A congregation of contractors, factory managers and developers seldom comes to the conclusion that the state Department of Transportation is a friend to economic development.
Yet that's what happened last week when the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development gave DOT division 14 engineer Ed Green and district engineer Steve Cannon its Partners of the Year award.
The state agency is often regarded as bloated and unresponsive, outgoing Partnership chairman Chip Gould said.
"But we've had a different experience with the individuals in our area," he said.
The top engineers who work with Henderson County "have been good listeners, good at seeing their projects through, good communicators and good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars."
Gould credited the DOT with working on a variety of projects that helped industries expand or locate in the county, including curb cuts, new traffic lights, easements and a rail spur.
"We consider Division 14 to be a vital partner," he said.
The annual event was held at Oriole Mill, which makes jacquard-woven fabric in a 72,000-square-foot building in Green Meadows.
Tony Almeida, Gov. Pat McCrory's senior adviser for jobs and the economy, told the Partnership supporters that the governor and Legislature had made strides in making North Carolina more competitive by enacting unemployment insurance reform, regulation reviews and tax reform.
The chairman's award for work on behalf of the Partnership went to Pete Szelwach, plant manager of Clement Pappas, a juice bottler in Mountain Home Industrial Park that employs 160 workers.
Sponsors of the dinner were Asheville Savings Bank, Blue Ridge Community College, Continental, Cooper Construction, Duke Energy, First Citizens Bank, Friday Staffing, GE Lighting Solutions, PSNC Energy and the Van Winkle Law Firm.