McDowell Economic Development Association, Inc.

Community Assets

McDowell County has an amazing array of community assets that enhance the quality of life for the residents of this community.  The following overview is a sampling of the amenities that make McDowell County unique
McDowell County is home to several primary care practices as well as specialists in a number of diverse fields.  

The McDowell Hospital is currently undergoing a 33-million dollar replacement with completion scheduled for 2017.

McDowell Hospital is pioneering the development of a primary care rural health network for the Mission Health system. Currently six rural health clinic sites containing 8 practices have been recognized by CMS as Rural Health Clinics.


 Proudly Serving the McDowell County community


 Fifth largest private employer in McDowell County

  • 400+ employees, 120 RNs and 65 beds
  • Medical specialties: family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, orthopedics, urology, obstetrics and gynecology
  • Approx 1,800 adult admissions and 24,000 Emergency Department admissions annually
  • Robust primary care network – excess of 75,000 patient visits per year


Our Services Include:

  • Cancer Care
  • Cardiac Rehabilitation
  • Diagnostic Services
  • Emergency Room
  • Laboratory
  • Occupational Medicine Services
  • Pain Management
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Practices
  • Sleep Center
  • Specialty Clinics
  • Sports Medicine Services
  • Surgery Department
  • McDowell Wound Care
  • Women’s Services


  • Independently governed and managed in WNC
  • Operates six hospitals (including McDowell Hospital) serving 18 counties
  • Largest employer west of Charlotte in North Carolina
  • One of the 25 largest employers in the State of North Carolina
  • 10,600+ employees, 2,000 volunteers, 1,000+ physicians
  • Certified in more than 50 specialties and subspecialties
  • Seven Centers of Excellence

To learn more visit their website at:

In addition, the award-winning McDowell County Emergency Medical Service is one of the highest rated EMS departments in North Carolina.  The department operates base stations in Marion, Old Fort, and Nebo. 

McDowell County offers recreational activities that include three public golf courses, trout designated stream fishing, river rafting and rock climbing.  McDowell County is located on the western continental divide and one-third of the land mass is located in the Pisgah National Forest.
In 2003, the 10,000 square foot Corpening Memorial YMCA opened its  doors to the people of McDowell County. This branch location of the YMCA of Western North Carolina features an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, rock climbing wall and fitness center.  The Y offers adult fitness classes in addition to youth programs such as spring and fall soccer.
The McDowell County Recreation Department operates several facilities throughout the county, including the main facility in Marion which features a gymnasium, outdoor swimming pool, and the county's only skatepark.  In addition, the Department maintains ballfields throughout the county and an additional outdoor pool in Old Fort.
The Blue Ridge Parkway traverses the northern section of McDowell County and receives thousands of visitors each year.
There are numerous trails throughout McDowell County.  In 2010, the McDowell Trails Association and the City of Marion dedicated the first phase of the Joseph McDowell Historical Catawba Greenway in Marion.  Future phases will extend along the river towards Old Fort in the west and Lake James in the east.  Additional trails include the statewide Mountains To Sea Trail, the Overmountain Victory Trail, and the Point Lookout Trail.  For more information about these trails, visit the McDowell Tourism Authority's website.
In eastern McDowell County you will find one of the region's jewels, Lake James.  Lake James is the uppermost lake in the Duke Energy Catawba River chain of lakes.  The lake contains 10.2 square miles of surface area and more than 150 miles of shoreline.  There are numerous public and private access points for those wanting to enjoy a day on the lake.  One highlight of Lake James is Lake James State Park.  In operation since 1989, the park recently added 3,000 acres to its holdings.  Amenities include overnight camping, canoe rentals, and a 700 foot long swim beach.  Lake James is also very well known as the site location for several films including "The Last of the Mohicans".
Arts and Humanities
Several arts organizations call McDowell County home.  Since 1972, the McDowell Arts Council Association has promoted the importance of arts in the community.  The council offers numerous classes throughout the year and a summer art camp for youth.  The arts council's facility in Marion is home to a small theater, a gallery and a gift shop where local artists have displayed their works for sale.
McDowell County is also home to performing arts groups such as the Foothills Community Theatre and the Foothills Community Band.