In 2002, HCPED was supported by public and private sources to engage Lockwood Greene to develop a master economic development plan for Henderson County. The plan included a labor study, marketing plan, target industry analysis and competitive assessment. The target market analysis identified business sectors likely to flourish in our community, and examined why some sectors are or are not an ideal fit with the assets our community offers. The report identified 8 primary and 4 secondary clusters including plastics, automotive components, medical products, recreational sporting goods, and machinery manufacturing. The Partnership has focused on these targets from an external marketing effort, as well as enhancing the network of existing businesses in these sectors.
The Partnership has been developing a targeted outdoor/recreation manufacturing marketing strategy, and that effort has led us to examine the various assets that support this industry. First and foremost, a vibrant existing cluster of outdoor companies has proven successful in our area, including Cane Creek Cycling, Liquid Logic, Morewood Bicycles, Diamond Brand Manufacturing, FFR Trikes, Olympia Motorsports, Ohlins USA, and Parts Unlimited.
Adding to the strong existing business base are the outdoor recreation assets that our area has like State and National Parks, hiking, biking, fishing, and paddling opportunities. The area’s landscape, climate and culture further support the idea that a company can develop, test, make and sell their product in one location. Using western NC as a testing grounds for products is an advantage that few communities can provide. From a workforce perspective, these companies have the capacity to attract employees that value and use their product and are passionate about the industry from a professional and personal perspective.
The region has attracted the Outdoor Industry Association Rendezvous in the last year, showcasing the region to hundreds of management personnel from outdoor companies. Each year in November, the Green River Narrows Race brings business supporting the kayaking industry, and their buyers, to our community for what some call the best whitewater kayak race in the world. Our focus is to build on these events and assets to support the businesses that are already here, and to identify and communicate to companies that might put our competitive advantage to their benefit.