Collaboration, economic development and bringing business to Asheville

The President’s choice for Asheville as his first stop following Tuesday’s State of the Union Address highlights an exciting success story in the city and region’s job growth and economic development efforts.

Linamar’s 2011 announcement that it would locate its manufacturing facility in Asheville, and the swift news of its expansion in 2012, means a collective 650 new jobs and a revival of the manufacturing industry that has historically been the backbone of the region.

Job growth and economic development are among the city’s top strategic goals. The City of Asheville’s investments into its infrastructure focus an eye on keeping Asheville a good place to do business and supporting a skilled workforce.

“Our goal is to create an environment that builds on the quality of life Asheville offers and encourages companies to come here, stay here and expand here,” said Lauren Bradley, the city’s Finance and Management Services Director.

Having a strong pool of skilled workers in the area is also crucial to attracting business to Asheville, and the educational opportunities provided by local community colleges ensure that we have an exceptional workforce. Keeping them here is just as important. Asheville’s dedication to quality of life is reflected in strategies like affordable housing and in its complete streets policy, which shows its commitment to multi-modal transportation options.

That commitment was integral in attracting businesses like New Belgium Brewing, which is bringing $175 million in capital improvements and more than 175 jobs by building its east coast facility here.

Attracting businesses like Linamar and New Belgium would not be possible without important collaborations between groups like the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, a public-private partnership of which the City of Asheville is a part, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Buncombe County, and advocates at the state level.

Economic development collaborations have resulted in recent success stories like the construction of the Aloft Hotel and a new city-owned parking deck, the expansion of Thermo Fischer Scientific Inc.’s operations within the City which brought with it 110 jobs, and the development of Biltmore Park Town Square, a 42-acre mixed-use development of office, retail and residential space.