AdvantageWest board of directors says group is ‘moving forward’ despite reduction in state funding

Press release

From AdvantageWest:

(Fletcher, N.C. – Aug. 12, 2013): The board of directors of AdvantageWest Economic Development Group took a number of important actions during its regular bimonthly meeting on Aug. 8, including the passage of a budget for fiscal year 2013-14 and a ceremony to swear in newly appointed board members.

This was the first meeting of the full board since North Carolina lawmakers finalized the state budget on July 26 for the current fiscal year. Last year, AdvantageWest received an appropriation of $1.1 million ─ roughly half of the organization’s annual budget. In the new state budget, effective retroactive to July 1, the amount was reduced to $337,000.

AdvantageWest, which serves as the regional economic development partnership for the 23 counties of Western North Carolina, receives support from grants and foundations as well as donations from corporations, organizations and private individuals. That, in combination with cash reserves and work by AdvantageWest board and staff members to identify new sources of income, will continue to sustain the organization, says Board Chairman Tom Alexander.

“Despite the reduction in state funding and the uncertainty of how the reorganization of the N.C. Department of Commerce might affect AdvantageWest, this organization is moving forward,” said Alexander. “We’re focusing on what we need to do to adjust to new realities. Certainly, AdvantageWest may not look exactly the same as it has in recent years, but this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve adapted to changing circumstances. In fact, it’s that flexibility that has helped earn AdvantageWest a reputation as one of the most innovative and diversified economic development organizations in the country.”

In other actions, two new Board members were sworn in, both appointed by the N.C. House of Representatives. Erik Brinke, of Murphy, is director of economic development for Blue Ridge Mountain Electric Membership Corporation and serves as chair of the Cherokee County Board of Education. Bruce Goforth, of Asheville, is founder of Goforth Builders general contractors and formerly represented the 115th District for nearly four terms in the N.C. House.

Also during the meeting, AT&T Regional Director for External Affairs Lavoy Spooner demonstrated the company’s longtime and ongoing support of AdvantageWest’s job creation initiatives by presenting a check for its annual corporate contribution.

“We are truly grateful for the support we receive from AT&T and all our corporate partners,” said AdvantageWest President & CEO Scott Hamilton. “We also appreciate everyone who has advocated in recent months on behalf of the critical role AdvantageWest plays in this region. You have confirmed time and again the value you place in our efforts and in our partnership in creating positive economic opportunities for businesses, organizations and the citizens of Western North Carolina.”

More about AdvantageWest
AdvantageWest is one of seven regional economic development partnerships across North Carolina. The nonprofit, public-private partnership serves the 23 westernmost counties of the state, a geographic region of about 10,000 square miles or about the size of the State of Maryland. Chartered by the state General Assembly in 1993, AdvantageWest is a nonprofit, public-private partnership. Members of the board of directors are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the House and the president pro tempore of the N.C. Senate. AdvantageWest’s program of work focuses on advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurship, the film industry, the green-tech and clean-energy economy, and agribusiness. For more information, visit or call (828) 687-7234. AdvantageWest is on Facebook at and can be followed on Twitter at @AdvantageWest.


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