TIDAL WAVE: Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. With nearly half of local businesses owned by baby-boomers, economic analysts are working to draw attention to the impending mass retirements of these owners, while others advocate alternative succession plans, like employee cooperatives. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads.

Passing the torch: What happens when local business owners retire?

With 45 percent of business owners in Buncombe County alone facing retirement in the next decade, local groups and service providers are encouraging them to start planning for their company’s next chapter, while simultaneously devising ways to turn an impending crisis into an opportunity for employees to shoulder new responsibilities.

ROCK STARS: For 70 years, the Mineral Research Laboratory in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood has worked with mining companies around the world to come up with efficient ways to harvest and process minerals, as well as educate the public on North Carolina’s mineral resources. Utilizing its unique pilot plant (above), the lab has the capability to provide data on the cost and scale of operations for companies to use in commercial enterprises. Photo by Max Hunt

Minerals Research Lab cooks up cutting-edge solutions

For 70 years, the Minerals Research Laboratory on Coxe Avenue has collaborated with mining companies and educational institutions to develop more efficient processes for extracting the state’s mineral resources as well as ways to reuse potentially harmful byproducts.

FULL HOUSE: The 35th annual Prayer Breakfast drew over 1,000 attendees. Another big crowd is expected at this year's event, which will take place on Saturday, Jan. 14 at the Crowne Plaza Resort. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Asheville events celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Asheville will celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a number of community events. The annual Prayer Breakfast, now in its 36th year and one of the country’s oldest such events, expects to draw a big crowd. The breakfast’s founder, Oralene Graves Simmons, says, “It is a time to stand up, speak out and unfold the dream.”

Rodger Payne

From difference to diversity: The many faces of faith in Asheville

“The most significant change in the course, though, was shifting our approach to the study of religion from ‘difference’ to ‘diversity.’ Instead of ‘othering’ the religions we studied, diversity allowed us to examine the societal benefits — and inevitable tensions — created by the public presence of multiple religions.”

GLIMPSE OF THE PAST: In anticipation of North Carolina’s centennial exhibit on the state’s involvement in World War I, which opens next April, the Department of Cultural and Natural Resource’s Western Office in Asheville is currently hosting an exhibit on WNC’s local heroes and experiences during the “Great War.” Photo by Max Hunt

In the trenches: Research explores WNC’s role in World War I

Though the battles were fought half a world away, WWI had a profound and lasting impact on Western North Carolina. As the state gears up for a big centennial retrospective on North Carolina’s involvement in the Great War, local researchers have worked to bring WNC residents’ stories and experiences to contemporary audiences.