Science and Technology Ventures are Launching Historic Burnsville, NC into the 21st Century

When you think of the historic mountain town of Burnsville, you may not immediately think of twenty-first century science and industry. But there are gigabytes of valuable information flowing discretely at lightning speed throughout the county.

Located 35 miles northeast of Asheville and 50 miles southwest of Boone, the friendly small town of Burnsville, NC has long been known for its arts and outdoor recreation opportunities. The town boasts more artists per capita than any other in the U.S. The internationally renowned Penland School of Crafts is located just minutes away, and the Parkway Playhouse serves as the state’s longest-running community theater.
“Burnsville is kind of a cool place to be,” said Jamie McMahan, Yancey County Planner. “Our outdoor recreation has always been some of the best you’ll find on the east coast.” The town is located among some of the highest mountains in Western North Carolina—and in the eastern U.S., for that matter. The area is full of choice spots for hiking, camping, and picnicking. Nearby fly fishing is also some of the best in the region.
Downtown Burnsville businesses certainly capitalize on the arts and outdoors, but local merchants are have branched out to represent businesses across the board. “The retail merchants that you’ll find on Main Street are 100% independent retailers, from antique stores to breweries to pubs, restaurants, galleries, toy stores,” said McMahon. “All do a very thriving business, making it a sort of a very pedestrian friendly, very walkable, very energetic place downtown.”
“But most recently, we’ve actually had sort of a tech surge,” said McMahon. “Yancey County is the only county in North Carolina to have 100% connectivity by fiber to the home. So no matter wherever you live in our rocky terrain here in Yancey County (because we’re pretty mountainous), you can be served with up to a full gig of service by fiber connection.” That connection makes a big difference to residents, visitors, and growing industries alike.
“We attract a lot of people who’ve moved here recently, or visitors, who really are interested in that tech connection,” said McMahon. “They can work from home remotely. So, you get the best of both worlds—the scenic beauty, and you’re connected at the highest speed that you want to be connected.”
Yancey County’s fiber connections and ideal location have started attracting science and engineering ventures to the area. For one, the Bare Dark Sky Observatory, located at the Mayland Earth to Sky Park, just celebrated its grand opening in June 2017. Sitting at an elevation of 2,736 feet with 360-degree views, the observatory is the only internationally designated dark sky park in the southeast. “And we also own the largest publicly owned telescope in the southeastern United States,” said McMahon, “so that’s kind of a cool thing.”
The county is responding in kind by supporting additional education and training. “We’ve just opened the on-spot advanced manufacturing school at Mayland Community College here, which teaches mechatronics, robotics, [and] advanced engineering,” said McMahon. The college is committed to the economic development of the three counties it serves, and graduates of the program are prepared for a variety of twenty-first century careers.
Despite its small-town veneer, Burnsville is refreshing its position as a twenty-first century business destination. With reliable fiber internet connections, a growing population of engineering graduates, and unique scientific opportunities inspired by the area’s ideal location, the area is playing host to a growing number of innovative ventures. Will your business be next?
Main Street Burnsville is home to a wide variety of independent businesses
See the progress and excitement of Burnsville for yourself! Read more about Burnsville, see more photos, or search for homes in the area, from our Beverly-Hanks Burnsville community page. Contact your NAI Beverly-Hanks agent for more information about available commercial space near Burnsville, NC.