According to a report by Johnson Price Sprinkle PA, private industry average hourly earnings in the Asheville metro are came in at $22.87 in the first quarter of 2018, a slight gain of 0.5 percent from a year earlier. Earnings growth has remained relatively flat in Asheville over the last four quarters, with an average gain of 0.2 percent. Graphic courtesy of Johnson Price Sprinkle PA

Local business news in brief from our issue of Aug. 15, 2018

Perhaps your business needs startup capital to make your idea fly. Or maybe rubbing elbows with lawmakers will give you an edge. Opportunities for building business skills, attracting investment and developing business relationships abound in WNC throughout the late summer and into the fall, and our business news in brief will keep you in the know.

Trinity United Methodist Church meeting

West Asheville needle exchange, free café raise community complaints

Some say The Steady Collective, Firestorm Books and Coffee, Kairos West Community Center and 12 Baskets Café have reduced the area’s safety by offering services to drug users and homeless clients. The Asheville Police Department has claimed that the number of complaints filed in the neighborhood — including drug use, trespassing and syringes discarded on a nearby playground — have risen dramatically in recent months.

FOR THE TAKING: Michael Harney, prevention educator with the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville, stands beside a cabinet containing injection supplies at the Western North Carolina AIDS Project headquarters in Asheville. Providing clean needles to drug users helps reduce bloodborne infections and the transmission of diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Photo by David Floyd

Buncombe County considers needle exchange program

Two local agencies, the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville and The Steady Collective, provide clean needles and other supplies to help reduce the negative health effects of habitual drug use in Western North Carolina. Now Buncombe County is considering starting a program of its own to combat an increase in diseases transmitted by reusing and sharing needles.

THE LONGEST DAY: Adult day programs provide social opportunities and recreation for seniors and people with disabilities who can't be left alone during the day. But with state funding for these programs stagnant for the last decade, many rural communities struggle to provide the service. When the programs close — as could happen at the Heritage Adult Day Retreat in Burnsville — families are left with few options for respite care.

Yancey County adult day care illuminate­s concerns for aging population

Family members who depend on Heritage Adult Day Retreat in Burnsville to provide a safe, stimulating daytime environment for loved ones with disabilities and dementia face a potential interruption or closure of the resource. With state funding for adult day care flat and the need continuing to grow, 40 similar programs have closed across the state since 2007.

FROM MANY, ONE: The deft fingers of Soce Ahmed, left, fashion intricate weaves and braiding patterns that are clean, tight and eye-catching. In her little shop on Eagle Street, she has served all sorts of folks over the past 18 years, including Gelisa Madden, right. And she’s built a community for herself through her work. Photo by Joe Pellegrino

Asheville hairstylin­g brings people together and sets them apart

When it comes to hair, Asheville is “anything goes,” says Jami Redlinger, Best of WNC Hall of Famer for Hairstylist and co-owner of The Middy. But beneath that diversity, she explains, is a unifying theme: self-expression. “I feel like there’s a lot of really creative people here, so people want to get really creative with their hair, too.”