On Dec. 16, a small group of local citizens representing Reject Raytheon AVL went to the Biltmore Farms LLC office in Biltmore Park. We delivered a letter signed by 40 of us asking CEO Jack Cecil for a meeting to discuss his plans for the development of 900 of his privately held acres.
Our understanding is that he has been working with the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce to follow up the recent establishment of the Pratt & Whitney plant with a full-fledged aerospace industrial park.
In this day and age, the aerospace industry is an integral part of the military-industrial complex, heavily fueling the climate emergency and making enormous profits from the business of war.
Reject Raytheon AVL finds these plans completely antithetical to the idea of working toward a peaceful, just and sustainable future for our children and grandchildren. It is this that we want to discuss with Mr. Cecil. This was our third attempt to have a meeting with him about it.
In our letter, we listed the following nine principles we have formulated for local land use devoted to economic development in Western North Carolina:
1. Commit to just, equitable and sustainable development that prioritizes the needs of communities of color and other historically marginalized and disenfranchised people.
2. Mitigate the climate emergency.
3. Protect the Earth by exceeding the state environmental protections regarding water, air and soil quality, and maintaining green spaces.
4. Oppose recruitment of and investment in war or fossil fuel corporations.
5. Invest public money equitably in local and regional businesses, not multinational corporations.
6. Generate jobs with a living wage that guarantee workers’ right to organize.
7. Focus on essential community needs, such as deeply affordable housing, health care, education, social services, infrastructure and renewable energy.
8. Hold new industries accountable to the community by requiring contributions to essential community needs in exchange for tax incentives.
9. Make no secret deals — engage the public in meaningful and transparent decision making from the very beginning of the economic development process.
Once again, we have received no response from Mr. Cecil. It is time for a wider community discussion about this. If interested in having this discussion, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ken Jones
Editor’s note: Xpress reached out to Jack Cecil with a summary of the letter writer’s points but did not receive a response.