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A Glimpse of Asheville

DSC00004Located in the mountains of Western North Carolina, lays the beautiful city of Asheville. Whether you come here in the fall to see the leaves change color on the parkway, a spring visit to the Biltmore House to see the flowers bloom, or for a summer vacation to enjoy all the outdoor activities you can imagine, Asheville is the perfect place to visit any time of the year.  

This small city is a great place to be if you’re traveling here with your family, by yourself, or with your significant other. The adventure of Asheville begins as soon as you step foot in downtown. Here you will find some of the best restaurant and small shops. You will not want to miss a trip to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge! Call us here at Wilcox Travel and we would love to set you up a tour of downtown Asheville so that you can learn the history of the wonderful town. While you are downtown make a trip down to the River Arts District to enjoy multiple art studios and experience the culture of Asheville. If you are a fan of the night scene then you will love some of the bars there are, including Aloft hotel where you can go on the roof and see all of the city under the stars.

Just ten minutes from downtown Asheville located in Biltmore Forest sits The Biltmore Estate. The house is one of the biggest private homes in the US and the estate is one of the largest that is still privately owned. Don’t forget to get your tickets at the front gate because you will not want to miss out on the walk through tours they offer of the home. A visit to the Biltmore Estate can last all day and will still leave you wanting more. Surrounding the house are the estates gardens, a pond, and many walking trails, including one that line the French Broad River. Not to mention the many dining options they have from snacks to completely formal, which is great for celebrations and special occasions. You can enjoy a free tour of the winery and if you are of age, free wine testing when the tour is complete! The options at The Biltmore Estate are endless.

After you have enjoyed two of the most famous places in Asheville you will want to continue your adventure outdoors! Surrounding Asheville are many hiking trails, waterfalls, places to zip line, a tubing experience down the river, a drive down the parkway, and much more. The hiking trails range from very easy, something the whole family can do and then there are strenuous ones for the most adventure seeking outdoor lovers! While on your hike or outdoor adventure there will be plenty of opportunities to view the wildlife. There are also great places to horseback ride, or play golf in the valley of the mountains.

If you love to shop there is something for you too! Besides the many shops in downtown Asheville and Biltmore Forest, an outlet mall recently opened up fifteen minutes down the road with plenty of stores for all different tastes.

There are so many activities to do you will want to spend as much time in Asheville that you can! Enjoy your adventures and come see us here in these beautiful mountains we call home. Contact Wilcox Travel so we can help you plan the perfect trip to Asheville, NC.

Waiving the fee for Entrance to the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center

“As an institution that adds to and thrives within Asheville’s amazing cultural offerings, we thought that a proper celebration of our 20 years as a museum and the 80 year anniversary of the opening of Black Mountain College would include free admission to our unique exhibits,” said Board Chair Dr. Brian Butler in a press release issued Sunday afternoon. “We think of this as both a thank you to our community and as a gentle invite to anyone who has not already stopped in to learn about our exhibitions and events.”

alice sebrell, of black mountain college museu...

alice sebrell, of black mountain college museum and arts center, shows me (and siena!) mary parks washington’s histcollage titled “black mountain college” (Photo credit: davidsilver)

The move grants all visitors free access to ongoing exhibitions in the museum’s Broadway Street gallery space. Some special events, such as lectures, film screening and poetry readings, among other programs, may still have one-time ticket fees. As for the financial difference, the board’s goal, according to Alice Sebrell, BMCM+AC’s program director, is to balance out potential loss in admission revenues with further grant writing, fundraising and in-kind donations from increased attendance.

“We’ve always been free to members and always free on every single Wednesday of the month,” Sebrell told Xpress. By offering free admission the museum can reach a larger audience, particularly in the arts-based tourism sector. “It’s a positive move towards total inclusion,” she says.

“In this town, with so many people working on low wages, especially in the artists community, it’s nice to offer this,” Sebrell says. We’ve always kept that on the forefront of our minds.” And now, she says, “with free consciouses, we can welcome everyone in through our doors.”

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is located at 56 Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. The gallery is open to the public from 12 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The current exhibition, Cynthia Homire: Vision Quest, which features ceramic works, drawings and poems by the New Mexico-based artist and former BMC student, is on view through May 17.

Black Mountain College

Black Mountain College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Foodie vacation destination: The Admiral in Asheville, N.C.

Go For the Food is a weekly AP food and travel series about food as a driver of tourism.


ASHEVILLE, N.C. | In downtown Asheville, good restaurants are as handsomely conspicuous as the artsy boutiques and bodegas that give the Blue Ridge Mountain mecca its trendy, vibrant flair.

IF YOU GOCooks @ The Admiral

The Admiral: 400 Haywood Road, West Asheville, N.C., 828-252-2541SunnyPointCafe

Sunny Point Cafe: 626 Haywood Road, West Asheville, N.C., 828-252-0055

Across the French Broad River, in West Asheville? Not so much. This is the funkier side of town, where families, artists and workers live in frame bungalows lining narrow, hilly side streets, and the main drag, Haywood Road, has an earthier, slightly gritty feel.

That's why driving down Haywood, you're more apt to notice the gas station across the street than the squat cinder block building that houses The Admiral.

"Chances are, you will pass us at least three times. You won't be able to find a good parking place," said Admiral co-owner Drew Wallace.

When The Admiral opened in 2007, Wallace and business partner Jonathan Robinson called this "the wage-earning side of town" and their aim was to create a successful dive bar/unexpected restaurant. It has more than met their desires. West Asheville has blossomed since those early days, and The Admiral has morphed from a neighborhood tavern into a destination restaurant, but it still feels like a wonderfully hidden gem.

Reservations are a must, unless you want to sit at the bar and are willing to wait. But those are the best seats in the small, dimly lit space. That's where you get the best view of the open, galley kitchen, where a quartet of chefs busily cook up small plates of unforgettable mussels, bathed in a slightly smoky sauce of San Marzano tomatoes; entrees like meaty, barbecue sauced pork chops with collard greens and root vegetable gratin; or an other-worldly version of steak frites, featuring black Angus rib-eye, sweet potato chips, green beans and quail egg salad. Desserts might include a sinfully delicious chocolate mousse with cherry clotted cream and red wine cherry sauce, but the eclectic menu changes regularly, so prepare for the unexpected.

"There is really no straightforward summary of our style" Wallace says. "The food tends to be a little more experimental than most of our peers." And much of it is locally sourced from family-owned businesses.

The slightly kitschy decor includes a neon "Dive" sign in one corner, a handful of industrial-looking hanging lamps and black-clad, tattooed and welcoming servers.

There are no uppity attitudes at The Admiral, and that's partly what draws Boomers, hipsters, business execs and obvious out-of-towners. Most appetizers and small plates cost $12 or less, and entrees run up to $30. On Friday and Saturday nights, tables are pushed aside at 10 p.m. for dance parties.

Also on Haywood Road is the informal Sunny Point Cafe, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but best known for amazingly fluffy and delicious biscuits and legendary waits for breakfast and brunch.

Premier Distributor of Outdoor Recreation Products Locates in Asheville

In conjunction with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC) and Venture Asheville, Sport Hansa LLC, a premier importer and distributor of European outdoor product brands, today announced its relocation to Asheville.  The firm’s expanded distribution center will allow for continued growth and expansion of product lines that today include Helle knives of Norway, Kupilka camping dishware of Finland, Montane technical outerwear and Terra Nova tents of the United Kingdom, as well as Wetterlings Axe Works of Sweden.  The three-year-old company will locate at 10 Business Park Circle in Arden.

“As we continued to expand our customer base and add further European brands, we looked for a location that offered key attributes such as a business friendly environment and a cluster of other important players in the outdoor industry. After an extensive search, Asheville continually came up at the top of our list,” stated Matt Huff, Managing Director of Sport Hansa. The company is relocating its headquarters and distribution operations from Longmont, Colorado.

Additionally, the firm announced the appointment of a new Director of Marketing and Inside Sales. Formerly with North Carolina based Diamond Brand Outdoors, John Stephens will be tasked with designing and implementing programs to better support the company’s 220 outdoor retail customers in the USA and Canada.

“The arrival of Sport Hansa fulfills two strategic goals of the Asheville 5×5 and Venture Asheville initiatives,” said EDC Chairman Paul Szurek. “The company will create sustainable jobs and investment in the outdoor products sector, while becoming another effective participant in our entrepreneurial community. Both groups are advantageous for long-term job growth.”

“We’re proud to welcome the Huff family and Sport Hansa to Asheville,” said David Gantt, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. “These products have a reputation for quality and craftsmanship in the outdoor recreation arena and are a great fit for Buncombe County.”

Loran Evans, President and Owner of Asheville-based Rightline Gear, also welcomed the company and the growth of the outdoor products industry. “This announcement is great news for the growing outdoor gear community in Asheville. Our city is the perfect spot for Sport Hansa to grow its business.”

The move also coincides with the announcement of two new manufacturer representatives. Summit Sales and Campbell Sports will represent Helle Norwegian knives and Wetterlings Swedish axes in the Southeast and Mountain regions respectively. For more information on Sport Hansa and product sales, please visit

The EDC for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a member organization with over 1,800 member businesses and organizations. Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of building community through business. The Chamber is home to a 4,000 square foot Visitor Center which welcomes over 195,000 visitors per year.

GE Aviation Expansion Highlighted in Site Selection Magazine

Site Selection Magazine- September 2013

Mark Arend

Sometimes A State Really Does Have the Best Work Force

GEnx LH 747-8

GE Aviation picks an underdog location for its ceramic matrix composite plant, lifting the fortunes of four Tar Heel communities, not just one.

Talk about a vote of confidence. GE Aviation is investing nearly $200 million in four North Carolina sites primarily because of the state’s work force.

One of the locations — Asheville — will be home to a new, $125-million plant for producing Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC) components for the next-gen LEAP commercial aircraft engines being developed by CFM, a joint venture of GE Aviation and French aerospace concern Snecma. Composites are used routinely in aircraft manufacturing, but CMC is the first composite being used in the hot section, or core, of the engine. GE will produce a stationary component called a turbine shroud initially. Less air is required to cool the part, so more air is applied to propulsion, making the engine more efficient. More CMC components will follow.

Meanwhile, GE Aviation is also investing in its facilities in Durham, where the engines are assembled, and in West Jefferson and Wilmington, where components are manufactured. The company has invested in building up its supply of skilled workers in the state and is no hurry to lose them.

“Every state will tell you they have the best work force,” says Kelly Walsh, a GE Aviation spokeswoman familiar with the CMC facility site search, which involved locations in 12 states. “They all come to the table with that. North Carolina’s proven record was really the tipping point. We have a hard time finding the skilled labor we need to fill jobs. So when we have a track record of success like we have had in North Carolina, we will do everything we can to stay there.”

The new Asheville facility is being built on a former Old Dominion Trucking site adjacent to GE Aviation’s existing plant, which will be re-purposed over time for additional CMC work. Employees at that plant were thrilled to learn their jobs were secure and that their new workspace would be at virtually the same location they were already in.

‘Pivotal’ Supply Chain State

Logistics is a close second to labor in GE’s North Carolina play, says Walsh.

“North Carolina is a big deal to our supply chain, and we wanted to be able to really gear up for executing on a record order backlog across all four of those sites,” she says. Orders already are on the books for more than 4,500 LEAP engines from airlines around the world awaiting delivery of next-generation Boeing 737 MAX, Airbus A320neo and COMAC C919 aircraft. “We definitely look to North Carolina as a very pivotal part of our supply chain. Outside of headquarters in Ohio, it’s probably one of the most important states to us.”

Walsh says GE Aviation will break ground on 125,000-sq.-ft. (11,600-sq.- m.) facility in Asheville later this year and will be shipping certified parts from there in 2014. “I think we are ahead of the curve in the industry in doing this,” she notes. “The other North Carolina sites will keep doing what they do, but every facility has to prepare for this new LEAP engine. The CMC work is unique to Asheville, but the upgrades at West Jefferson, Wilmington and Durham are so we can increase our capacity for LEAP.”

Asheville was the best candidate for the new CMC plant of the four North Carolina options, says Walsh. “We had a vision for each site. We are constantly evaluating workload throughout all 80 of our sites in the supply chain on quality and cost,” she relates. “Our supply chain leader always has said the North Carolina shops are some of the best. They are focused, they have an entrepreneurial spirit, and the work force is great, on time and on cost. So we had a vision for all four of them that included growth. Asheville was a key site to repurpose, because the existing work being done there wasn’t the highest value work. But we worked across the sites in North Carolina, and the localities really made this happen.” Asheville and Buncombe County are clearly among those.

“There was a lot of competition surrounding this particular location for the CMC work that will be done here,” says Ben Teague, senior vice president of the Asheville-Buncombe County Economic Development Coalition. “We think it will unlock hundreds of millions of dollars of further development opportunities.”

Teague says his team knew in mid- 2012 that a significant project was getting organized, and by December, discussions were under way. “We knew there was significant competition from what we knew to be Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Delaware and several other states. It became known as Project CMC, because that’s what we were told would be produced.”

Against the Odds

GE Aviation’s internal methodology for scoring potential investment locations had Asheville in the least desirable position, with its saving grace being its work force, says Teague. “They told us this investment would put us in the best possible position for future investment,” he notes, “that not only would our work force continue to work, but their grandkids would be working on this technology. It would have a multigenerational effect on the community.

“We knew they meant business. We knew we were in trouble. And we knew we had to do something to win,” says Teague. “We also knew they wanted to stay at a location where they already were and that they wanted to expand.” The Asheville site would make that very difficult. Negotiations with the owner of the existing facility fell through, and other options in the area were not practical.

Old Dominion agreed to sell its site next to GE Aviation and be relocated as long as its operations were uninterrupted. “Before we could even start construction on the GE Aviation site, we had to build Old Dominion’s entire building and move them to their new location.” And GE wasn’t going to budge on when it wanted its new CMC plant operational. (The deal with Old Dominion was essentially a swap. The county would buy a new site and build the company a building, and Old Dominion gave the county its former site.) One more hurdle: “In North Carolina, counties do not have a design-build process, but we got legislation passed to allow us to do a design-build for the county. Kudos to our local delegation in the state legislature for helping to make that happen.”

Had Old Dominion not agreed to the deal, GE Aviation’s CMC production would be taking shape in another city, if not state. “North Carolina would have lost,” says Teague. “This technology being here in Asheville is the crux of the state expansion.

“GE views us as a partner,” he adds. “They will tell you that the work force that is on site now at GE is very innovative and very productive relative to other plants, and that helps make them profitable. That’s part of what kept them looking at Asheville.”

Project X?

Teague says the approval process for a $2.7-million incentives package and a $15-million building purchase was tricky inasmuch as the company had to remain anonymous, which irked some in the community — it was known as “Project X.” But the incentives hearings were public.

It was all worth the effort, says Teague, who was present at the Paris Air Show when GE Aviation President and CEO David Joyce announced the investment, referring to the company’s “partnership with Asheville” and the industry-changing technology that would be built here.

“We had an announcement here locally, too,” says Teague. “To see the hundreds of workers at the GE plant here walk down the hill to where their new plant would be — this parade of people — was amazing and emotional. These were the people and families we had worked so hard for. So many people in the community had worked so hard in different ways to make this possible.”

The real story, says Teague is the ground-breaking technology that GE Aviation will produce in the Great Smoky Mountains. “But when you go through that public process, it shifts peoples’ perception to the incentives, and we had to work hard to keep the message on point and address concerns that nearly $18 million was a lot of money to be making available to the mysterious Project X. But at the end of the day, it was understood to be a great technology play, and people understood why it had to be that way for a time.”

A very significant technology play, GE Aviation’s Walsh reiterates. “This is the very first mass production facility for CMCs in jet propulsion. And it’s in North Carolina, so needless to say we’re putting our money on Asheville and trust the work force to execute on this.”

If the workers’ enthusiastic march to see the new plant site is any indication, it will in spades.

Life Sciences Company to Locate in Asheville in January 2014

In early January 2014, f(x) Immune Co. will begin operations in the Technology Commercialization Center at the A-B Tech Community College’s Business Acceleration Site in Enka (BASE) as a participant in the Business Incubator Program. f(x) Immune Co. is a spin-out from parent company Flow Applications Inc. with headquarters in the greater St. Louis area and with labs in the greater Atlanta area.  f(x) Immune Co. is an immuno-diagnostic companion assay developer, offering laboratory services and biologics development support for member companies of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRma).

Over the next three-years, f(x) Immune Co. will hire up to six lab technicians for its new operation in Asheville. The company will give priority to associate degreed Laboratory Technicians trained in NCCLS accredited programs and graduates of the former A-B Tech Biotechnology Associate Program in Applied Science. Resumes and cover letters are invited and will be accepted at f(x) Immune Co. also plans to use lab services of the NC BioNetwork hosted at A-B Tech.

Company principals cited a number of reasons for the selection of Asheville, including the incubator and wet-labs in the tech commercialization center at A-B Tech, the robust talent pipeline for life sciences, and the EDC’s strategic focus on science and technology jobs and knowledge based entrepreneurship.

“The leadership of the NC Biotech Center’s Western Office traveled to our headquarters in 2011 to present these competitive advantages,” recalled Michael Hickey. “The EDC, A-B Tech and the Biotech Center teamed up to do an exceptional job facilitating our visits to the community. We are confident that the Asheville operations will meet our growth objectives in 2014 and beyond.”

“The f(x) announcement shows the community’s commitment and ability to compete for the Science and Technology jobs of the next generation,” observed EDC Board Chair Paul Szurek. “The partnership of A-B Tech and NC Biotech Center is very valuable in meeting the ambitious goals of the AVL 5×5 plan.”

f(x) Immune Company is led by principals Michael H. Hickey BS, MLS (ASCP) and Joseph E. Martinez PhD. with a combined 60-years of experience in the life sciences sector. Mr. Hickey described the company’s competitive advantage as the development of laboratory technologies in collaboration with its parent company Flow Applications Inc. and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will significantly decrease the time and expense of new biologics introduction. Collectively termed Multi-plexed Opsonic Detection Technologies (MODT), these methods will satisfy the criteria set down by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for classes of therapeutics known as biologics inclusive of bacterial vaccines and therapeutic monoclonal antibodies.

The EDC for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a member organization with over 1,800 member businesses and organizations. Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of building community through business. The Chamber is home to a 4,000 square foot Visitor Center which welcomes over 195,000 visitors per year.


GE Aviation Breaks Ground on $126 Million Facility in Asheville

Foto do centro da cidade, tirada em uma casa n...

ASHEVILLE, N.C.– In conjunction with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC), GE Aviation broke ground on a new $126 million facility that will revolutionize jet propulsion on Thursday, November 14. This substantial investment will lead the way for new technology, design and materials that will make GE jet engines the industry standard for efficiency, while simultaneously reducing emissions.

“GE Aviation’s new factory in Buncombe County is a major endorsement of our local manufacturing talent.  This groundbreaking technology is the most sophisticated and proprietary ever entrusted to our region by such a prominent global corporation.  It should put Asheville at the top of the list for any company with demanding manufacturing needs, especially those with green attributes.”

Asheville’s economy is vibrant – since January of 2009 the EDC for Asheville-Buncombe County has announced 34 projects, from both recruitment and expansion efforts, bringing 2,700 new positions and more than $791 million in capital investment to Buncombe County.

  “The Ceramic Matrix Composite facility expansion will add 52 new positions to its current workforce of approximately 300,” said Michael Meguiar, Asheville Plant Leader for GE Aviation. “North Carolina was up against 12 other states for the potential location of this new facility. One of the competitive advantages that ultimately drove GE Aviation to choose North Carolina and Buncombe County is because of its extremely talented workforce.”

The new facility is estimated to generate $1.2 million annually in new city and county property tax receipts.It also will begin to sustain more than 750 direct, indirect and induced jobs in and around Asheville, with $34 million in annual income, and $4.3 million in annual state and local taxes.

Buncombe County and the City of Asheville have worked closely with GE Aviation to retain and expand local production capabilities to accommodate production of a revolutionary aircraft engine material known as Ceramic Matrix Composite (CMC). According to industry research, a jet engine constructed using CMC materials can reduce fuel consumption by 15 percent, resulting in annual fuel savings of more than $1 million for each plane. Aircraft powered by GE jet engines take flight around the world every two seconds, with demand for CMC components anticipated to increase ten-fold over the next decade.

        The EDC for Asheville-Buncombe Countyis a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions.  The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion, small business and entrepreneurship, research, and marketing and recruitment.  The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Weaverville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign.

        The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is a 2,000+ member organization representing 86,000 employees.  Chamber members collaborate with community organizations and coalitions to support the community and each other with the mission of increasing the region’s livability by advancing its economic vitality.  The Asheville Chamber works diligently to ensure that Asheville continues to prosper while also protecting the natural beauty of the area.  In 2006, the Chamber moved to a new location and is now home to the 4,000 square foot Visitor Center which welcomes 200,000 visitors per year.