In May, three organizations with deep roots and proud histories of environmental advocacy in Western North Carolina announced a significant merger. Western North Carolina Alliance, Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO) and Jackson-Macon Conservation Alliance have joined forces to create a new organization that will combine resources and expertise to enhance their impact on pressing local and regional issues.
With offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, Boone and Franklin, the new organization will build the capacity for deeper, coordinated engagement with citizens across 23 counties in this diverse mountain region. The merged organization will provide a new platform through which to expand programs and enhance influence at many levels. Leaders of each organization also hope that this unified, highly visible organization will attract new supporters and help build a larger and more vibrant community of advocates for the protection of Western North Carolina’s precious natural resources and high quality of life.
"Bringing organizations – especially small organizations – together just makes sense," says Representative Chuck McGrady, a member of the NC legislature from Hendersonville, NC. "It's more efficient from an administrative standpoint and a larger organization typically brings more expertise and more ability to influence outcomes. In this particular case, a truly regional environmental group with broad issue expertise and reach throughout the region should be more effective than any of the three groups were on their own."
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation recently approved a grant to support the newly merged organization through a strategic planning process and the development of its new brand identity.
"By supporting the merger, and particularly our desire to thoughtfully combine our work through strategic planning, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is enabling us to build on our existing programs, integrate our organizational and membership cultures, and create a lasting framework that will allow us to more effectively serve the entire mountain region on a wide range of environmental issues," says Julie Mayfield, co-director of Western North Carolina Alliance.
A name, logo and strategic vision for the organization will be released for Western NC's new voice for the environment later this year.