Brevard, North Carolina
A Vibrant, Diverse, and Innovative City
A blending of natural amenities, arts and culture and economic innovation, Brevard, North Carolina, is poised for further growth
The city of Brevard is a dynamic and diverse community, where arts and culture blend with natural splendor, alongside a growing hub of biotechnology and other innovative industries. With a population of 8000, Brevard is located in North Carolina’s stunning Blue Ridge Mountains and is known as the “land of waterfalls” due to the area’s 250 spectacular cascades.
“We have a lot of outdoor recreation, but besides that, we have a unique culture,” boasts Mayor Maureen Copelof. “We are a center of arts and music. Brevard is a great place for families. It’s a great place for visitors. It’s a great place to locate businesses and industries. As a small town, it has a life and a sense of place and a vibrancy that’s truly one of a kind.
With a robust portfolio of capital projects underway, City Manager Wilson Hooper says, “We’ve done a good job of leveraging state and federal resources to supplement our local resources. As a matter of fact, we discovered that for every $1 of local money we have in capital projects, we have $2 of state and federal money.”
Projects include an investment in trails, specifically the Ecusta Trail, a 19.4-mile multi-use trail that will connect the cities of Hendersonville and Brevard, and the Estatoe Trail, a 4.5 mile pathway that winds through the city. The city also has its eye on less visible infrastructure improvements to water and sewer pipes,” Hooper adds, “The goal is to make our town an attractive destination for both residents and businesses by providing the infrastructure that folks need to conduct commerce, but also to be an attractive destination to live. Companies are looking for a good lifestyle for their employees, and we want to work hard to create that lifestyle.”
Burton Hodges, Executive Director of the Transylvania Economic Alliance, relays that Transylvania County has seen close to $75 million in foreign biotechnology investment coming from India and China over the last 2 years.
“The city of Brevard has been a key player in helping to support the growth of those industries,” he remarks. “North Carolina has a well-established brand as a hub of international biotechnology. We have developed a strong cluster on the momentum of the state’s growth in that sector over the past couple of decades; we have become the ‘Research Triangle Park of the West’. We’re not a huge metropolitan community, but we have a highly educated workforce and companies that value the quality of place.”
Listing Raybow USA and Pisgah Laboratories as two of the major players in the region, the reports that they have both announced plans for expansion, bringing approximately 125 new jobs to the community. Gaia Herbs, another major employer with headquarters in Brevard, is currently undergoing a $4 million expansion. As for workforce development, Brevard is fortunate to have the Customized Training program, a North Carolina initiative facilitated by the North Carolina Community College System. “All three of those corporate citizens are currently involved with the Customized Training project through Blue Ridge Community College,” details Hodges.
Tourism is another economic driver for the city of Brevard, which works with Explore Brevard for traditional tourism marketing and development. Hodges says, “What the Transylvania Economic Alliance does is try to attract and work with tourism-related investments. So, not necessarily attracting tourists, but attracting different types of employment and corporate citizens that are centered on the hospitality industry.” He shares the example of City Camper, a $50 million boutique hotel that is currently under construction in the city’s downtown, explaining, “It is almost exclusively centered on connecting their guests with our robust outdoor recreation assets.”
On the city side, Hooper acknowledges, “The tourism industry starts off with homegrown storefronts and shops and things like that, and then evolves into bigger and more expensive things like hotels. The next step is leveraging the culture that shops, hotels, and outdoor amenities create to become a competitive destination for the outdoor industry.”
With companies like SylvanSport, who build campers and other outdoor equipment, Hooper says he would like to see Brevard evolve into a destination of choice for outdoor product manufacturers, not only because of the ideal surroundings for testing, but also because of the culture and quality of life that Brevard can offer to employees.
On the subject of housing and development Hooper says, “What I think is just as notable as the number of projects, is that our elected board has decided to review our unified development ordinance to make sure we can open up more properties for the development of housing units so that we can ease some of the pressure that’s on the supply, and make sure we don’t have any regulations that are unintentionally inhibiting the development of housing.”
Recognizing that the market in Brevard is more expensive than average, Hooper says, “We’re trying to become a much greater partner for the private sector developers who want to come in and build housing in our market. We want to make sure that we are working with those private sector developers so they can find a welcoming environment here.”
“Housing is one of our biggest challenges because we are in a mountainous community and there are limited areas of developable land,” admits Mayor Copelof. “We really are using creative approaches to maximize the use of that land. Along with the infill development, we’re also working with non-traditional partners, with some of our faith organizations who own land, trying to come up with areas where we can really focus on building workforce housing. We want to make sure we have housing available in all the different price ranges.”
Preserving the character of the community is also a priority,she notes, “We want to make sure we preserve our traditional neighborhoods so that we don’t lose what’s really unique about the city when we continue to grow and build. Although we are encouraging this growth, we are growing in a way that is focused and in line with the values and the vision our community has for this town.”
On the subject of community partnerships, Copelof says that the city has “incredible partners”. Mentioning the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce as one such relationship, she shares, “Our chamber of commerce is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. So, you can see it’s been a big player for quite a while.” Other valuable collaborations include those with the city’s Main Street program, Heart of Brevard, and educational partners Blue Ridge Community College, Brevard College, and the Brevard Music Center.
“These are all very strong partnerships that we have. Of course, we are partnered constantly with all of the various entities,the different stores, the artists, all of the community events that we do in town,” she says. Non-profit group Conserving Carolina is another important relationship for Brevard, who, along withFriends of the Ecusta Trail, have acquired an additional 34 acres of the Bracken Preserve to further develop an existing mountain bike trail.
Located in an area where rainfall is a major challenge, Brevard is working to address water management,adding permeable pavers to the built environment and introducing native plantings to reduce water usage. As for sustainability, Copelof maintains, “We are using a multi-pronged approach. We have regulations that are in place in terms of construction, in terms of how much green space you have to have, how many trees you have to plant, the solar indexes that you’ve got to have on roofing- but we’re also looking at the entire built environment, to preserve the native plantings, the green space, the beauty, at the same time that all this development is going on.”
As part of the climate resiliency effort, Brevard has installed EV charging stations throughout the community, and police are using bicycles on city paths.
Copelof asserts, “We’re very aware of the environment. As mayor, I’m responsible for six miles of Mother Earth, and it’s not just the 8000 people who live here, everything in those six miles is part of the responsibility as an elected official. We have to preserve that and make sure this is a place where people can get outdoors and enjoy the environment. Climate resiliency is something that’s really at the forefront of our consideration as we look to grow and meet the future needs of our community.”
Highlighting the importance of a holistic approach to growth and development for the city of Brevard moving forward, Mayor Copelof says, “It all comes back to the vision of a connected community that respects its environment, understands a sense of place, and looks forward to a very prosperous and enjoyable future.”
AT A GLANCE
Brevard, North Carolina
What: A community of 8000 with a growing biotechnology sector
Where: Transylvania County, North Carolina
Comporium, Inc. – www.comporium.com
In Brevard, our quality of life stems from many diverse elements, like beautiful scenery, a bustling downtown, a thriving arts community and robust economic development. Technology also affects how residents go about their daily lives. It’s no longer a convenience; it’s a necessity. At Comporium, we’re focused on improving access to this technology for our residential and business customers in Transylvania County.
Since entering the Brevard market in 2008, Comporium has combined private investment with North Carolina GREAT Grants to complete numerous network upgrades. The investment has paid off, creating a technology profile that’s almost unrecognizable compared to what was available 15 years ago. In August of 2020, gigabit broadband service was rolled out to over 70% of the homes in Transylvania County. This upgrade resulted in maximum broadband speeds that were over 66,500% faster than the service offered in 2008.
But Comporium’s community investment doesn’t stop there. In addition to local employees who offer superior customer service, a recent donation of $50,000 to the Ecusta Trail demonstrates our support of initiatives that make Brevard a better place to live and work. These partnerships allow us to fully participate in this thriving region while making life easier–and better–for our customers.
Explore Brevard and the Transylvania County Tourism Development Authority – www.explorebrevard.com
Small Town, Big Adventure
How Brevard, NC Keeps its Cool
For well over a century, visitors have come to Transylvania County, North Carolina seeking adventure, inspiration, and unforgettable scenery. With lush forests, spectacular views, and 250 waterfalls, Transylvania County is a very special place.
At its heart is the vibrant small town of Brevard, which is not merely a cozy basecamp for outdoor adventure, but a celebrated destination for art, music, dining and shopping in its own right. The historic downtown bustles with exciting shops and galleries, representing a broad diversity of interests and tastes. Delicious dining options abound. And an exciting local brewery culture, including Oskar Blues, has truly put the town on the map for beer connoisseurs.
The Brevard Music Center brings dozens of world class music performances to their campus every summer, and throughout the year the local community hums with a number of beloved annual events and festivals that capture the imagination no matter the season.
Brevard’s interconnectedness to the public lands and priceless natural resources surrounding it have fostered a commitment to sustainability that strives to make sure Transylvania County remains a priceless gift. One not only for today’s residents and visitors, but also for tomorrow’s.
Discover what makes Brevard such a magical place.
Brevard Music Center – www.brevardmusic.org
Brevard Music Center stands as one of this country’s premier summer festivals and concert venues. Under the artistic direction of acclaimed conductor Keith Lockhart, BMC annually presents more than 120 world-class performances and events to 40,000+ enthusiastic concertgoers, and serves as a powerful economic engine for the Brevard community.