Statewide: Western region, April 2015
Nestled at the edge of mountainous Pisgah National Forest in Translyvania County, 700-student Brevard College isn’t the type of place to make waves. But the United Methodist-affiliated institution recently became the first Southeast college to announce its $25 million endowment fund would sell its shares of companies that mine or sell fossil fuels. “I think there’s been an element of surprise, since we are such a small college and a lot of times we are off the radar,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Harrison says. Divestment is a hot topic at Harvard University and campuses nationwide, but Brevard joins only about 20 other schools that have taken action, including Stanford, which sold its shares of coal-mining companies last year. Brevard students brought the idea to administrators roughly two years ago, concerned about the environmental impact of coal, oil and gas companies. School officials expect to divest stock worth $600,000 by 2018 and might purchase wind- and solar-energy shares instead. Investors have options because demand for clean technology is growing. For example, U.S. energy generation from solar power has tripled over the last three years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group. The school has shored up its finances since it was put on probation by its accrediting body in 2013 over financial-stability issues. Brevard expanded enrollment from 633 in 2012 and aims to enroll more than 1,000 students by 2019. Fitch Ratings gave the school’s debt a B+ rating with a positive outlook last year, citing enrollment gains and moderate $10 million debt.
MILLS RIVER — Helmbrechts, Germany-based Raumedic will spend $26.3 million to build its first United States production plant and headquarters here. The company, which makes plastic components such as catheters and tubing for medical and pharmaceutical purposes, will create 138 jobs over five years. Average annual salary for the jobs will be $55,419, 45% higher than Henderson County’s $38,208. Raumedic will receive up to $500,000 in state grants if it meets hiring and investment goals.
FRANKLIN — Entegra Financial is rebranding its Macon Bank subsidiary as Entegra Bank. Formerly Macon Bancorp, the parent company went public Oct. 1 and changed its name to Entegra Financial. Based here, Entegra operates 11 branches in western North Carolina and opened its first loan- production office in Greenville, S.C., in January. The company had assets totaling $903.6 million as of Dec. 31.
MILLS RIVER — Sierra Nevada Brewing opened a taproom and restaurant at its local brewery. The restaurant offers seating for about 400 people. Outdoor dining and a live-music venue are scheduled to open this summer. The Chico, Calif.-based company, which brewed its first batch in 1980, opened its $125 million North Carolina brewery last year, where it employs about 225 people.
ASHEVILLE — Bank of America named Marcus Cox its Asheville market president and consumer market manager for western North Carolina. Cox has worked for the Charlotte-based bank since 2001, most recently as president of the Fayetteville market. He replaces Michael Mercer, who moved to the bank’s Merrill Lynch wealth-management division in Charlotte.