The latest Asheville Metro Economic Report from accounting firm Johnson Price Sprinkle revealed more good news for business in the Asheville area. In the first quarter of 2019, the Asheville area saw an average of 5,400 new jobs compared to the same period the previous year, with gains in manufacturing, professional and business services and construction. Asheville was ranked the metro with the lowest unemployment rate in the state, a position it has held for more than four consecutive years.
The accounting firm also found that retail sales in the Asheville metro totaled $1.7 billion in the first quarter — an all-time first-quarter record. On average, quarterly retail sales have increased during the last two years by 5.4% or $99.7 million.
Movin’ on up
- Janet Whitworth was named president of The Rotary Club of Asheville after serving with the nonprofit for 10 years. Whitworth is the sixth woman to serve as president in the chapter’s 105-year history.
- Josh Hallingse was named to the board of directors for the N.C. Economic Development Association. Hallingse has led the Transylvania Economic Alliance since 2015.
- Paige Henretta, Matthew Johnson, Joseph Stokes, Rika Taylor, Jennifer Wilkerson, Staci Keever and Shane Shoemaker joined EXIT Realty.
Giving and receiving
- The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce was named Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Kit Cramer, president and CEO of the Asheville Chamber, accepted the award on July 15.
- Formation PR + Brand received gold winner recognition for its rebranding of Blue Ridge Community College from the Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition for media professionals.
- Rug and Home owners Rakesh and Dolly Agarwal plan to donate $25,000 in matching funds to the SECU Center for Memory Care, which supports adults facing dementia.
- Internet security company dmarcian announced that it has earned B Corporation certification from B Lab, a nonprofit organization. dmarcian’s certification reflects the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability, ethical employee treatment and its positive impact on the broader community.
Good to know
- Senior living campus Givens Estates announced a $42 million expansion and redevelopment project at its South Asheville campus. Givens will add two residential buildings with 80 one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as additions and renovations to dining areas and the wellness center. The project is scheduled to break ground in February 2020.
- South Carolina-based Black Harbor Wealth Management opened a new location in downtown Asheville.
- Asheville Taxi Co. announced a name change and rebranding to AVL Ride. The transportation company will partner with nonprofit advocacy organization Our VOICE to provide free rides to court, counseling and other needs for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. The company will also provide services to Working Wheels, a nonprofit that restores donated vehicles to working condition for families. In a press release, AVL Ride said it would move donated vehicles and volunteers to mechanics at the Working Wheels lot at no cost.
- Dancing Bear Toys’ new partnership with German toy figurine producer Schleich brings with it a life-sized tiger figure and a new play table to experience while visiting the store.
- After receiving $55 billion in orders and commitments at the Paris Air Show, GE Aviation announced that it will expand two Asheville plants to create a new jet engine production line. The company plans to hire additional technicians, manufacturing specialists, skilled machinists and welders.