Letter: Public was sold out on Raytheon deal

Graphic by Lori Deaton

[On Nov. 17], the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the siting of an aerospace manufacturing facility on undeveloped forestland near Biltmore Park. Commissioners saw this as an economic boon to our community, as it will bring in an estimated 800 well-paying jobs. They even agreed to give Pratt & Whitney a $27 million tax incentive to locate here.

At the meeting, commissioners asked no questions of the P&W representative. During the public comment period, over [20] speakers called in, all but [one] opposed the agreement for a variety of reasons, both humanitarian and environmental.

Pratt & Whitney is a division of Raytheon Technologies, the third-largest military contractor in the world. Raytheon is the world’s top manufacturer of guided missiles and a leader in missile defense systems. In 2017, its sales were $23.9 billion. Its portfolio includes the Patriot missile system (www.cnbc.com). Raytheon has profited from selling military hardware to Saudi Arabia, which has been engaged in a bombardment of the country of Yemen that is so brutal, it is considered the most severe humanitarian crisis in the world.

No questions were asked by the commissioners about how P&W products are used or their effects. No questions or information were given on the environmental effects on our local land, air and water of locating such a plant here. In fact, the representative was painting a picture that P&W was a “green” company. P&W plant sites in Connecticut and Florida have created toxic waste sites.

Apparently, this deal has been in the works for 15 months, but the public only learned of it in the last few weeks. The public comment period ultimately proved to be a charade, as our comments of concern did not motivate any of the commissioners to ask the P&W representative to address them. Clearly, this was a done deal, and the public was only let in on it after the decision was made. The unanimous vote confirmed that for me. Three commissioners stated that they had twinges of conscience about approving this deal with a leader in the U.S. war machine but felt the benefits to our area superseded those concerns.

As a citizen of this area for over 43 years and a lifelong justice and peace advocate, I believe we have been sold out, perhaps similarly to how Judas sold out Jesus for a “few pieces of silver.”

There are other options for providing economic betterment to the people of our region, ones that are not complicit in death and destruction. That tax incentive could have been used to bring industries to our area that are truly green and sustainable. But alas, Raytheon got here first.

— Anne Craig


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Public was sold out on Raytheon deal

  1. Rachael Bliss

    You are so right, Anne! Our leaders and developers should have known their citizens wouldn’t stand for this. We want to protect our people here and be occupied with jobs that we can be proud of, not ashamed of.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    the land was a gift, or long term lease, and the location attractive, plus $27 million from the taxpayers for 800+ new good jobs? sorry but whas not to like ?

    • indy499

      Your depiction of the $27 million isn’t enlightened. If Raytheon weren’t to do the project, there is no 27 million for us to get back. Property tax waivers on high value jobs is the norm. You can not play and have crap jobs which of course does have the advantage of giving folks something to complain about.

  3. James

    “There are other options for providing economic betterment to the people of our region”

    Name them please. And then tell me which of those are in the running to relocate to BunCo.

    A wish list is one thing. The commissioners can only approve or reject what is presented to them. I think they have made a decision to try and provide some betterment to the community with what they have been offered.

  4. kw

    Wealthy people live here. Wealthy people keep moving here. Restaurants and bars are busy. Look at all the flashy cars people own and all the leisure they have to buy overpriced beer. Lawyers making $300/hour. City and tourism folks earning $250K/year. So much money flowing through our area and so many want to live here, so what are we missing? Are funds being mismanaged? Why is Asheville so hard up for cash?

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