Letter: More info needed as aerospace plant proceeds

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I have some thoughts regarding Buncombe County’s new business, Pratt & Whitney, a part of the Raytheon megafamily, one of the top defense contractors in our country.


But to be truthful, I’m worried. Thank you for promising average salaries of $68,000 a year. Thank you for being concerned about the gray bats, on whose behalf preparation for your new facility was rushed, so as not to disturb their habitats. You’re off to a good start.

Some of us are concerned, however, that we never knew whom this new manufacturer would be. All some of us knew was that Biltmore Farms was recruiting a blue-ribbon employer to the area. Great news for a community tired of tourism-related service jobs.

Most of us who value the uniqueness and beauty of our area didn’t even know that the floor was open for comments regarding a permit to build a five-lane bridge across the French Broad River, already under stress from contaminants in its historic waterway.

Many wonder why this new million-square-foot plant with more than 600 parking places had to locate on the grounds where Asheville forefathers George Vanderbilt, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and forester Gifford Pinchot combined forces to create a synergy that has since attracted millions to marvel at their creation and preservation.

Since their time, much of that land has welcomed the Blue Ridge Parkway, the North Carolina Arboretum and Bent Creek River Park. I would never have guessed that Biltmore Farms would develop 100 acres in this vicinity for a company that will build a massive aerospace-parts facility.

I doubt very much that activists in our area were notified of the comment period regarding the proposed bridge.

Now I have just two requests: 1. Please let the people of WNC know when additional comments will be accepted for new permit requests as the process moves on; 2. please don’t make this facility a place where equipment that is used kill people in other countries is manufactured.

So, welcome to Asheville. May we be neighbors who value building peace in this troubled world.

— Rachael Bliss


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27 thoughts on “Letter: More info needed as aerospace plant proceeds

  1. bsummers

    please don’t make this facility a place where equipment that is used kill people in other countries is manufactured

    OK, sure thing.


    The B-52 bombers, the F-15, F-16, F-22, and F-35 fighter jets, and the Apache and Black Hawk attack helicopters all use Pratt & Whitney engines. Just try not to think about it.

    The Saudis are gonna get the F-35. They never hurt anyone, right?

    • C-Law

      Correct Barry.

      You’re so close to putting this together, but not sure if you can mentally cross the finish line.

      The Yankee Empire is controlled by the military-industrial complex, the globalist-corporate-finance elite, and the technocrat bureaucracy.

      The 2-party system is an illusion. There is one UniParty, controlled by the above.

      You come across in your posts as such a partisan Democrat, but there is no hope there as there is none from the Republicans either.

      Free your mind Barry. We both want clean air and water. Freedom to live our lives without undue interference.

      If we drop the partisan charade maybe we could devolve power to a state and local paradigm…a constitutional libertarian republic, not a whatever this current empire pretends to be.

      It’s probably far too late for that, but aren’t we all tired of being neo-feudal serfs bound out to our Empire and it’s controllers yet!?

      • Linda r

        This letter concerned the new Pratt and Whitney facility- why attack a commenter using a political base? You insulted a person for no reason with all your extreme terms which are not at all impressive.

        • Lou

          It’s all these terrified entitled superior children know. And yes, I said children because for goddess sake, my three year old has better reasoning and critical thinking skills. These old guys just need to hear themselves talk. Sad.

          • GoPW

            Such a factory has existed around 20 miles east of Asheville for over 50 years and no terrorist attacks yet! This type of business is and will remain a reality so accept it. The Utopian world doesn’t exist but the need for engines, missile components, armaments exist and is actually darned good business for the area. Any manufacturing business which provides a living wage, insurance and a sense of accomplishment at a job well done is welcome.

  2. Bright

    The reason most of us weren’t informed of what the new “business” would be is because the secretive ways aville operates. Sure…who’d want to know about a weapons manufacturer here in our “lovely town?” Keep it a secret…lol

    • Rachael Bliss

      I kinda feel that way, too. We all have to leave comments with Buncombe County Commission for their Nov 17 meeting. No incentives to a company that pays less percentage in federal and state taxes than us, the residents who live here.

    • Enlightened Enigma

      Biltmore Farms owns the land and they preferred to operate in their world NOT yours/ours…they have EVERY right to keep their business
      operations to themselves, but just think about the revenue … guessing they are leasing the land to PandW for long term…perpetual real money income!

      • luther blissett

        The announcement said that Biltmore Farms sold the land for a nominal $1 while P&W covers the excise taxes of the transaction, so it’s not a lease. It’s presumably done that way to offset future financial liabilities.

  3. Michael Morgan

    Armament factories become prime targets in wartime. &/or terrorists’ targets. Putting an armament factory here is definitely putting this area in the crosshairs. And it doesn’t have to be a major operation like the Boeing plant in WA(?). If it’s a crucial ‘part’ of the weapons’ / planes’ operational system that makes the factory an even more “high-value-target.”

  4. Michael Morgan

    If the only way we can “make a living” is by building war equipment, then we need to seriously re-think our economy and long term goals. And perhaps most importantly, our moral standards.

  5. Rachael Bliss

    Please comment to Buncombe County Commission to deny $47 million and land in incentives to this company that already pays less percentage-wise than most of us who live here.

    • Linda R

      Instead of attempting to sabotage this welcome addition to the employment possibilities in unconventional Co, how about thanking the reps from Biltmore Estate for their massive attempt to move from the high percentage of hospitality jobs to actual well paying jobs with benefits! And by the way, there has been a defense contractor in the Valley for many years- haven’t blown anyone up yet.

    • Rachael Bliss

      This isn’t the Estate. This is Biltmore Farms, LLC. Land owners eager to develop.

  6. Local Grandad

    Lots of valid reasons to dislike incentives. However. A $650,000,000 plant will generate $3-4,000,000 per year in new property taxes collected by Buncombe County. That’s good math, and good for County Services.

  7. indy499

    Great addition to the community. These are the kind of jobs that actually pay taxes to the state, county and city.

    Oh, and letter writer, is there some special “activists” list that is supposed to get sneak previews?

    • L rice

      Welcome to Pratt and Whitney and thank you for choosing Asheville area. Well paying jobs with benefits are desperately needed because the hospitality jobs do not generally pay enough to support a family.
      Why would it be necessary to advise ‘activist’ groups? Haven’t residents of Asheville area had their fill of activists they last few months? This is business and an opportunity for residents to work for a decent wage and build a future.

      • Lou

        Which residents are you referring to dear? The wealthy white majority? I for one am SICK and TIRED of hearing from that crowd, who have NO idea what it’s like to struggle or if they ever did, don’t remember. It’s all about them.

  8. GreyCoupe

    Personal opinion and private enterprise seem to be colliding here. There are a dozen perfectly honest reasons for competitive companies to be silent until such a deal is done. All of us are entitled to an opinion, but upon last check, the entire field of building commercial or military aviation equipment in the United States was still a highly respected and perfectly legal and thriving endeavor in the US. Folks, we’ve won a blue chip company in one of few big U.S. industries not already exported or owned multinationally. In a word, Hooray!
    We in Buncombe and WNX should warmly embrace and do our best to hang onto ANY legal business, job-bringing endeavor with effusive applause and sincere gratitude. And such naive foolishness impugns the corporate integrity of Pratt & Whitney and the gravity of need in Buncombe/WNC: Choose not to ride in P&W- engined aircraft if you choose, but don’t deny your neighbor a job.
    The inevitable economic realities all Americans now face because of the financial hardship of massive COVID-grown debt have not crystallized for everyone. In 5 years remembering the mere idea of saying no to a legal, respectable, successful American company considering bringing hundreds of good paying local jobs will be laughable.
    Pratt & Whitney’s recently announced decision merits a sure-nuff ticker tape up Patton Avenue and celebration throughout WNC! Think about it. Pratt and Whitney could have gone anywhere… Ask any mayor or county commissioner you know.

  9. Rachael Bliss

    The incentives will include the waiving of property taxes for a number of years. The taxes will come from those, the normal tax payers who make salaries. Why don’t we recruit manufacturers who don’t survive on weapons manufacturing?

    • Enlightened Enigma

      yeah Rachael…we want you to start recruiting industry to the area….which ones do YOU have in mind?
      Specific companies ? Who’s YOUR favorites ? What kind of job do YOU have ?

    • Linda r

      Property taxes may be waived for the facility but remember the hundreds of jobs created and the money going into the county because these people are employed. It is really a win- win situation.
      As for recruiting other manufacturing companies- when has Asheville or Buncombe attempted to recruit anything other than tourism related businesses?
      Again, thank Pratt & Whitney for choosing this area because they could locate anyplace.

      • Rachael Bliss

        I lived in a community that was run by manufacturing. It’s not pleasant if you’re not part of the company. They pollute. They take position on local commissions. Pretty soon you live in a dirty company town that runs the city. Then out of nowhere they up and leave you with brown fields and empty warehouses. Famous city planned suggested to Asheville leaders long ago to make our city clean and a pleasant place to visit, to not rely on manufacturing, which adds little of beauty to a city. When I lived in Kingsport, I so admired Asheville because it wasn’t a company town. Look at the rust town, of Detroit where car manufacturing left the city. Tourism can be improved on by redirecting hotel taxes to human needs. I lived for more than 30 years in a city heavily reliant on manufacturing. It’s not pretty, and it stinks. Plus this manufacturer relies on products heavily reliant on fossil fuels, and their products blow up people. Not something I would want to be a part of.

  10. Cynthia Heil

    I have concerns about the Pratt-Whitney/Raytheon defense plant. I worked in the Navy’s base closure ofc during the 90s. Take a look at that history and what an environmental nightmare is left behind by the military-industrial complex. Many of those bases could not be cleaned and dangerous substances, incl radio-active, were just buried. How will residents surrounding this project be affected? What toxins will likely leach into our ground water from this plant? Will we be given an opportunity to comment as I don’t think we were even told what was coming prior to the official announcement? I am quite aware of the jobs, revenue, etc., benefits, but at what cost to our health and our beautiful environment here? What exactly will be manufactured? Hopefully not more materiel for the DoD war machine. How about we bring in sustainable industries and use the financial breaks being given up for this to strengthen our local businesses?

    • Linda r

      Seriously? This is a business arrangement between Biltmore Estate and Pratt & Whitney. Does any actually think the Biltmore reps will not take proper precautions to inspect and assure the environment is not damaged? Remember Northrop America on BeeTree Road? Beacon? Lustar Dyeing & Finishing?
      I could name others, some still operating, who left nearly irreparable damage because information on contamination was either not known or not shared. This is a modern company which has high goals both in the business world and the areas where their facilities are located. They are trustworthy.
      As I stated before, no one has attempted to recruit manufacturing operations to Buncombe county; not city or county government and certainly not the infamous Governor.
      Our once beautiful city of Asheville has been stained by hotels, motels, protests, plywood on windows downtown. Small businesses closed due to constant shut down by Governor.
      And yet there are those who “ want a voice” in an incoming business which will benefit the area. Use your voice to halt the destruction of Asheville and perhaps attract more businesses.
      In order to support the U.S. military, munitions must be supplied and defense contractors must have proper facilities. I have confidence Pratt and Whitney will respect the environment, city, and employees.

  11. bsummers

    Well, if you like to look at it this way, Saudi and United Arab Emirates (equipped with jets powered by engines made in Asheville), will end the war in Yemen faster… by killing everyone in their way.

    Human Rights Watch has documented at least 90 apparently unlawful Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, including deadly attacks on Yemeni fishing boats that have killed dozens and appeared to be deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects in violation of the laws of war. At time of writing, according to the Yemen Data Project, the Saudi-led coalition has conducted more than 20,100 airstrikes on Yemen since the war began, an average of 12 attacks a day. The coalition has bombed hospitals, school buses, markets, mosques, farms, bridges, factories, and detention centers.

    Fishing boats. What kind of a-hole shoots up a fishing boat?

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