Biz briefs: Employment, home prices and visitor numbers all trending upward

FIRED UP: Blossman Gas & Appliance opened an expanded retail store on Spartanburg Highway in Hendersonville. In addition to tripling its appliance offerings, Blossman also added a propane autogas fueling station with the new location. Photo courtesy of Blossman

Report on fourth quarter shows employment growth

Accountancy firm Johnson Price Sprinkle crunched the numbers for the fourth quarter of 2018 and came up with plenty of good news for workers in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties.

The area added 4,300 new jobs from a year earlier, racking up a better-than-state-average growth rate of 2.2% and continuing a streak of positive job growth that’s stretched for nearly 8 1/2 years. Manufacturing jobs grew by 1,400, the sector’s strongest performance in over two decades.

And the unemployment rate, at 2.9%, remained the lowest among all the state’s metro areas.

Still, it’s not all sunshine and flowers in the local employment market. About 6,700 local residents are unable to secure permanent positions, and Asheville-area wages rank eighth among 15 metros in the state and trail statewide and national averages.

Beacon site gets new owner

Financial services company Symmetry Financial Group announced on June 19 its purchase of the former Beacon Mill site, a 42-acre parcel in Swannanoa.

Once the bustling home of the Beacon Manufacturing Co., for a time the world’s largest producer of blankets, the factory ceased operations in 2002. The following year, a fire set by an arsonist destroyed 1 million square feet of industrial buildings, leaving the land vacant and contaminated.

According to a press release from Swannanoa-based Symmetry, “Development plans include a new office space for the company, with plans to break ground in 2020. There are ongoing discussions in place regarding a recently proposed family-friendly indoor sports complex. Additionally, the site has potential for retail, commercial and recreational uses.”

New in town

  • Joseph Poveromo launched IMPACT Real Estate Group, a commercial real estate firm, in Fletcher. The firm will work in the North Carolina and Florida markets.
  • Hawthorn Montessori and Fox Flower Montessori will open this summer to serve children ages 3-12 at a location near UNC Asheville on Riverside Drive. The schools will accept child care vouchers and N.C. Opportunity Scholarships in addition to offering need-based scholarships.
  • Blossman Gas & Appliance opened a new location at 2180 Spartanburg Highway in East Flat Rock. The new retail store, the company said, has double the area of the previous location and includes a propane autogas refueling station.
  • Sachi Massage and Wellness opened a second location at 322 Eighth Ave. E. in Hendersonville. Expanding beyond its original facility at 210 Merrimon Ave. in Asheville will allow clients in Hendersonville and points south easier access to massage and other services, the company said in a press release.
  • A 113-room Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites opened on June 5 at 155 Underwood Road in Fletcher.
  • Sanesco International relocated from 1010 Merrimon Ave. in Asheville to 2 Trident Drive in Arden to meet the company’s need for more space. In transitioning from about 5,000 to over 20,000 square feet, the health services company says it has secured ample room for continuing expansion.
  • Bagatelle Books opened at 428 C Haywood Road in West Asheville. Conceived by local bookseller Patrick Kutcher — who’s also worked with The Captain’s Bookshelf, Downtown Books & News and Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe — the store specializes in used, rare and antiquarian books.
  • With its opening in June at 375 Depot St., Girl and Goblin became the first tattoo shop in Asheville’s River Arts District. The business also features taxidermy and other oddities.

Changing hands

  • Asheville-based RISC Networks was acquired by Illinois software company Flexera. According to a company spokesperson, “A majority of the 40 RISC employees and execs will stay on, and the office will remain open in Asheville. As with other Flexera acquisitions … RISC Networks will become part of, and operate as, Flexera.”
  • Paul Casey and Brian Good purchased music venue Asheville Music Hall and The One Stop in late May. Asheville Music Hall at 31 Patton Ave. is a 350-person space that features a wide range of genres, while The One Stop (located directly below, with its entrance at 55 College St.) has a capacity of 200 and includes a late-night restaurant.
  • Asheville City Council on May 28 voted to accept a new five- to 10-year naming agreement for the city-owned Asheville Civic Center. Beginning Jan. 1, the facility will be known as the Harrah’s Cherokee Center Asheville. The potential value of the deal over a 10-year term is $5.75 million.

People going places

  • F. Lachicotte “Lach” Zemp, Jr. of Roberts & Stevens was confirmed as president of the N.C. Association of Defense Attorneys on June 15 at the organization’s annual meeting, held this year at The Omni Grove Park Inn.
  • South Carolina resident Rob Duckett became president of The Cliffs, with oversight of day-to-day operations of the company’s three divisions: Cliffs Clubs, Cliffs Land and Cliffs Realty.
  • IT services provider Immedion LLC named Steve Newman director of sales operations.
  • Libby Kyles is set to become CEO of the YWCA of Asheville, replacing Beth Maczka, who stepped down after seven years in the role.
  • Kim Wagenaar was named CEO, and Cody McKinney was named CFO, of Western North Carolina Community Health Services, which is also known as Minnie Jones Health Center.

By the numbers

  • Passenger numbers at Asheville Regional Airport keep flying high. In the fourth quarter of 2018, the airport served 332,180 passengers, up nearly 22% from a year earlier, setting a new all-time quarterly record and marking the ninth consecutive quarter with double-digit passenger increases.
  • In a study by the website, Asheville ranked No. 9 among the best cities in the state to live, based on an analysis of employment, housing, quality of life, education and health. The study ranked Cary the No. 1 city in the state.
  • In May, home sales across the Asheville metropolitan statistical area increased 7.6%, with 751 homes sold during the month, compared with 698 sold during May last year. Sales compared to the previous month rose over 25%, indicating a brisk spring selling season. Average and median sales prices also rose.
  • Hendersonville’s Cummings Cove made Where to Retire’s list of the top 50 master-planned communities in the United States.

Good to know

  • Venture Asheville awarded $5,000 microgrants to startups Relaspen, No Sweat Undies, 3 Mountains, Asheville Wedding Collective and Burban. The companies receiving funding were selected from among 99 applicants.
  • The third annual Asheville Entrepreneurship Week will take place Tuesday-Saturday, Sept. 3-7.
  • Explore Asheville launched mobile guides on showing places to eat, drink, shop, hike and more, as well as real-time parking updates.
  • Aeroflow Healthcare was named a Great Place to Work by — wait for it — Great Place to Work. The certification is based on “validated employee feedback,” according to a press release.



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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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