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Rutherford County


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I can tell you that the nicest parts of it, up around Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, are being absolutely butchered by developers at the moment. I can't stand to even go down there anymore and see all the clear-cutting and raw red dirt where they're shaving down the mountainsides. They've even cut down all the trees on the mountain right behind the historic hotel in Lake Lure. It looks horrible.

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Well I can't say I know much about the state of development out there but on the conservation front the state has acquired a few thousands acres of land around the Hickey Nut Gorge, including the privately owned Chimney Rock Park, which is going to be the location of the state's newest state park.

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The western end of Rutherford consisting of the Chimney Rock/Lake Lure area are definitely the big tourist draws, and home to some spectacular natural beauty. The cultural/educational/employment center is the area comprised of Rutherfordton-Spindale-Forest City. Your commercial centers are also in this area.

Like most of rural North Carolina, I would say generally growth outside of second homes and retirement communities is stagnant. The unemployment rate for the county has been fairly high in recent years with the same sort of closures (furniture, textiles, etc.) seen in other similar communities.

I would say Rutherford Co. is in an enviable position due to its relative close proximity to Asheville, Charlotte, and Greenville-Spartanburg. If US 221 is ever widened, there will be a good north-south route almost between SC and I-40.

In summary, Rutherford Co. is in the same boat as a lot of rural NC. It is struggling with the loss of blue collar jobs, the lack of an educated workforce in order to recruit higher skilled jobs, and it is increasingly dependent on second home and retirement communities for tax base and population growth. Tourism is an important facet of the economy, mostly in the west. Maybe not the most sustainable plan, but it is the reality for much of the surrounding area.

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