Integrating economic development with group harmony


Within the Cherokee culture, Group Harmony is a value which assures that people treat each other with respect, dignity, and love. Several years ago, CPF facilitated a series of meetings in the spirit of Group Harmony with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian, cultural entities, business owners, and community members. These collaborations resulted in a plan to build the local economy based on Cherokee values, culture and heritage. Consequently, significant improvements have been accomplished in the downtown and cultural district areas through partnerships and project implementation. Walkways and fishing piers have been added along the Oconaluftee River, making it more accessible and inviting. Public art, banners, signage and greeters are adding visual stimulation, peaking cultural interest, and providing information to the visitors. The Sequoyah Fund, a CDFI (Community Development Finance Institute), is offering low interest loans to encourage both town aesthetic revitalization projects and entrepreneurial development. In addition, a major advertising campaign for Cherokee cultural amenities has helped to increase the number of visitors interested in culture and heritage.

CPF will continue to work on economic development areas that were identified during Group Harmony based collaborations with a focus on increasing the flow of tourists interested in Cherokee culture and heritage. This work will take place in three parts: (a) attracting more tourists and encouraging them to stay for multiple days; (b) providing them with cultural offerings that are authentic, enjoyable and affordable; and (c) building a base of Cherokee entrepreneurs who can manage the businesses providing these cultural offerings.

The stories in this newsletter showcase the efforts by various partners to bring the above-mentioned goals to fruition. The CPF staff hopes that you enjoy reading the articles!

Bobby Raines, M.B.A.
Executive Director

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