Asheville, NC: Business Is Growing
Businesses large and small, high-tech and high concept, are thriving – and expanding – in Asheville.
At the forefront of the city's economic growth movement is GE Aviation, which recently finalized plans to build a 125,000-square-foot advanced composite component factory. It will produce ceramic matrix composite materials for GE’s next generation jet aircraft engines.
“This is the first time we will mass produce a CMC component,” says Kelly Walsh of GE Aviation. The high-pressure turbine shroud, part of the best-selling LEAP engine, will enter service on Airbus, Boeing and COMAC planes in 2016.
“It will be the first plant in the world to mass produce CMCs for jet propulsion,” she adds. The company chose to add capacity near an existing GE plant, in part because of the “proven track record” of the local workforce and the support of local economic development groups, which make Asheville “not only a great place to work, but a great place to do business.”
TE Connectivity, another global, publicly traded corporation, is also expanding its local manufacturing operations with a $1.68 million investment. The firm is enhancing its existing facility, which produces a variety of relays and electronic switches for the company’s Aerospace, Defense and Marine business unit. And STF Precision – a leading manufacturer of cutting tools for aerospace, automotive, medical and high-tech applications – recently announced plans to spend $4.5 million to expand its manufacturing facility and add 25 new positions in engineering, production and operations.
Gourmet Coffee, Chocolate and Mustard
Food is at the center of daily life in Asheville, which features a growing number of artisan food establishments. Chocolate lovers can’t resist the truffles, caramels and brownies at French Broad Chocolates. And coffee connoisseurs should make a point to taste one of the seasonal or select coffees offered by Dynamite Roasting Company, a small batch roaster of organic, Fair Trade Certified™ coffee.
“Our first year, we roasted a few thousand pounds, and now we are roasting 100,000 pounds [a year],” says cofounder/roastmaster Andy Gibbon, who regards Asheville as his adopted hometown. “Like a lot of folks, I moved here for the mountains and lifestyle, and ended up making my home here because of the great local business culture and arts scene.”
"Asheville is an amazing place to start a business,” says Kelly Davis, owner and founder of Lusty Monk Mustard. The name of the business was inspired by a medieval order of monks who were forbidden to eat mustard because it was believed to be an aphrodisiac. “The folks here are very supportive of local businesses and have ‘spread the lust’ far and wide,” says Davis. Sales of Lusty Monk’s fresh-ground spicy mustard (original, chipotle and honey) have grown tenfold since debuting in 2007.
“The people here are fiercely loyal to local products,” says Gibbon, alluding to the success of Dynamite Roasting, Lusty Monk and other local gourmet food establishments. “It’s great to live and work in a place where people support the local economy.”
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