TIDAL WAVE: Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. With nearly half of local businesses owned by baby-boomers, economic analysts are working to draw attention to the impending mass retirements of these owners, while others advocate alternative succession plans, like employee cooperatives. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads.

Passing the torch: What happens when local business owners retire?

With 45 percent of business owners in Buncombe County alone facing retirement in the next decade, local groups and service providers are encouraging them to start planning for their company’s next chapter, while simultaneously devising ways to turn an impending crisis into an opportunity for employees to shoulder new responsibilities.

LEGALIZED IT: North Carolina passed legislation allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp in 2015. But barriers still stymie farmers hoping to develop hemp as a new cash crop. Photo courtesy of Vote Hemp

DEA holds up industrial hemp in North Carolina

Local farmers are still holding out hope that 2017 will be the year industrial hemp grows in WNC fields for the first time in decades. But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration isn’t making it easy for growers to source seed or seedlings in time for planting, which may mean another year of waiting for eager prospective hemp growers.

GET MOVING: The newest section of the French Broad River Greenway — open and ready for action. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Asheville’s newest section of greenway opens next to New Belgium Brewery

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest section of the French Broad River Greenway was held Friday, April 21, at the foot of the New Belgium brewery as part of the city of Asheville’s Earth Week Celebration. Representatives from the many public and private partnerships that had a role in the development of this section, called […]

SEW SUSTAINABLE: Asheville's sewing scene is growing, both for businesses and hobbyists. Photo by Kari Barrows

Local businesses aim to make clothing more sustainabl­e

Industry studies show consumers are growing tired of fast, disposable fashion. In addition to a greater awareness of where clothes come from and the impact of their production, a new interest in extending the life of clothing or reusing materials to create new garments is fueling a resurgence of sewing skills in this region and around the country.

UNION DAYS: Approximately 90 workers and organizers of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees of America, Local Div. No. 128 pose for a picture in April 1913. Despite North Carolina’s status as one of the least unionized states in the country, current-day local union chapters such as ATU 128, have a long history of organizing and advocating for workers’ rights in the Southern Highlands. Photo via the Norh Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville North Carolina

Labor pains: WNC unions at a crossroads

In Western North Carolina and across the country, labor unions seem to be a dying breed these days, and many local residents don’t seem overly concerned about it. Yet WNC’s complex history of unionization stretches back to the late 19th century. From high-profile labor disputes and the emergence of “right to work” laws to the […]

HEY YOU GUYS!: Orbit DVD in West Asheville is run by movie nerd Marc McCloud. He sells a little bit of everything to support his first love — films that fascinate. The store is easy to spot with its eye-catching pop art murals. Photos by Able Allen

Local businesses serve Asheville’s geekier side

These days, geeking out is hot. Asheville is home to a vibrant community of people looking to express their nerdier side, and abundant businesses to serve them: From comic books to games to movies and more, this town has it all. Across the country, the cultural partitions surrounding geekdom are being torn down: What was […]