(John Boyle, Asheville C-T) So, just how comfortable are you being in the dark? In Buncombe County, you better learn to adjust, especially when it comes to secret economic deals. You may be getting a sense of deju vu all over again, a la the Project X saga of 2013. That deal, an expansion of the GE Aviation facility in south Asheville, involved months of closed-door negotiations and ultimately $11.2 million in state and local incentives. Buncombe County also constructed a building valued at $18 million-$20 million for GE in Sweeten Creek Industrial Park. More recently, Buncombe County bought 137 acres in Bent Creek off Ferry Road for $6.8 million to entice an economic development prospect.

I’ve learned that the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County has asked the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits it from disclosing any details of a deal for up to two years after the nondisclosure agreement ends. If commissioners sign on the dotted line, they can’t talk about any potential deal for two years, even if it doesn’t work out with the company. It’s hard to decipher the legalese, but that seems like an awful long period of silence.

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