the previous CEC® program administered by AdvantageWest, a former regional economic development organization in western North Carolina. The communities have all had success fostering entrepreneurs. We offer a few examples from each community.

Black Mountain
Recipient of the first CEC® certification for a town in North Carolina and the US, Black Mountain and the Swannanoa Valley want businesses to know they are welcome. Businesses who come or grow here find it easy to do business, and business people reach out to each other, mentoring and helping when owners are in a pinch. An active youth entrepreneurial program is helping keep young people in town, assuring this entrepreneurial community will thrive for decades.

Burke County
The towns in this CEC® county are warm, welcoming, and safe—it’s no wonder Burke County is a hidden haven for entrepreneurs and their families. A thriving community college, strong networking group called BeBo, and a low cost of living add credence to Burke County’s reputation as an entrepreneur friendly community.

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Entrepreneurs are warmly welcomed here. There are tax incentives, no state sales tax or property taxes, and excellent resources for starting or relocating a business. Qualla Boundary is a delightful, distinctive place to live and have a business.

Haywood County
Haywood County, the nation’s first certified entrepreneurial community, knows that when business, educators, and government work together, everyone wins. County leaders believe it’s critical for their success.

Macon County
That spirit of entrepreneurship lives today. Macon County residents and businesses know how to flex, how to reinvent themselves as the culture and economy shifts. That’s why they volunteer, take part in civic activities, serve on boards, and welcome fellow entrepreneurs gladly.

Mitchell County
World renowned Penland School of Crafts, Roan Mountain, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Toe River, and the purest quartz in the world are all great destinations. An excellent public school system and Mayland Community College both focus on entrepreneurship, making this area a wonderful place to start or relocate a business.

Polk County
Entrepreneurs are welcomed enthusiastically and there are many resources that help them succeed. Close proximity to larger markets such as Greenville – Spartanburg in SC and Charlotte simplify doing business in the area. The combination of delightful weather, good access to larger markets, great schools, an active, involved retiree population, and a growing agri-based economy creates a vibrant quality of life for area residents.

Transylvania County
Transylvania County is mountain and waterfall country—more than half its land is publicly owned and protected. There are some 250 waterfalls that crisscross the county. Two excellent colleges, world-class Brevard Music Center, a strong core of service-oriented retirees, and a business community that loves entrepreneurs all add up to an exceptional quality of life.

Watauga County
The synergistic partnership between Appalachian State University (ASU) and Watauga County sets Watauga County apart. These two entities support and depend on each other, creating a dynamic environment for entrepreneurs in all kinds of businesses.

Yancey County
The area includes excellent public schools and an involved community college. A thriving arts community, impressive Town Center, and a regional playhouse offer ample cultural opportunities.