Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thanks for something

Gordon over at Scrutiny Hooligans has a post up that lists the earmarks Congressman Heath Shuler has brought to NC-11. The first item grabbed my attention. So this, cross-posted at Scrutiny Hooligans:
$282,000 AdvantageWest (Henderson/Buncombe)
I thank the congressman for funneling some money to our local development agency. But I’ve had my eye on AdvantageWest for years. In my estimation, they have consistently underperformed in achieving their stated goals.
Chartered by the North Carolina General Assembly in 1994, AdvantageWest is a non-profit public-private partnership whose primary focus is marketing the North Carolina mountains to corporations seeking to relocate or open a new facility, expand an existing business within our region, and those who might otherwise improve the quality of life for citizens within our region through activities such as filmmaking, entrepreneurship and tourism.
Or maybe, they’ve simply underperformed in achieving attracting good-paying manufacturing jobs to this area (to replace the thousands we’ve lost).

I was [an observer] at AdvantageWest in 2004 when the governor parachuted in to take some of the credit for Jacob Holm locating a nonwovens plant on Sandhill Rd. 70 jobs - sweet. And since then?

Coats North America (Cherokee County): -98 jobs, 2008
Stanley Furniture (Graham County): -450 jobs, 2007
Western Forge (Cherokee County): -170 jobs, 2006

1,400 jobs were lost in 13 days in Haywood, Buncombe, McDowell and Mitchell back in 2004.

Recently, a friend who wants to start up a small CNC machine shop asked the Asheville Chamber of Commerce what help they could offer him. They offered him the door. Manufacturing, it seems, is too blue collar, and not the kind of “new economy” business they want within the city limits.

AdvantageWest, the Asheville Chamber and local leaders need to get a clue: thousands of laid-off factory workers won’t likely land filmmaking jobs, or “new economy” jobs writing software in trendy Biltmore Ave. storefronts. Our local economy is slowly being hollowed out to where only those who don’t need work (or bring theirs with them) can afford to live here.

Worst of all, that may not change until local moguls awaken to find a shocking shortage of waiters and housekeeping staff.

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