In celebration of [the recent] Asheville Small Business Week, I’d like to highlight a local, small-business industry that actually generates jobs and millions of revenue for Asheville and Buncombe County.
The early care and education industry in Buncombe County is critical to our economy, with 115 early care and education programs generating significant revenue and employing over 700 people. The industry serves as a critical support for working families, including the 9,378 (or 59 percent) children under age 6 whose sole parent or both parents work.
When most people hear the words child care, they think of playtime and fun. And perhaps, when they hear early education, the importance of brain development comes to mind. But child care and early education programs aren’t just about nurturing children — they also nurture our local Buncombe County economy.
In addition to providing a vital service to children and families, early care and education is an important industry in its own right, an industry composed of many small businesses that purchase goods and services from local businesses, create jobs and support working parents.
Our local businesses rely on quality child care — many can’t do their job without it. Without safe, affordable options to care for their young children, parents may leave their jobs, which costs businesses in recruitment, retraining and the loss of skilled workers. Child care is a critical support service for the current workforce and business community. As a result, employees are more productive and reliable.
The child care industry also reduces job absenteeism costs. Nationally, more than one-fifth of all unscheduled absences from work are due to family issues, costing businesses money and productivity. Absences due to family issues cost the North Carolina economy about $2.75 billion annually.
So, please, make sure you celebrate and give recognition to the many invaluable small businesses in Asheville and Buncombe County. …
For more information, visit www.BuncombePFC.org.
— Amy Barry
Executive Director, Buncombe Partnership for Children