Sam Powers to retire from position as Asheville Community and Economic Development Director

Sam Powers photo


After 16 years as Asheville Community and Economic Development Director, Sam Powers will retire in April. Please join us in congratulating Powers on this 16 years of service to the City of Asheville. Powers has worked in the Community and Economic Development field for a total of 43 years. 


“Retirement was a difficult decision to reach, given the wonderful team I have in the Community and Economic Development Department, the Harrah’s Cherokee Center, and the City organization as a whole,” said Powers. “These teammates wake up every day with a goal to make Asheville a better City for all or our residents and businesses.”


“Sam Powers’ accomplishments with the City of Asheville are many and our community has received so many benefits from his leadership,” said City Manager Debra Campbell.


Those accomplishments include: 

  • Partnership with the EDC/Chamber/County, resulting in over $1 billion in new capital investment in the City limits, and the creation of over 2,200 new living wage jobs, including the location of new manufacturing facilities for  New Belgium Brewing, White Labs, Linamar Corp., and major manufacturing expansions at GE Aviation, PLI Plasticard Locktech, Moog Music, Highland Brewing, Hi-Wire Brewing, and Burial Beer.
  • Partnership with the Tourism Development Authority and Buncombe County that has generated over $15 million in renovations to the City’s civic center complex, and the implementation of two major naming rights agreements valued at more than $8 million for the facility.
  • Partnership with Buncombe County, UNC Asheville and MAHEC to recruit a satellite campus of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, providing professional pharmacy graduates to underserved areas of WNC. 
  • Recruitment of major events to the City, including the Southern Conference Basketball Tournament, the nation’s oldest post-season college basketball tournament, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary this March.
  • Recruitment partnerships with AdvantageWest, N.C. Film Office, to secure filming locations in the City of major motion pictures, including “The Hunger Games” and “MasterMinds,” as well as numerous commercial film shoots, creating significant economic impact for retail businesses in Asheville.
  • Strategic disposition of excess City property, including the Clarion Inn property, and property for future expansion of White Labs, bringing more than $10 million in revenue to the City.
  • Providing economic development support for a City cross departmental team assisting major mixed use projects, including the Aloft Hotel/City Parking Garage, and the economic development agreement/voluntary annexation agreement for Biltmore Park Town Square.

“I am immensely proud of many projects and programs that our Community and Economic Development team has accomplished, and continue to lead,” Powers said. 

During his leadership, the Powers has also overseen Community Development’s efforts to increase affordable and workforce housing, including the long-awaited Hilliard multi-family apartments currently under construction; reorganization of the Business Inclusion Office and adoption of the new Business Inclusion Policy;  a transition to Economic Development of management of Outdoor Special Events; continued growth of the City of Asheville Youth Leadership Academy program (CAYLA); effective management of a strong Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) focusing on the needs of our low to moderate income residents; and successful staff management of the Continuum of Care and work to support the end of homelessness in our community.

In 2012, Powers was named North Carolina’s Economic Developer of the Year by N.C. Economic Developers Association, and in 2018 he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Southern Economic Development Council. He has served as President of the Carolinawest Economic Development Board, and on the Grove Arcade Public Market Foundation Board.  He received an award for Outstanding Volunteer for the Downtown YMCA and he has served on the Downtown YMCA Advisory Board.

An Interim Community and Economic Development Director will be named and a search will begin immediately to fill his position.