Letter: Backroom deal was a bad decision

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I have lived in Buncombe County for over 30 years and believe it to be a place where caring, kind and innovative people abound. However, I was very disappointed to hear about the slimy backroom politics of the Buncombe County commissioners.

At a recent Board of Commissioners meeting, Buncombe County residents shared their concerns about the proposed Pratt & Whitney/Raytheon plant. My understanding is that only one of those speaking was in favor of the plant, and that person had a vested interest in seeing it built. Apparently a decision had already been made without the concern of residents being heard. Is that how a democracy works?

I think this is a very bad decision! North Carolina invested heavily in the tobacco industry, and farmers have paid dearly as a result of changing attitudes regarding health. Buncombe County invested heavily in the tourist industry only to have this myopic focus negatively impacted by the pandemic. Now Buncombe County is considering investing in another industry that is not sustainable. Please consider that the USSR collapsed in great part because of an overinvestment in the war industry.

I love the Biltmore House, admire the thriving business and appreciate the gift shared with us by the descendants of Vanderbilt. In my opinion, the sale of the property to be used for the building of the proposed Pratt & Whitney/Raytheon plant by Mr. Cecil of Biltmore Farms (one of Vanderbilt’s descendants) is a black mark against his family’s heritage.

— E.L. Halsey

Editor’s note: Kevin Kimrey, who spoke in favor of the incentives at the commissioners’ meeting, is the director of economic and workforce development at A-B Tech, which plans to build a $5 million training center to prepare graduates for jobs with Pratt & Whitney and other advanced manufacturing careers.

Xpress contacted Biltmore Farms with the letter writer’s points relating to the property sale and received the following response from company President and CEO Jack Cecil: “Investing in the economic growth and future prosperity of our community is critical, especially right now. Biltmore Farms made the land available for Pratt & Whitney in an effort to stimulate positive impact on employment opportunities in Buncombe and surrounding counties.

“Contributing to the economic sustainability of this region has always been a central value of our company. Day to day, we utilize our real estate to build communities (to clarify, we do not own Biltmore House), and our goal ultimately is to create jobs and business opportunities for all the people who live here. We hope that our deliberate steps will benefit the current and future generations that follow.”


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Backroom deal was a bad decision

  1. Dopamina

    Neoliberals on the council simply do not care how this looks, they tend to care about one thing first and foremost: money.

    Neoliberals sold out the American working class and gave rise to Trump. They should be run out of town with torches and pitchforks as their flexible morality (Who do I need to sell out to make a buck? Just give me the word!) is very dangerous and makes them very unpredictable.

  2. Jon King

    The letter writer apparently believes that war profiteering is not a sustainable business in the United States.

  3. Bright

    Yet another sorry statement about the seedy commission’s underhanded behavior. Secretive behavior is how the rats take more control.

  4. Tater

    Why are taxpayers now paying for a new A-B Tech training building only a short distance from the Enka campus with its unused space and with that college reportedly struggling financially and with paying for its facilities upkeep over the past few years?

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