Buncombe County Commissioners: It’s the economy, stupid? ***UPDATED***

During tonight’s Dec. 7 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to:

• Approve the allocation of $99.74 million in federal stimulus loans to Ingles Markets. The money will be used to build a new 830,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in Black Mountain and a new 80-100,000-square-foot grocery store located at 153 Smokey Park Highway in Asheville. Commissioners stressed that the loans don’t require any county or state money and celebrated the estimated 190 jobs that the expansions will create. Commissioner Holly Jones also expressed gratitude that the new developments will contribute to the county’s tax base.

• Create an Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County that will be charged with creating jobs in the area. Commissioner K. Ray Bailey will serve as its chairman.

• Approve a rezoning request to allow commercial development on a 1.39 acre parcel located at 872 New Leicester Highway. Landowner David Ray said he has a tentative deal with a retail outlet that wants to build on the land.

• Elect Vice Chair Bill Stanley for a third term as Vice Chair and designate him as the county’s representative at the upcoming NC Legislative Goals Conference.

• Amend the county’s animal control ordinance to require pet owners to apply for an “unaltered animal permit” if they chose not to have their animal spayed or neutered.

Here’s the preview of the meeting with more info on the agenda items:

At its Dec. 7 meeting, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners plans to take action on several fronts that are intended help stimulate the local economy. The agenda includes a public hearing on approving $99.74 million in federal stimulus loans to Ingles Markets, creating a new economic development coalition, and considering a rezoning request to allow for commercial development on a parcel of land along New Leicester Highway.

Ingles hopes to use the money to cover the costs of building and equipping a new 830,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center at its current headquarters in Black Mountain, as well as a new 80-100,000-square-foot grocery store located at 153 Smokey Park Highway in Asheville. The expansions are projected to create about 190 jobs. Ingles currently operates 202 stores throughout the region and boasted a 63 percent jump in its fourth-quarter profits, according to a Nov. 30 report.

The goal of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC) would be to stimulate private sector investment, economic growth and job creation. Once established, the proposal calls for the EDC to develop strategies to encourage manufacturing and other businesses to relocate to Buncombe County as well as determine what the ten biggest challenges are to economic growth in the area. The EDC board would consist of 17 members who are appointed by a wide variety of organizations including the County Commissioners, Asheville City Council, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Asheville Regional Airport Authority and the Manufacturers’ Executive Association.

The rezoning request concerns a 1.39 acre parcel located at 872 New Leicester Highway, just south of the intersection of Silverling Drive. The change from residential to neighborhood service district would allow for commercial development; both the Planning Board and county staff recommend approving the request.

In other business, the board will elect its Vice Chair. The position is largely symbolic, with the office holder responsible for overseeing meetings when the Board Chair is absent. The election is held annually; Bill Stanley has served in the position for the last two years.

The board will meet at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 7, in the commissioner’s chambers, located at 30 Valley St. A short pre-meeting review of the agenda will begin at 4:15 p.m.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

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10 thoughts on “Buncombe County Commissioners: It’s the economy, stupid? ***UPDATED***

  1. LOKEL

    99.7 MILLION DOLLARS for INGLES!!!!!!!

    Just last week it was reported that the profits for this company were up 63% over last year.

    If their profits are up 63% why in the name of Elmer do they need 99.7 MILLION dollars of taxpayer money!

  2. dave

    wow. totally disheartening. 100 mil to stimulate an already thriving business, create a few quickie jobs. now that’s stimulus.

  3. nathan ramsey

    This is not a give a way, it is a loan. Ingles Markets is investing around $100M of their money into our community and they are taking advantage of a federal program that offers a lower interest rate. Probably the federal government should not be involved in making below market loans to private companies but since they are, why shouldn’t a local company take advantage of the program? Ingles Markets is creating 160 jobs and investing $100M, that is good for everyone in in this community. We just need more companies doing the same to get us out of this hole.

  4. e. c.

    COMMISSIONERS!!!!!!PLEASE get your heads out of those holes in the ground, wherever they might be, and LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE! I suggest that you concentrate on watching what’s going on all around you, instead of making “connections”, if that is what you are all doing. Ingles needs 99.74 mil of our money like a hole in the head!! Oh, and 190 jobs will be created in another warehouse….lets do the math… wouldnt you just love to have one of those jobs!!!! Listen up!!! Have you even bothered to notice the wishes of our people in the Nov. elections, nationwide!!!!

  5. who

    Hurray for the economic developemnt commission! Let’s get some industry and jobs here!

  6. Avl Tao

    The byline is “It’s the economy, stupid?”, a leftover sound bite from the 1992 elections.
    18 years later, I have to wonder if the new version should be: “Don’t stay stupid about the economy”, especially for mainstream journalism because it’s a field that whose inabilities are embarrassingly public with regards to writing about how jobs are created, wages maintained, and the economy operates or misfires.
    All day, journalists at big and small publications get bombarded with AP dispatches, wires, and tweets, about the economy; many journalists have no background for figuring it all out so they parrot comfortable cliches, they recite press releases verbatim, they avoid critical thinking or independent research.
    Thus we get this: a verbatim account on a $100M ‘loan’ to Ingles with no mention of (let alone analysis of) loan terms or collateral. No asking of who will verify Ingles claims that they met the job creation requirements? How are they measured? What are the penalties for not meeting them?
    And that’s the easiest part for journalists, that’s all simply questioning and digging.

    It admittedly is harder to critically think about these things…but such thinking starts with digging and querying.
    In the big picture, journalists do ponder why jobs are not created, yet too many journalists fail to see how answers are close at hand if they only had the courage to explore what’s happening to the newspapers that employ them. Follow the money: why are ad revenues down? Who was affording ads in the past, how, and what did they pay? Where did past ad buyers get their money? What happens when papers lay off staff? What’s the ripple effect? What’s the connection between weak reporting on this and the reporting on the larger economy?

    It takes time, solid exploration, and a strong stomach, but after a while certain money trends and job truths will emerge from the mound of clichés, parroting and befuddlement that traps mainstream journalism. It won’t emerge overnight, however.

    Had the Xpress started being serious about quality journalism on money, jobs & the economy, back in 2007, by now, three years down the road in 2010, they’d be able to produce a better product for their marketplace of readers.

  7. mule

    “Ingles Markets is creating 160 jobs and investing $100M, that is good for everyone in in this community.”

    Except for the 160 poor saps that end up working for Ingles slave wages.

  8. dave

    jobs . . . instead of creating a band aid, let’s put money to a real long term solution and invest in people. Give Mountain Area Job Link a big grant, they can train, re-train, place, hire people themselves, etc … How about pumping some cash to our local small business development center. How about a local scholarship program to transition careers, receive some training at AB Tech. 5mil here and there to these programs would create far more jobs and have a lasting impact on people, families and WNC in general. These groups are so used to working on shoe string budgets, it would be great to bump them significantly. Ingles can get a loan elsewhere, I am sure. Vision.

  9. John

    @Dave: Amen, brother. Small businesses that grow into larger businesses create far more jobs at higher wages than any large corporation ever would. $99 million in loan guarantees to a place like Mountain BizWorks would have a much farther reaching effect.

  10. Margaret Williams

    Avl Tao: Worthy questions & points. This post simply picks up where our preview post left off and summarizes the meeting. Stay tuned for the full, in-print article and our ongoing coverage of local economic issues.

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