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Announcing donation, bank leader calls Ecusta Trail 'the most significant catalyst to our local economy'

Bank leader Fair Nabers Waggoner predicted that the Ecusta Trail "will likely be the most significant catalyst to our local economy in my lifetime” as she announced that United Community Bank's Hendersonville branch had donated $25,000 to Conserving Carolina for the trail's development.

UCB has been working with community organizers of the Ecusta Trail since the formation of the plan, which is expected to be finished in 2027. The vision of the Ecusta Trail is to convert the railbanked rail corridor into a new cultural main street, connecting communities from Hendersonville to Brevard. The goal is to promote health, enriching the quality of life and the economy for everyone.

“The impact of Ecusta Trail, in many ways, especially business, trade and travel, will likely be the most significant catalyst to our local economy in my lifetime,” said Waggoner, city president of the Hendersonville branch.

Conserving Carolina was formed in 2017 with the merger of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and the Pacolet Area Conservancy. After collaborating on conservation projects, the two land trusts united, merging their resources, knowledge, and expertise to elevate the impact and influence. The organization’s mission is to protect, restore and inspire appreciation of the natural world.
“We are truly moved by the deep generosity of United Community Bank in supporting the Ecusta Trail with this leadership-level gift. It shows their dedication to a healthy and thriving community with more economic opportunity, more places for outdoor recreation, and better health for everyone," said Kieran Roe, executive director of Conserving Carolina said in a news release. "We hope that this donation will inspire more donors, so that we can meet our fundraising goal and build the long-awaited Ecusta Trail."

Previously, United Community Bank has sponsored several “friend raising” trail experiences for greater understanding and exposure and have joined forces with the Hendersonville Chamber of Commerce to organize intentional visits to existing rails-to-trails in surrounding areas, which include the Swamp Rabbit and Thermal Belt regions. These collaborative activities played a very positive role in moving the project forward by gaining support from local leaders, politicians, and government officials. Leaders from the respective communities also had the opportunity to share with guests what having a trail has meant within their community and provided a forum for questions with experts in all aspects of a rails-to-trails impact.

“In 2017, we hosted a Swamp Rabbit ride that ended in Downtown Greenville, at which point, we went to the United Community Bank Downtown Greenville conference room and had lunch, during which several leaders from Greenville shared their challenges and successes relating to the trai," Waggoner saidl." All-in-all, these trips, sponsored by United, I believe, have been of incredible value, playing a role in not only educating and engaging many of the key community leaders."

The Conserving Carolina partnership aligns with United Community Bank’s economic empowerment pillar and the Ecusta Trail development will not only be a catalyst for small businesses but also be a significant tool in recruiting larger economic development projects. The impact has already been seen firsthand, with there being an absolute fevered pitch of small business activity underway, very specifically because of the trail. The trail is a phenomenon and an economic driver that will likely have one of the largest financial impacts on their community that they may ever see. The impact will not just be felt in Henderson and Transylvania counties, but also in the outlying surrounding communities. For more information visit