Statewide: Western region, May 2015
More than a half-century after President Lyndon Johnson launched the War on Poverty, with an emphasis on Appalachia, the 29 counties in western North Carolina have grown more quickly and attracted more jobs than many counterparts in the region’s 11 other states. That was a key finding in a report marking the 50th anniversary of the Appalachian Regional Commission, which works to improve the region’s economic fortunes. The commission “was a major milestone in terms of addressing economic-development needs, high poverty and lower income,” says Patrick Woodie, president of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. He saw the effects of the program as an Alleghany County commissioner and economic-development director. The commission’s goal is for Appalachia to achieve parity with the U.S. in job opportunities and personal income. “Western North Carolina is particularly rich in natural resources. I think that is a real asset. There are opportunities to do more agriculture so that more of the real income is kept at home and kept local,” Woodie says. Getting young people to stay in — or return to — the region may be the most pressing problem in the state’s Appalachian counties. Their population rose 11.3% between 2000 and 2010, more than the overall Appalachian average of 6.8% but slower than North Carolina’s 18.5% increase. Western North Carolina has struggled to retain people in their 20s, the report noted. “I have never sat down with a rural community and had a talk about what’s important that the conversation didn’t immediately turn to that,” Woodie says.
BOONE — Darrell Kruger will become provost and executive vice chancellor of Appalachian State University on July 1. Kruger is dean of the College of Education and Human Development at the University of New Orleans. He replaces Lori Gonzalez, who stepped down in October and now works as an adviser for the UNC System. Appalachian has about 18,000 students.
ASHEVILLE — Catawba Brewing opened a 6,000-square-foot brewery here, its second in western North Carolina. The site has 30 taps, offers indoor and outdoor seating and employs 11 people. The company opened in 1998 in Glen Alpine, then relocated to Morganton in 2007, where its employs 13. Catawba, which has increased production fivefold since 2012, also operates a tasting room in Asheville’s Biltmore Village.
MARION — Asheville-based Mission Health named Carol Wolfenbarger president of 65-bed McDowell Hospital. She has worked for more than 30 years in the health care industry and most recently served as chief operating officer of 58-bed Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Jefferson City, Tenn. Wolfenbarger replaces interim president Bob Bednarek, who held the position since Lynn Boggs resigned at the end of 2014.
SYLVA — Kalamazoo, Mich.-based Bell’s Brewery has filed a series of federal motions against Innovation Brewing, contending the local brewer’s use of its “Inspired Brewing” slogan on promotional items such as posters and T-shirts could cause confusion among consumers. Bell’s says it registered the phrase in 2006. Innovation Brewing began in 2012 as The Tributary Brewing Co. and changed its name in 2013.