Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Unemployment Insurance System Failing NC Biz: We Need Your Help!

North Carolina currently has over $3 billion in unemployment insurance debt, which is owed to the federal government. This debt and the increasing tax implications will have a major impact on NC business and their bottom line. The UI debt is the most immediate challenge to our state’s job creators. 

Nov. 10 Federal Unemployment Insurance Debt Deadline > UI Taxes Going Up
On November 10, North Carolina faces the deadline to repay the federal UI loan in order to avoid additional tax penalties. As in 2011, employers will face an additional FUTA tax of .3 percent, or about $21 per employee. That means business will be hit with a tax increase on every job from 63 dollars to 84 dollars per employee! This recent Triangle Business Journal article takes a look at the impact this is having on businesses and different proposals to address the issue, including the NC Chamber UI Study.   Additionally, the Times-News in Hendersonville looked at these tax increases and reports that local businesses say that increases of this magnitude could disable the state’s economy and restrict hiring. The NC Chamber’s Vice President of Government Affairs Gary Salamido discussed the importance of a robust reemployment system in looking at a comprehensive solution. Read the Times-News article here.


ACTION ITEM – We need your support and the help of employers statewide to make significant change for North Carolina business. Join the Reemployment Coalition and lend your organization’s name to this support list if you want to stop UI waste and abuse, and see North Carolina develop a comprehensive solution to our state’s UI crisis.  Contact NC Chamber Director of Governmental Affairs Jake Cashion, at or (919) 836-1411, by Friday, November 16.

Thank you for your support; it is critical to shaping a business-driven solution!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Healthcare Forum Recap

The Chamber hosted a forum with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina to discuss and tackle the rising cost of health care in the United States, North Carolina, and specifically the Asheville Area.

The Chamber is committed to finding solutions to this problem and brought together King Prather, Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina; Lou Bissette, President, McGuire,  Wood & Bissette; Tracy Buchanan, President & CEO, Care Partners  Health Services; Dr. Marc Westle, Sr. Vice President/Chief Innovation Officer, Mission Health System; and Vicki Banks, Director Benefits and Compensation, The Biltmore Company to discuss how business should address the rising cost of healthcare.

Blue Cross Blue Shield was quick to point out the fact that 75 percent of healthcare spending is on chronic disease that is preventable by losing weight, eating right, getting more exercise, and not using tobacco. Employers have the opportunity to educate and encourage their workforce to live healthy lifestyles and combat preventable chronic disease. This is a great way to begin driving down the cost of healthcare.

Other methods identified to help keep insurance costs down were ensuring employees have chosen a physician and make regular appointments. A personal physician is much more cost effective than using an emergency room.  Employers can also help keep cost down by providing time off for employees to make medical visits, as cutting down on cancelled appointments help keep cost down.

The Chamber desires to serve as a leader and convener on health care issues. Join us for our next forum related to healthcare solutions:  Weight of the Nation:  A Community Conversation about Obesity Solutions, Thursday, January 10th from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Wilma M. Sherrill Center at UNC Asheville. 

And begin now to encourage employee wellness by aiming for a team in the Chamber Challenge 5K, scheduled for Friday, June 7th at 4:30 p.m. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

RiverLink announces 2012 RiverBusiness Awards

Each year the  RiverLink Board of Directors recognizes businesses and industries that have made significant contributions to our community and region by helping to make  the French Broad River watershed a destination where everyone is invited to live, work and play. This year the RiverLink board is delighted to recognize The Asheville Brewers Alliance, The Montford Neighborhood Association, The Self-Help Credit Union, PSNC Energy, and Sundance Solar Power & FLS Energy. 

The Asheville Brewers Alliance
The RiverLink Board of Director is proud to honor the Asheville Brewers Alliance and its members for making the greater Asheville area a destination for craft beer. ABA members include:
  • Asheville Brewing Company
  • Bruisin' Ales
  • Brews Cruise
  • Craggie Brewing Company
  • French Broad Brewing Company
  • Green Man Brewing Company
  • Highland Brewing Company
  • Lexington Avenue Brewery
  • Oyster House Brewing
  • Wedge Brewing Company
  • Southern Appalachian Brewery
  • Catawba Valley Brewing Company
  • Heinzelmannchen Brewing Company
  • Nantahala Brewing Company
  • Pisgah Brewing Company
  • MALT
  • Thirsty Monk

The ABA established Asheville as "Beer City USA" through their creativity, entrepreneurship, hard work, sophisticated brewing, and dedication to excellence of product.  The reputation and products of the greater Asheville brewing community were instrumental in gaining this national reputation and recognition for our region.  Their combined efforts and impact was also instrumental in attracting Sierra Nevada (second-largest craft brewer in the nation) and New Belgium Brewing (third-largest) to our region.  Our local brewers welcomed and partner where possible with these larger companies in an effort to make the beer scene even bigger and better for everyone. Since over 90% of their product is water, our brewing industry partners are collectively and individually the best advocates for clean water and the very best example of the economic impact that protection of our natural resources -- water in particular -- can bring to our region.

Montford Neighborhood Association
The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor The Montford Neighborhood Association for raising and donating $12,000 to RiverLink towards our $60,000 goal to help implement the greenway at the former Health Adventure site. This group of homeowners and businesses have banded together to make not just their neighborhood better but the entire greenway linkage better from the downtown to the river and the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay. The greenway will help establish another vital link in the system as well as improve an eyesore in an otherwise beautiful area, while raising property values and improving the quality of life for our entire community.

Self- Help Credit Union
The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor the Self-Help Credit Union as a lender in the emerging riverfront areas. The Board recognizes that access to capital, particularly in an emerging area, is a critical first step to sustainable development.  Self-Help participated in the construction loan from SunTrust to do the affordable housing development at the Glen Rock Project.  SunTrust was paid off by a package of financing that was just on the housing part.  Self-Help was the sole lender on the commercial part-the Glen Rock Commercial building, which offers affordable commercial space in the river district.  This project led to additional development in the River Arts District like the Pink Dog Studios, a RiverBusiness 2011 award winner.  Self-Help also invested in an early 2002 loan in the historic but then largely unknown Chicken Hill neighborhood. That project didn't work out, Self-Help didn't lose any money but they demonstrated the willingness to invest and did invest in a project in a part of the urban riverfront neighborhood called "Chicken Hill"  that was virtually unknown in 2002. 

Sundance Power Systems & FLS Energy
The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor Sundance Power Systems & FLS Energy as alternative energy leaders for our region.  Developing affordable alternative energy sources to add to the existing basket of energy alternatives is an ongoing goal of every town, city and nation. These two local companies have demonstrated their entrepreneurship and risk-taking by establishing successful solar power companies that have help fuel WNC as a destination for sustainability, alternative energy production and creativity.  The employees at FLS donate regularly to RiverLink as part of their community support and outreach program. In addition FLS has had two river locations for its business including its most recent move to the River Arts District. This past summer Sundance Power Systems took a leap of faith with RiverLink to provide solar power for our five-night concert series, RiverMUSIC.  In order to volunteer and help sponsor RiverMusic Sundance purchased backup generators and had operators and staff at each concert to ensure that the systems worked.

PSNC Energy
The RiverLink Board of Directors is pleased to honor PSNC Energy for its donation of a historic building in the heart of the River Arts District to be used as a much-needed public restrooms and central information center.  PSNC Energy undertook several structural studies of the building as well as environmental cleanup prior to offering to donate the building for public use and benefit.  PSNC took special pride in the brick building that once housed its administrative offices, and was commonly referred to as the "Gas Works Building."  Built in 1910, one of the unique features of the building is that it sits on piers that allow a stream to flow just under it right into the French Broad River.  It is a one-story building with a gabled roof with peaked parapet end walls and pilaster corners with projecting capstones.  The Gas Works Building was identified as a historic structure in the 1987 historic building inventory undertaken by RiverLink in cooperation with the local chapter of the American Institute of Architect before holding its first charette in 1989. It was later included in the list of industrial historic buildings that form the riverfront industrial historic district.

Shindig on the Green presents annual fundraising concert December 1st

One of the area’s most beloved and authentic cultural traditions, Shindig on the Green presents its annual fundraising concert, an evening of traditional bluegrass and mountain dulcimer music, Saturday, December 1st, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. in the Upper Anderson Auditorium at Montreat Conference Center. The Folk Heritage Committee’s annual fundraiser features headliner David Holt and the Lightning Bolts plus mountain dulcimer virtuoso Don Pedi. The fundraising concert is a key element in securing necessary funding for the free and beloved Shindig on the Green summer Saturday evenings in Asheville.

Headliner – David Holt and the Lightning Bolts: Legendary musician, storyteller and four-time Grammy award winner David Holt performs with his five-piece band the Lightning Bolts, featuring an all-local line-up of instrumental superstars: Laura Boosinger on guitar, Josh Goforth on fiddle, Jeff Hersk on bass, and Byron Hedgepeth on percussion. The wide diversity of ages, styles and dynamic personalities gives David Holt and the Lightning Bolts the spark that keeps their music fresh, fun and fired up.

Don Pedi: For over forty years Don Pedi has amazed and delighted audiences with his unique "Fiddle-Pick" style of playing the dulcimer. Drawing on decades of association with many of the best musicians in the southern mountains, as well as his deep commitment to preserving the old music, Pedi carries on the tradition in an exciting and innovative fashion. 

Over 30,000 people attend Shindig on the Green for free throughout the summer. While the crowds of locals and visitors at Shindig have grown over the years for the free evenings, so have the costs. The non-profit Folk Heritage Committee must raise funds to cover the sharply rising costs at Shindig on the Green for goods and services such as security, sound equipment and technicians. The December concert has a $6,000 monetary goal, with all of those funds needed to help cover the “free” Shindig’s very real operating costs, which average several thousand dollars per evening. 

The Folk Heritage Committee produces Shindig on the Green and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in order to support the preservation and continuation of the traditional music, dance and storytelling heritage of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Shindig takes place in the heart of downtown Asheville at Pack Square Park’s Roger McGuire Green, on the Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage.  Dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the region’s rich cultural heritage, Shindig on the Green’s 47th summer season in 2013 is scheduled for June 29; July 6, 13, 20; and August 10, 17, 24, and 31.

The Upper Anderson Auditorium: The December 1st fundraiser takes place in the Upper Anderson Auditorium, the 300-seat theatre at the beautiful Montreat Conference Center, 401 Assembly Drive, in Montreat, NC (Exit #64 off of I-40). Parking for the event is located next to the Upper Anderson Auditorium.

Tickets: Adults $20; Children 12 and younger $10; Group Rate (10 or more adults) $15 per person.  For tickets, call Folk Heritage Committee member Judy Miller at 828-685-8313, or to reserve tickets e-mail For more information, visit or call the Folk Heritage Info Line: 828-258-6101 x345.

Mission Low Vision to open at Industries for the Blind - Nov. 1st

For people who are blind or visually impaired, high quality treatment and rehabilitative therapy is about to be significantly easier to access. On Thursday, November 1, 2012, at 11:00 am, Mission Health will open the new location of Mission Low Vision at the Asheville campus of Industries for the Blind, bringing medical care and community care together in a new, state-of-the-art facility. This is great news for the estimated 193,000 people in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee and western South Carolina experiencing significant vision loss. And, yes, through adaptive technology many patients can “read” the newspaper and “watch” TV.

Please join them, along with Asheville’s Mayor Terry Bellamy at a brief ribbon cutting ceremony and a tour of the new facility. You’ll see the diagnostics room, the virtual room (essentially a recreation of a home environment for learning purposes), the training kitchen, the multipurpose room, the adaptive technologies and much more.

Please RSVP to Jennifer McLucas at 828.575.2268 ext 305 by noon on Wednesday, Oct. 31st. 

Animal Compassion Network to host 9th Annual Taste of Compassion - Nov. 8th

Wine Tasting and Silent Auction Gala benefits animals in need.

Mark your calendar for  Animal Compassion Network’s 9th Annual Taste of Compassion wine tasting and silent auction benefit, Thursday, November 8, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM at The Venue in downtown Asheville.

Guests will be offered free tastings of over 30 wines from around the world courtesy of Mutual Distributing.  The wines will be available for purchase by the bottle or case, with all proceeds benefiting the lifesaving programs of Western North Carolina’s largest and longest running safe-for-life animal welfare organization, ACN. Hors d’oeuvres and desserts, donated by area restaurants, will complement the wine selections and local “Gypsy Jazz” favorite One Leg Up will provide live music all night long.  A trolley service will be available to ferry guests to and from nearby free parking lots downtown. 

The event will also feature the now-famous Taste of Compassion Silent Auction. Businesses and individuals have generously donated a wide-range of desirable items this year, ranging from autographed first-edition books by bestselling authors, vacations, featured art pieces from River Arts District artists, custom jewelry, an elegant pool table with accessories, spa treatments and more. A 2013 Outback donated by Prestige Subaru also will be auctioned off at the event with ACN receiving the full value of the winning bid!

“Taste of Compassion tickets have sold out for the last three years, which is testament to how much the local animal-loving community looks forward to this annual event,” said Eileen Bouressa, Animal Compassion Network’s Executive Director. “With delicious wine and food, great live music and sought after silent auction items available right at the beginning of the holiday gift-buying season, it’s no wonder Taste of Compassion is so popular.”

Tickets are $30 in advance or $35 at the door and will be available at Pet Harmony, ACN’s adoption center, at 803 Fairview St. in South Asheville just off Hendersonville Rd. next to the Juicy Lucy’s restaurant. Tickets are also available online at

For more information about Taste of Compassion please visit