7-15-2022 – WPCOG launches new app

Posted on: July 15th, 2022 by admin No Comments


July 15, 2022




Jul 14, 2022


LENOIR — After two years of development, hundreds of drone flights, and extensive work with community partners, the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG) announced the launch of the N.C. Foothills Experience Web App. It’s a comprehensive program highlighting the rich collection of adventures, experiences, amenities, and food destinations across the four-county region, which consists of Alexander, Burke, Caldwell, and Catawba counties.


“The more amenities a place has, the more attractive it becomes to employers and employees,” said Duncan Cavanaugh, WPCOG transportation planner and data technician. “This tool will promote economic development. It goes hand-in-hand with living the kind of lifestyle that’s not just about work, but other things to do as well, because those are equally important.”


The project, which was made possible through funding from the EDA CARES Act, is a first-of-its-kind application designed to demonstrate to prospective residents and businesses — as well as current residents — that by relocating to or staying in this region, they can experience a high quality of life that offers an ideal work-life balance.


“We are excited to launch the N.C. Foothills Experience,” said Anthony Starr, WPCOG executive director. “Our region possesses so many great assets and things to do. This tool helps our residents and visitors easily access information, and it demonstrates how this area is the best of North Carolina.”


On Wednesday, July 13, the WPCOG hosted a launch event at its offices in Hickory. The launch event revealed the new N.C. Foothills Experience logo and a short demonstration of the app’s many capabilities.


With nearly 100 immersive drone videos, hundreds of photos, and several user-friendly maps, this one-of-a-kind web app celebrates the region’s quality of life by highlighting the many destinations and activities that make this area so special.


“Job seekers and current residents really want to live where there’s lots of fun and culture,” Cavanaugh said. “Businesses looking for new places to locate know a region with a high quality of life is key for recruiting and retaining employees.”


The web app, which can be found at expncfoothills.com, focuses on four key categories that contribute significantly to the region’s high quality of life. In Caldwell County, that includes:


  • Outdoor Adventures, featuring nearly 40 locations including local, state, and national parks, hiking/biking trails, boat access areas, greenways, and bicycle routes.
  • Fun Places, featuring about 25 locations including cultural amenities such as museums, libraries, festivals such as the Sawmills Fall Festival and the Blackberry Festival, and downtown.
  • Farm Fresh, featuring three local food sources such as farmers markets, U-Pick farms, roadside stands, and butchers.
  • Cool Spaces, featuring 10 locations including local breweries, wineries like the Twisted Vine Winery, distilleries, coffee shops, bike shops, skateboard shops, and outdoor outfitters.


Each location and event included within these four categories are represented by icons on maps, which users can click on to see immersive high-definition drone videos, photos, and engaging descriptions. Users can then click on another category to build their own personalized experiences. For example, after selecting a historic destination to visit, a user can click on the other categories to create a multi-destination experience, including a bite to eat at a local brew pub, a bike ride on a greenway, and a visit to downtown.


“We took the drone out to where people want to be,” Cavanaugh said. “We tried to make those drone videos and produce them in a way that makes people feel like they’re there. The drone is not flying super high, it’s flying at head level, so people can experience what it would be like to take a walk or hike along the greenway, for instance. The videos are high quality, high resolution videos.”


Visitors and prospective new neighbors will find a treasure trove of experiences to explore, while even long-term residents are likely to discover something new to try.


WPCOG expressed an appreciation to the many project partners and stakeholders who worked together to make this vision a reality. Project partners included 28 local government members, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, local tourism promotion and visitors bureaus, Main Street and downtown development programs, chambers of commerce and EDCs, local extension offices, and the hundreds of people across the region that assisted by providing photos of their locations and events.


To check out the app, visit expncfoothills.com.


“Even now, gas prices are going up and local residents might be looking for places to go and fun things to do that they’ve never even heard about,” said Cavanaugh. “With this app, they can save their money and not have to drive so far.”

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