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Regional Report Western May 2011

REGIONALREPORT Western

Volvo Construction Equipment North America LLC will close its sales and rental operations in Asheville by September 2012, moving 220 jobs — averaging $82,400 a year — to Shippensburg, Pa. The company, part of Swedish automaker AB Volvo, closed its Arden assembly plant, which made front-end loaders and excavators, in March 2010, letting go 228. It or a predecessor had operations there since 1976. Volvo employs about 2,100 in North Carolina — mostly in Greensboro.

GRANITE FALLS — Ailing Bank of Granite shrank its losses in 2010 but is having trouble raising capital as required by regulators last year. The bank lost $23.7 million in 2010 — compared with $25.6 million in 2009 — but was still undercapitalized by three important measures. It has operated under a Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. cease-and-desist order, the most drastic corrective action short of failure, since August 2009.

ASHEVILLEAsheville Savings Bank plans to convert from a mutual savings bank owned by its customers to one owned by stockholders. It hasn’t set a timeline but says it will form a new holding company to sell and issue stock. Account holders will get a chance to buy shares before they become available to the public.

ASHEVILLE — Sales of existing Buncombe County homes increased 7.9% in February. It was the first year-over-year increase since June.

MARION — McDowell County commissioners offered an unidentified company 125 acres as an incentive to build a factory here. They say the company, expected to make a decision within the next few months, would invest $30 million for a building and equipment. It would create 113 jobs.

CHEROKEEGreat Smoky Mountains National Park opened a $3 million, 63,000-square-foot visitor center — the first one on the North Carolina side of the park. Park officials hope it will boost attendance, which dropped 0.3% to 9.5 million last year.

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