Category: Business


c23797fd-5c72-401d-8dfa-ba2b59c38db9-ingles_01(Asheville Citizen-Times) The Centers for Disease Control says face coverings “are a critical tool” against the spread of COVID-19. But to mask or not has become a politically charged question. Most visibly, this powder-keg debate is happening in one of the few places where the public still congregates, the grocery store.

A wave of stores are promising to enforce state and countywide mandates that require customers to wear face coverings, but with media largely shut out and little to no government checks in place, accountability for those policies is virtually impossible.

The Citizen Times asked to observe customer and employee mask compliance at local grocery stores. Almost all refused. Though all of the stores the Citizen Times contacted say they require masks to shop, only the French Broad Food Co-Op said it would allow a reporter to verify the claims.

Read the full story by Mackensy Lunsford, and how local grocery stores responded HERE.

30a6a0f4-fbdc-4ba1-9281-504a0504ecf5-medium16x9_snoenforcement.transfer_frame_0(WLOS News 13)  Two local sheriffs have joined several others across the state in saying they will not enforce Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay home order.

The Polk County Sheriff Timothy L. Wright said while deputies have the responsibility to respond to complaints, they will not be charging any individual, business or religious organization that violates the order.

Graham County Sheriff Joseph W. Jones also said he will not enforce the order, saying in part, “This is an effort to help some of our folks to recover and give our citizens an opportunity to go eat inside while sitting with family, friends and/or coworkers.”

Read the full report HERE>

 

636253019957898821-ashbrd-01-24-2017-act-1-a005-2017-01-23-img-embassy-suites.jpg-1-1-lih525cq-l960998779-img-embassy-suites.jpg-1-1-lih525cq(Asheville Citizen-Times)  The city and a Raleigh development company spent nearly half a million dollars in a legal fight over the construction of a downtown hotel, according city records and the company, Parks Hospitality Group. The city ultimately lost the battle to stop the construction of the Embassy Suites at 192 Haywood St., with the NC Supreme Court ruling April 3 that PHG had the right to a building permit.

A public records request by PHG confirmed by the Citizen Times showed the city spent $212,925 from August 2018 to April 6 of this year. Most of the money went to Poyner Spruill, a law firm with offices in Charlotte, Raleigh, Rocky Mount and Southern Pines. A small portion, $7,515, went to expenses such as filing fees and legal research, city staff said.

PHG President Shaunak Patel said his company spent $245,000.  In statements on April 3 and May 11 Patel called the fight a waste of private and public funds. He attacked Mayor Esther Manheimer, saying it was she who “misled” the City Council into appealing the case and to decline a $4.1 million settlement offer.

Manheimer on May 11 said the council understood there would be a cost. Money spent on the city’s legal fees would have been enough to cover pay and benefits of three new police officers.

Read the full article HERE>

screen-shot-2020-03-20-at-9.23.40-am-1024x528-1(Carolina Journal) A group of lawmakers who oversee program oversight is working on a draft bill designed to promote transparency and objectivity as they relate to penalties issued by the N.C. Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The draft bill comes after a March report from the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division. The PED says its report is a response to changes to the administrative penalty structure and the severity of penalties handed down by N.C. ABC.

The PED found that administrative penalties aren’t “proportional, lacking policies, procedures, and guidelines that would limit variance and subjectivity.”

“The General Assembly should consider requiring the Commission to set guidelines that ensure penalties are proportional to offenses, increase transparency for permittees, and establish performance management criteria.”

Read the full report HERE>

7a7dbf3c-5313-4863-8c7e-49c70d50b007-downtown_coronavirus_006(Asheville Citizen-Times)  A bill to redirect $5 million in Buncombe County hotel taxes to aid local tourism-related businesses has been signed by Gov. Roy Cooper as part of a larger coronavirus relief package.

Buncombe County Tourism Jobs Recovery Act sponsor NC Sen. Chuck Edwards, R-Flat Rock, said grants of up to $50,000 given to eligible small businesses and nonprofits will help them restart once the recovery begins, “in turn providing jobs and allowing workers to return to the workforce.”

Even before the economic shutdown the hotel tax had been the subject of a heated debate with critics saying the millions of dollars used for boosting tourism should be redirected to services for locals. The hotel tax-controlling body, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority, has defended the expenditures saying economic benefits ripple throughout the region.

Read the full details about the program in the article HERE>

636241335041793646-wncdrinkingwater-008(Asheville Citizen-Times) The city is proposing $1.3 million in fee hikes for a range of services used by residents and visitors alike.

The increased fees and charges would be for things such as drinking water, stormwater system maintenance and fire inspections. Fees make up more 35 percent of all money taken in by Asheville, just behind property taxes, at 36 percent. The total operating budget for this fiscal year, ending June 30, is $180 million.

The most direct impact to residents will be increases in water rates and a fee charged to maintain stormwater systems, which deal with rainwater draining off homes and other buildings.

Read the full report by Joel Burgess HERE>

636407287903952148-ashbrd-03-08-2016-act-1-a007-2016-03-07-img-ashevilleoutlets-003-1-1-i4dmc302-l773256555-img-ashevilleoutlets-003-1-1-i4dmc302(Asheville Citizen-Times) I did indeed ask Asheville Police Department spokeswoman Christina Hallingse for crime stats at Asheville Outlets going back five years, and she delivered. Keep in mind that the Outlets opened in May 2015, so the data from 2014-April 30, 2015 is for the previous tenants or unfinished property.

“Thirteen percent (220 calls) involved shoplifting, larceny and business breaking and entering, crimes consistent with major retail areas,” Hallingse said. “Of these calls for service 0.3 percent of incidents (six total incidents) are categorized as violent crimes —rape, homicide, robbery and aggravated assault.”

Hallingse also noted that Asheville Outlets is located within the Police Department’s Adam District, which encompasses West Asheville.

Read John Boyle’s full column HERE>

185c00ab-f87c-4d7b-99f7-9cc025fd2435-flatironbuilding_meeting_10092018_0075(Citizen-Times) Plans to redevelop Asheville’s historic Flatiron Building into an 80-room boutique hotel will move ahead after receiving approval this week from the city’s Downtown Commission, a green light that comes with a lengthy list of concerns about its potential impact on the community.

Much of the commission’s roughly three-hour meeting Friday centered on a proposed multimillion dollar renovation effort for the 93-year-old property at 20 Battery Park Ave. Charleston, South Carolina-based developer Philip Woollcott has offered a plan in conjunction with building owner Russell Thomas to convert it from primarily small business use to a hotel with two bars and a restaurant.

Woollcott, an Asheville native, said the proposal — which still requires City Council approval — is designed to preserve the aging structure while putting forth a business model to “provide stability for it to sustain itself for generations to come.”

Red the full report by Dillon Davis <HERE>

mms 1350 bannerCommentary by Matt Mittan

It’s not surprising to me that the “Gig-Economy” is expanding the way that it is. The “Gig-Economy” is the world ruled by entrepreneurs, independent contractors and the self employed. This is a segment of the economy that is populated by people who do what they want, the way they want to do it, on the schedule of their choosing. And, according to a report in Business News Daily, 36% of the American work force is already independent. And numerous workforce study reports predict that we will see the freelance workforce in America surpass 50% within the next 10-15 years. So why is this happening?

Of course, technology is a huge factor in the change. More and more people can be productive from just about anywhere, so long as they have internet or cellular connectivity to the outside world. And culturally, younger generations have a different mindset about work / home balance. But I think there’s more to it than that.

There are too many times, when I’m trying to deal with corporate entities, that common sense and rational thought processes go right out the window. I can’t explain why, but there is a certain paralysis that manifests itself within many large corporations. People are often locked into rigid habits and routines that void them of even the most basic of independent decisions. And even where there may be empowerment to take action on items, many in the large corporate culture seem unwilling to make moves that may draw attention or engage any level of risk. Better to stay the course than to be party to something that may not work out.

When absorbed into this kind of environment, many employees and managers are blind to the inefficiencies and obtuseness of their stagnation. Employees who do see and feel the frustration and inevitable failure of this mind set in a company end up leaving, either to a more empowered work environment or they branch out to work for themselves.

In the face of constant turn over of employees and the challenges many businesses face in recruiting talent, many choose not to adjust their ways but instead clamp down on their key personnel even more rigidly. This further stifles creativity and workplace morale, which more and more people seek as a key factor in a job. Corporations that are learning to embrace the trend of independent workers are picking up speed, not slowing down. Unfortunately, most still don’t get it.

Which brings me back to where I began, it’s not surprising to me that the “Gig-Economy” is expanding the way that it is. Corporate culture is dying in the hearts of the American worker.

(Matt Mittan hosts the afternoon drive show on Biz Radio Asheville and owns an insurance and employee benefits agency in Asheville, NC.)

Up, Up and Away!

Biz_Radio_1350_Logo3 months on the air…. What’s been accomplished?

  • Create brand new, never done in Asheville before, radio station format, lineup and branding – Check.
  • Build out broadcast capability from scratch – Check.
  • Get new 10,000 watt station on the air live – Check.
  • Get live audio streaming up – Check.
  • Get Social Media and Web platforms up and running – Check.
  • Get Podcasts up and running – Check.
  • Get broad distribution of podcasts across multiple popular platforms (such as iTunes, Google Play and more) – Check.
  • Partner up to start doing community business networking events around town – Check.
  • Get live video streaming up and running – Check.
  • Feature a long parade of amazing people from across our community up on a very large media platform – Check.
  • Start promoting local advertisers to a growing listener base – Check.

Signed,
The entire crew of Asheville Business Radio, on the day of our 3 Month (young) anniversary. WOW!!!!

Thank you everyone!!! This is all yours! Celebrate! There’s still more to come!!!!