Skip to main content

Economic Development & Employment

Economic development and employment opportunities are integral to the success and sustainability of a community and its residents. “Employment provides income and, often, benefits that can support healthy lifestyle choices. Unemployment and underemployment limit these choices, and negatively affect both quality of life and health overall. The economic condition of a community and an individual’s level of educational attainment both play important roles in shaping employment opportunities” (County Health Rankings, 2021). 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate changed drastically over the course of 2020. In January 2020, Jackson County’s unemployment rate was 4%, which was in line with previous year averages. Because of the quarantine and shut downs happening across the country, unemployment rates drastically increased, rising to 17.5% in Jackson County during May 2020 (NC Department of Commerce, Demand Driven Delivery System: Local Area Unemployment Statistics, 2021). Rates remained higher than average through the end of year, then leveled out during 2021, with the October 2021 unemployment rate at 3.2% in Jackson County (The Sylva Herald & Ruralite, 2021). Sourced from Jackson County Community Health Assessment 2021 by the Department of Public Health.

Community Partners that actively work with WCU in the Economic Development & Employment focus area are listed below. If you are interested in working on a project with one of these organization, please contact the CCESL office. For all volunteer opportunities, visit the CCESL Engage page.

Jackson County 4-H

4-H is a youth development organization devoted to helping youth ages 5-18 become responsible, productive citizens. This is accomplished through experiential learning opportunities in clubs, school-based programs and special interest activities.

Macon Program for Progress, Inc.


A nonprofit community action agency, MPP improves the standard of living for low-income families in Macon County. MPP seeks to provide services that help the whole family, including Head Start/Early Head Start/NC Pre-K, economic development opportunities, and community networking for families in need.

Main Street Sylva Association

MSA is a non-profit organization and is the driving force for a vital downtown business district. The MSA’s mission is to spur economic development in Downtown Sylva within the context of historic preservation. This is accomplished through the implementation of the National Main Street Center's Four Point Approach: Design, Organization, Promotion and Economic Restructuring.

Office of Web Services