Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Legislative Update: Chamber advocates for preserving municipal funding

The Chamber advocated for preserving current municipal funding levels for Asheville/Buncombe County last week at the North Carolina General Assembly House Finance Committee meeting.

Two weeks ago the Senate rolled out their budget, which included policy to change the method by which sales tax is distributed around the state.  Generally speaking, under current law 80% of sales tax collected from the purchase remains in the county of the point of sale with 20% being distributed around the state on a per-capita basis.

The new Senate proposal would change this formula over four years such that 80% of the collected tax would be distributed around the state on a population basis with 20% remaining at the point of sale.  This would create major problems for all the municipalities of Buncombe County with revenue projected to decrease by more than 10% over five years (since the Senate’s financial projections use the same assumptions state wide, this number could actually be larger depending on what Buncombe’s actual numbers turn out to be).  Due to the county being a regional center for jobs (did you know that only 58% of Buncombe’s workers live in the county?) and the high level of tourism spending, the county experiences high revenue levels relative to its population.  Under the Senate’s proposal, a majority of sales tax revenue collected would leave the county and would thus not be available to pay for needed items such as infrastructure improvements, maintenance and other services needed to support the high number of visitors and workers that the county and city experience. 

During the House Finance Committee meeting, the Chamber was recognized for its participation and support of the House’s desire to have the Senate’s sale tax redistribution proposal removed and other funding mechanisms considered.  The Chamber’s Public Policy department attended the hearing and other meetings with elected officials with the Mayor of Asheville and other City staff. 

The Chamber commends the Senate for working to address funding disparities among North Carolina counties.  However, we encourage them to find a way to better fund the state’s rural areas without devastating the economic engines and job centers of our state.  The Chamber is now working with the other adversely affected areas of the state to build a coalition and encourage the NC General Assembly to find a better way to address funding needs around the state.

Sports Commission to partner with 2015 Asheville YogaFest - July 10-12

Yoga is a big part of our culture here in Asheville. To honor this, Asheville YogaFest, was
born in 2014 and exceeded all expectations. Now in its second year Asheville YogaFest is
returning with expanded offerings this July 10, 11 and 12 at the Morris Hellenic Cultural
Center in the Montford neighborhood.

Asheville has long been viewed as a yoga centric community with studios opening here
over 35 years ago, far before its popularity of today. Asheville’s studios and instructors
train over 750 yoga teachers each year. Asheville currently features more than a dozen
yoga studios that are thriving.

Asheville YogaFest 2015, will feature three full days of asana workshops with fourteen
local teachers and both national and local kirtan bands will delight festival attendees. The
2015 Festival will also feature Out of the Blue food truck, a Vendor Village, Yoga
Photography, Thai Massage and a Yogi Dance Party. Local charities Homeward Bound and
Trips for Kids will be conducting collections to support their causes.

Teachers for the event are an all-star cast. Each will present a two hour workshop for their
fans and followers; including Joe Taft, Michael and Stephanie Johnson, Cindy Dollar, Dr.
Saraswati Markus, Cat Matlock, Lewis Rothlein, Lindsay Fields, Leaflin Winecoff, Denise
Daneck. Mado Hesselink Biddle, Allison Lindquist, Rich Fabio and Sean Johnson.

Festival attendees will also have the opportunity enjoy music throughout the weekend.
Friday will feature Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band from New Orleans with a kirtan.
Saturday night brings the Yogi Dance Party, with DJ Will Hamilton and Acrobatic Theater
from Bodhi Rajata. On Sunday, Osel, with Michael and Stephanie Johnson will be the finale
for Asheville YogaFest 2015, with an All Star kirtan featuring music from their four CD’s.
Concert quality sound for all events is provided by Mountain Sound Services.

Festival Director, Mike Heirs shares his excitement on the festivals return "For many years
Asheville yoga lovers tried to hold a festival worthy of our yoga culture. With good timing,
hard work and the invaluable help of our beloved teachers, we made that happen last year.
Now, we must earn longevity, as we grow Asheville YogaFest into a regional celebration.
Tickets have sold this year to yogis from New York to Florida and even one yoga teacher
from Sweden. Folks that miss the YogaFest are going to need a lot of Meditation to
overcome that loss!"

Tickets for this three-day event are available in advance for $165 with a price increase at
the door. The Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, Publix Supermarkets,
Synergy Health Solutions, Zen Tubing and other local and regional sponsors are supporting
Yogafest 2015.

For tickets, schedule and information please visit:

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nantahala Outdoor Center awards agency relationship to Element Advertising

Nantahala Outdoor Center, the nations largest provider of guided outdoor experiences, has engaged Element Advertising to promote NOCs premiere outdoor recreation and vacation products. Element Advertisings services will include media planning, strategic guidance and creative execution.

Millions of people throughout the Southeast have enjoyed an exhilarating outdoor experience with NOC, says Charles Conner, NOC marketing director. But there are millions more out there that have yet to experience the physical, mental and social benefits of human-powered outdoor recreation. Were confident that Element Advertising can help us communicate effectively with potential new guests.

Element Advertising will soon be enjoying a guided Nantahala River whitewater rafting trip and a Mountaintop Zip Line Tour with their new NOC clients. The day will help introduce Element Advertising to two of NOCs most popular products and will serve to develop an interpersonal relationship between agency and client.

The Element team is passionate about the Southeasts outdoor recreation opportunities, said Jack Becker, Elements principal brand strategist and creative director.  I cant think of a better way to mark the agencys third-year anniversary milestone than welcoming NOC as a client.

Elements media strategist, Rob Young agrees.  Nantahala Outdoor Center has a sterling reputation as one of the best outfitters in the word and is one of the most beloved tourist destinations in the Southeast.  We couldnt be more proud to include them on our client list.

OnTrack WNC offers free credit reports & score event in Brevard - July 23rd

On Thursday, July 23, 2015 from 10am-4pm, OnTrack WNC Financial Education & Counseling will team up with First Citizens Bank’s Brevard Main Office at 96 South Broad Street to offer FREE credit reports and FICO scores. This event is open to the public and no appointment is necessary.  The offer provides one free credit report and score per person. A photo ID is required for identification.

An OnTrack WNC certified credit counselor will pull credit reports/scores and conduct a confidential, mini-credit report review to explain credit report basics and identify any immediate areas for improvement. Since OnTrack WNC is a local, housing counseling, non-profit, they are able to pull the report as a “soft inquiry” and it will not impact your credit score.

“Often times it is very challenging to access credit reports online.  This event gives local residents the opportunity to easily access their credit report and receive their free FICO score,” said Sarah Brown, Associate Executive Director of OnTrack WNC.  “As part of OnTrack WNC’s Financial & Housing Counseling Program funded by United Way Transylvania County, we are excited to be partnering with First Citizens to provide this valuable service,”

Credit reports contain valuable information on borrowing and payment history that banks, credit unions, landlords, insurance companies, and others use to determine credit worthiness. The event provides the FICO credit score used in 90% of lending decisions.

Additionally, to receive a more in-depth review and action plan to help improve or build credit, residents can sign up for free, follow-up credit counseling, an ongoing service offered by OnTrack WNC in Brevard thanks to support from United Way.