Long before the Oct. 3, 1880, arrival of the first scheduled train in Asheville, the American railroad has been romanticized in both story and song, on stage and on screen.

Trains took us to our baby, or away from our baby. Trains took us off to war, or home to peace. Trains opened vast swaths of the American West to settlement, bringing with them jobs, growth, trade and prosperity while quietly gliding over miles upon miles of cold steel rail.

One needn’t look further than industries like Sylva’s Jackson Paper, Canton’s Evergreen Packaging and Waynesville’s Giles Chemical for evidence of how rail access benefits the economy in small Western North Carolina towns.

A new business or a new family moving to town isn’t solely due to the luck of the draw.

Likewise, a shuttered mill or dilapidated neighborhood isn’t solely due to being dealt a bad hand.

Advanced manufacturing and machining in Western North Carolina just got a huge boost from a Fortune-500 multinational conglomerate with more than $127 billion in yearly revenue.

After sixteen months of meetings, a change of planning director and a nearly complete turnover of membership on the Jackson County Planning Board, an updated industrial development ordinance is now in place for the county.

maconWith the help of matching grants funds from Macon County, TekTone Sound & Signal Manufacturing Inc. will expand operations at the county industrial park with the purchase of the former SKF facility.

jacksonTake a drive around the mountain roads of Western North Carolina and it probably won’t be long before a tight curve spits you out alongside a yard decorated with a few rusty old vehicles here, some extraneous car parts there and a peppering of discarded tools for good measure.

fr frackingWhen the state opened the doors for hydraulic fracturing — called “fracking” — in 2014, a flood of public opinion from the mountains told Raleigh that drilling would not be welcome in the western part of the state.

op frHindsight is indeed 20-20, and this time Haywood County commissioners very likely saw things exactly as they should have.

The plan to sell 55 acres in Haywood County’s industrial park to a start-up recycling sorting company has been scuttled. A press release sent out by the county Monday, Nov. 10, said that the company had withdrawn its offer. With the decision made, it’s way too easy to sit comfortably at my desk with my laptop and write with confidence about why this wasn’t a good idea.

fr recyclinghearingA controversial proposal to sell a 55-acre tract in a county-owned industrial park near Canton to a private recycling sorting plant is dead.

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