Mills River is both the oldest community in Henderson County and its youngest municipality. Settled hundreds of years ago and named for a tributary of the French Broad River, Mills River has a rich history, much of which is rooted in farming and agriculture that continues today.
Since its incorporation in 2003, lower density housing development policies in the 22-square-mile town have helped Mills River retain its rural feel. Not far from Hendersonville, Asheville or Brevard, the town is amidst the mountains and has lots of farmland.
The 50-acre Mills River Park includes multi-use trails, a dog park, a playground, a picnic shelter, a basketball court and tennis and pickle-ball courts. At the back of the park there is a canoe and kayak launch and a handicapped accessible fishing pier on the Mills River. Future plans for the park include a baseball field and an additional picnic shelter. The Town of Mills River also is in the beginning stages of engineering for the Mills River Valley Trail, a multi-use recreational path along N.C. 280 that will tie into a multi-use path planned for Hwy. 191.
Within the park, the Town Hall is home to government offices as well as the Mills River Library, a branch of the Henderson County Public Library that opened in 2005.
Glenn C. Marlowe Elementary School and Mills River Elementary are both in Mills River and are top-rated in Henderson County and the region.
The town has seen increased economic development in the last several years, including in the craft beverages sector. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company chose the town as the site of its East Coast operation and began brewing and distributing from its facility in 2014. The following year, Bold Rock Hard Cider selected Mills River as the site for its third facility and began producing ciders there that same year.
With its opening in 2018, GF Linamar is the largest economic development project in the last 50 years in Henderson County and the most recent large-scale economic development in Mills River. Mills River is also home to many other manufacturers, including medical technology company Raumedic and pressure-sensitive label maker UPM Raflatac in the Broadpointe Industrial Park.
Mills River’s agricultural heritage continues, too, with commercial farmers and agribusiness companies like Flavor 1st Growers and Packers, plant grafting specialists Tri-Hishtil and the Van Wingerden Greenhouse Company.