Past PPI Projects


Hendersonville Parking Survey: PPI Graduate Assistants completed a density survey using GIS maps and interviews for the downtown Hendersonville district.

2014 North Carolina Nonprofits Survey: This survey, in partnership with the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, examined relevant technical and strategic issues facing nonprofits of all sizes in North Carolina. 

2014 Local Government Survey: The annual LoGoS (Local Government Survey) has been conducted by the PPI since 2012 and reaches out to all city and county managers in North Carolina to gauge their opinions on current issues facing local governments. This project allows students to improve quantitative, surveying, and communications skills, and provides one of the only recurring sources of annual data on local governance in the state. Our students choose the topic, develop questions, manage mailings, analyze results, and write reports based on the findings of the survey. The report is then distributed to local government leaders throughout the state. In 2014, we chose to focus on personnel issues and policies in local governments.


Fall 2013 - Constitution Day Celebration: Each year, the PPI is responsible for planning and hosting the Constitution Day Celebrations on campus. Constitution Day, celebrated at universities and schools around the country, provides an opportunity for students to increase their knowledge of the Constitution; to improve their ability to read, research and analyze laws; and to improve written and oral communication skills as well as event and project management skills. Students from the PPI and the Pre-Law Club participated in organizing several events across campus. This year’s events included a “Constitutional Game Show” on the University Center lawn; distribution of free U.S. Constitutions; and an evening forum on changes to North Carolina election laws. Held in the Bardo Center lecture hall, the forum was considered a big success, with elected officials and community members in attendance along with students; participants and those who could not make the event were provided with a written summary of election law changes available in print and online.

Fall 2013 - Appalachian Women’s History Museum Funding Study: One of our graduate students created a focused research project to assist the Appalachian Women’s Museum in Dillsboro, North Carolina, in developing a long-term funding strategy. The study provided examples, background, and recommendations for future funding prospects to help restore and manage an historic property in Western North Carolina.

Fall 2013-Spring 2014 - Local Government Surveys: The annual LoGoS (Local Government Survey) has been conducted by the PPI since 2012 and reaches out to all city and county managers in North Carolina to gauge their opinions on current issues facing local governments. This project allows students to improve quantitative, surveying, and communications skills, and provides one of the only recurring sources of annual data on local governance in the state. Our students choose the topic, develop questions, manage mailings, analyze results, and write reports based on the findings of the survey. The report is then distributed to local government leaders throughout the state. In 2013, our survey focused on citizen interactions and communications with local governments; in 2014, we chose to focus on personnel issues and policies in local governments.

Fall 2013 - Town of Maiden Parks Plan: The PPI makes every effort to place graduate students interested in research into beneficial projects that allow them to manage and lead a project that benefits a local town or agency. This fall, one of our graduate students assisted the Town of Maiden with a parks plan that guided redevelopment and upgrades for three parks in the town limits. This plan allowed the student to improve organizational and communication skills; employ new research methods and tools such as GIS and environmental assessments; learn real-world budgeting skills; and build relationships with diverse groups to create a proposal that would meet the Town’s needs.

Fall 2013-Spring 2014 - Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Survey: Surveying more than 4,000 citizens, the PPI assisted the Henderson County Sheriff’s Office in conducting a Citizen Satisfaction Survey, obtaining survey results that demonstrated how people perceived crime in their communities and their level of satisfaction with law enforcement agencies. Students assisted in developing and distributing the survey as well as in analyzing the results. This allowed the PPI (and our graduate students) the opportunity to assist a local government partner that is working to improve the quality of life for all their residents.

Fall 2013 - University Emergency Services Survey: Led by one of our graduate students, the PPI created and distributed a survey to all colleges and universities in the U.S. that focused on how their emergency services infrastructure is organized. The survey included questions on notification systems, funding sources, and other issues relevant to emergency management personnel.

Spring 2014: Cullowhee Revitalization Endeavor (CuRvE) River Corridor Survey: Our community partner, CuRvE, is a local nonprofit focused on revitalizing areas adjacent to campus for recreational and economic use. We created and implemented a survey for students, faculty, staff, and community members about user preferences for a river area along Old Cullowhee Road. Survey results will be used as part of a larger economic impact study and allowed our students to learn how their quantitative and surveying skills can be applied to larger issues, such as funding and economic development.

Continuing Programs - Western North Carolina Food Policy Council: The PPI is a founding partner and host organization for the WNC Food Policy Council, an organization that aims to build more effective policies that strengthen WNC’s food economy and increase economic security for all residents of the seven-county region (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Jackson, Macon and Haywood). The WNCFPC brings together food producers, policy leaders, academic researchers, food security agencies, and local governments to address policy issues for agricultural development and food security, and acts as the state point of contact for many hunger alleviation and agricultural development programs.


North Carolina 11th Congressional District Debate was held on Tuesday October 23, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the A.K. Hinds University Center Theater.  This event was hosted by the Public Policy Institute and the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.  The debate featured Congressional candidates Mark Meadows and Hayden Rogers.  Russ Bowen, news anchor and reporter for WLOS-TV was the moderator.  For pictures from the debate, check out the PPI Picture Gallery.

Black Mountain Public Input Project: We worked with the Town of Black Mountain in order to gauge public input on the future of Town Square. We have worked with many local governments and non-profits in western North Carolina and believe we have the knowledge and experience to produce a useful report that will help guide the town to make the best decision possible. Our proposal included three main components: (1) focus groups, (2) a scientifically conducted survey, and (3) presenting the results to the town in the most useful way possible. For more information concerning the Black Mountain Town Square Consultancy Project Proposal, click here.

American Youth Congress: The Public Policy Institute presents the American Youth Congress (AYC) each year with the goals of teaching the importance of civic education and responsible citizenship to the middle school and high school students in Western North Carolina.  We are able to better equip our youth with the knowledge and importance of civic duty by teaching how the legislative process works and providing a better understanding of the actual process.  Not only do students have the opportunity to have a hands-on experience of the legislative process, but they get the chance to speak to and learn from a key, local political representative. This event has been such a great learning tool for students in our region that it has become part of the annual curriculum for many schools.  Along with giving middle and high school age students a realistic learning opportunity, the AYC allows for undergraduate and graduate students to gain leadership, and business skills necessary for success while implementing this project. For more on the AYC, click here.

SMN Public Opinion Poll: The WCU Public Policy Institute teamed up with the Smoky Mountain News to produce a scientific public opinion poll focusing solely on Jackson County.  For specific survey results and details on the poll, please click here.

   Public Policy Students Publish Work on Wikipedia - The Reporter, February 9, 2011


College Poll Worker Program: Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute sponsored a collaborative effort to recruit more students and citizens with diverse backgrounds to serve as poll workers in county elections. Election administration in western North Carolina measures an average age of poll workers in Buncombe County at 60 and in Jackson County at 68.  In addition to questions about the representativeness of poll workers drawn overwhelmingly from older residents, there are not enough younger people being trained to replace this increasingly aging poll worker population. In 2009, to help solve the problem, the Public Policy Institute helped coordinate the recruitment of students to serve in Jackson and Buncombe county precincts for the 2009 and 2010 elections. For more information about our ongoing efforts, visit the Jackson County Board of Elections or the Buncombe County Board of Elections

     Sylva Parking Shortage in the Eye of the Beholder - Smoky Mountain News, May 26, 2010

Know Your Region Project: Recent research has focused attention on the need for regional approaches to economic development, yet the economic development practice lags in implementing such strategies. The Know Your Region Project has been designed to address this shortfall.

Having recognized the importance of forward-thinking strategic planning to successful regional economic development, the U.S. Economic Development Administration funded the development of the Know Your Region curriculum to encourage communities to incorporate the principles of regionalism and clustering to this planning process. Research has suggested that those communities which understood and leveraged their regional assets were able to produce and implement more effective economic development plans for their communities.

The Know Your Region curriculum was developed as follows:

  • Module One ("Framework") begins by offering practitioners a framework for engaging in collaborative regional economic development.
  • Module Two ("Leadership") provides guidance on how to engage and sustain the leadership required for effective regional development efforts.
  • Module Three ("Regional Advantage") provides an overview of how to identify regional competitive advantage and supplementary tools and instructions on how to identify clusters by leveraging other EDA investments.
  • Module Four ("Strategies") provides information on the most common strategies regional economies find effective for addressing challenges, and the Module Four case study offers more specific information about one particular strategy: linking workforce and economic development efforts.
  • Module Five ("Execution") provides tools on how to implement and evaluate regional economic development initiatives. The review module details important considerations practitioners may need to consider as they engage in this process.

Together, these modules have offered practitioners concrete information and important insights that have be used to enhance EDA’s CEDS, as well as other federal planning documents.

The Know Your Region Project was directed in part during 2009-2010 by the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University.

Other Past Projects and News Reports

American Youth Congress - April 4, 2009
Constitution Day - September 17, 2008
Emergency and Disaster Leadership in the 21st Century - November 15, 2007 (brochure - PDF)
7th Annual American Youth Congress: Youth Legislative Think Tank - March 24, 2007, Asheville, NC
A Commitment to Energy Independence and Economic Development - November 15, 2006 (brochure - PDF)
6th Annual American Youth Congress: Legislator for a Day - March 25, 2006, Asheville, NC
Winning the War on Methamphetamine: A Multi-Dimensional Approach - November 16, 2005 (brochure - PDF)
College Democrat -Republican Debate - October 2006
5th Annual American Youth Congress: Legislator for a Day - March 12, 2005
Renewing America through Citizen Paticipation and Civic Engagement - November 8, 2004
Catching the American Dream: A Summit on Entrepreneurship - November 19, 2003
3rd Annual Legislative Youth Assembly - March 29, 2003
Western North Carolina Women's Agenda Assembly - January 11, 2003
Safe School Summit - November 14, 2002
2nd Annual Local Government Youth Assembly - March 23, 2002
Creating the Spirit of Community: Cultural and Heritage Tourism - November 15, 2001
Planning for the New Economy - November 8, 2000
The 21st Century: A Conference and Workshop of Cultural Diversity and Community Citizenship - April 6, 2000
Is it Time to Renew Citizenship, Democracy and Responsibility in America? - November 4, 1999
Domestic Terrorism: Technological, Chemical, Biological and Conventional Weapons (Planning, Prevention, and Education) - March 31, 1999 


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