Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

GOOD JOB!/NEEDS WORK ... Jet engine plant comes in for a landing

Good job! Matt Matteson chronicled in detail in the Jan. 6 issue how industry recruiters from across the region, the North Carolina Commerce Department and Biltmore Farms owner Jack Cecil combined forces to land the Pratt & Whitney advanced manufacturing plant — a $650 million investment that will result in a 1-million-square-foot plant and 800 jobs paying $68,000 a year.

The plant is seen as the anchor facility in the 1,000-acre Biltmore West industrial park — what Cecil called a “lighthouse of innovation” shining the way for more business and more high-paying jobs. “This is the largest industrial economic development project in Western North Carolina that we are aware of,” David Rhoades, communications director of the state Department of Commerce, told the Lightning. “Due to the multiplier effect, our economists have projected that the project will grow to a $7.4 billion economic impact in 12 years.” The Golden Leaf Foundation and community colleges in Hendersonville and Asheville also were partners on the team that landed one of the region’s biggest economic development catches in recent decades. The partnership’s incentives add up to $62 million and include a bridge over the French Broad River. We predict years from now, everyone will recognize the largesse as a wise investment.

Needs work … The Henderson County Board of Commissioners stumbled out of the gate at the end of last year when it twice booted a decision on hiring a planning consultant to guide the drafting of a new comprehensive land-use plan. Few decisions are as important as the comp plan rewrite — a countywide policy designed to guide development through 2045. The plan “will have a profound impact on the future living conditions for our county citizens,” Bill Lapsley, newly elected as chair of the Board of Commissioners, said last month. “This is a big deal, a really big deal from my perspective.” Commissioners can’t agree, however, on which consulting firm to hire to compile the data, gather public input and draft a plan. A team made up of county planners and department heads spent months reviewing the proposals from seven candidates. Commissioners looked at the recommended choice for the job and said, well, Needs work! They sent the planning staff back for a redo. Here’s hoping that a fitful start does not portend the process going forward.

Good job! For years we have advocated greater openness in the process to fill key executive positions in government — whether it’s a school superintendent, town manager or police chief. The School Board, county commissioners and city councils have generally disregarded our calls for transparency. They’ve conducted searches, vetted candidates, completed closed-door interviews and made final decisions, then publicly announced the outcome. Given that common practice, we were delighted to see that the Hendersonville City Council announced the two finalists for city police chief then scheduled an opportunity for the press and the public to ask questions. That kind of transparency is a good way to encourage the community’s support for big hiring decisions that affect day-to-day lives of the citizenry.