The two rural areas in the county’s northwest and southeast emerged as the biggest pockets of need after an extensive analysis by county staff of high-speed internet availability. A contract with an internet provider to expand service could go before the Board of Commissioners in July.
“We would end up basically having to raise taxes on everyone else to fund these rebates to businesses that we understand have had a tough year, but many of which have had a great decade ahead of this year,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Brownie Newman.
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and other supporters say jobs at the aerospace manufacturing plant will provide opportunities for workers to improve their standards of living. Critics say those wages are not worth the moral cost: Bolstering a military-industrial complex that causes deaths half a world away and eats up government funds better spent on other needs.
Local restaurant owners face increasing challenges and difficult decisions as Buncombe County lowers dining room capacity to 30%.
Under a proposed economic development incentive agreement, Buncombe County taxpayers would subsidize the division of military contractor Raytheon Technologies, which made over $77 billion last fiscal year, to the tune of $27 million.
For individuals who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the fund could pay for “life-essential needs” such as utilities and mortgages. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees could receive low-interest loans of up to $10,000 to sustain operations until they could reopen or get additional support from the federal government.
Beyond recruiting new companies such as Haakon Industries and Fox Factory, the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition supported workforce development and local startups during fiscal year 2018-19. The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners learned about the return on its $350,000 EDC investment at an Aug. 20 meeting.
In a presentation at the Aug. 6 pre-meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Director of Intergovernmental Projects Tim Love said that the county misses out on roughly $1,600 of federal funding annually for every resident who goes uncounted. Buncombe is aiming to increase its census participation by roughly 10,000 residents over the 2010 effort and reach an 80% participation rate.
The county’s strategic thinking on tourism, explained Director of Intergovernmental Projects Tim Love, has focused on “the circulation of tourists to our unique, eclectic and vibrant community destinations.” That mission is driving Buncombe’s current input on the Tourism Development Authority’s Tourism Management & Investment Plan.