Western North Carolina has faced economic challenges for decades. Industries that once brought prosperity – tobacco, textiles, furniture manufacturing – have waned. As a largely rural area, it is not an easy place to develop new industry. Rather than continue bidding wars with other locations to chase "the next big thing," the region decided to focus on its local assets, and businesses with an organic connection to the region. A cluster of outdoor equipment companies has emerged, one that taps the recreational opportunities of the Blue Ridge Mountains as it competes on a national scale. This style of economic development is catching on nationwide, and is based on four pillars for success: focus on regional growth, supporting local entrepreneurship, extending supply chains, and building connections within and across industries.