The North Carolina Division of Public Health Community Transformation Grant Project aims to create healthier communities by facilitating sustainable policy, systems, and environmental change that increase opportunities connected to the four strategic action areas of active living, healthy eating, tobacco-free living, and community-clinical linkages. The evidence-based practices for achieving this work in rural communities is minimal. The work of MountainWise: Region 1 Community Transformation Grant Project seeks to address this need. MountainWise serves the eight most western counties of North Carolina, including Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Swain, and Transylvania. This conference panel paper provides (1) the strategic vision of the regional work, (2) the relevance and power of a customized external communications plan, (3) the integration of health impact assessments for creating healthy communities through improved

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