In 2004, after 50 years in operation, the Asheville Livestock Market in Western North Carolina closed its doors. Many local farmers then faced a difficult decision: Continue raising cattle and absorb the increased cost of travel to buy and sell their livestock, or give up cattle farming completely. Bill Gibson, Director of the Southwestern Regional Council of Governments, feared that many would abandon their farms, allowing real estate developers to move in and damage the picturesque Blue Ridge landscape. Bill, along with L.T. Ward from WNC Communities, was called upon to develop a plan to build and operate a central livestock market, which would preserve the economic and environmental ecosystems of the region. L.T. Ward’s management and engineering expertise complemented Bill’s ability to build relationships and to rally the community. This case study tells the story of how Bill became the “seal of approval” in the pursuit of funding for a new market, connecting participants from all sectors at multiple levels. The Western North Carolina Regional Livestock Center (the “Center”) opened in Canton, North Carolina, in March 2011, reinvigorating the region and making small-scale livestock farming economically viable once again.
This case is included in our list of TEN NOTABLE RESOURCES FOR CROSS-SECTOR COLLABORATION IN RURAL AREAS.