Statewide: Western region, December 2014
The University of Michigan guaranteed $400,000 to visiting Appalachian State University’s football team in 2007, never dreaming the game would produce a stunning upset. App returned to Ann Arbor in August. The Wolverines whipped the Mountaineers 52-14 this time, but the Boone school got $1 million, $300,000 more than it would have had it stayed in the Southern Conference, its home for 43 years. It’s one example of how moving up to the Sun Belt Conference — and the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision — this year ran up the score. App anticipates a $1.2 million annual increase in revenue from richer TV contracts and proceeds Sun Belt members share when its teams make NCAA bowl games or the basketball tournament. The athletics department budget increased 25% to $20 million this fiscal year, mostly for 20 more football scholarships and higher travel costs — Sun Belt schools are scattered from Georgia to Idaho. App also paid $600,000 to exit its old conference and $1 million to enter its new one. Though the team has not ranked nationally in recent years — it posted 19 straight winning seasons, including three Football Championship Subdivision national titles in 2005-07 — 24,050-seat Kidd Brewer Stadium stays packed. App led the FCS in average attendance from 2010 to 2013.
ARDEN — Linamar will invest $115 million and add 150 jobs to its existing 200 at its local machining plant, where the Guelph, Ontario-based company will make a new line of transmission gears for the automotive industry. The jobs will pay an average annual wage of $42,666, higher than Buncombe County’s $38,494.
ASHEVILLE — The Biltmore Co. began constructing a 209-room hotel next to the winery on its 8,000-acre Biltmore Estate. The 130,000-square-foot hotel, the property’s second, is scheduled to open November 2015 and will create about 230 jobs.
ROBBINSVILLE — Oak Valley Hardwoods will add 114 jobs and invest more than $10.1 million over five years in a lumber business here. The subsidiary of China-based Tides and Times Group USA exports lumber from American sawmills to Asia to be made into hardwood flooring. It will occupy the 562,000-square-foot former Stanley Furniture factory, which idled 400 workers when it closed in July.
ASHEVILLE — Bank of the Ozarks opened a commercial-lending office here, its first office in Buncombe County and 17th in the state. The Little Rock, Ark.-based bank has 165 offices in nine states and had assets of nearly $6.6 billion Sept. 30.
ASHEVILLE — Mission Health opened a 20,000-square-foot genetics-services center adjacent to its children’s hospital. Fullerton Genetics Center provides lab services, including prenatal testing and testing for other genetic conditions.