The Transylvania Times -

By Mark Todd
Staff Writer" 

Economy Continues To Struggle


June 16, 2009

The Transylvania County economy continues to struggle mightily, according to Mark Burrows, director of planning and economic development for the county.

"We've never had such low numbers in the 19 years I've been here" Burrows said during a meeting with members of the Economic Develo-pment Advisory Board (EDAB).

"I think it speaks to what's happening nationally. We're still in the trenches."

In 2008, commercial and industrial building permits, including French Broad Place and the Public Safety Complex, had a total year-end value of $32.6 million, compared to $13.4 million the year before.

This year, as of May, the total is $565,000. Commercial and industrial alterations in 2008 totaled $9.5 million.

This year, as of May, the total is $1.4 million.

In 2007, residential single-family permits totaled $76.4 million in value, dropping to $48.5 million in 2008.

As of May they totaled $6.1 million.

Two new houses were permitted in the county in May, and none in the City of Brevard.

Unemployment improved from 9.5 percent in March to 8.8 percent in April, but the April figure a year ago was just 4.1 percent.

With just May and June left in the fiscal year for occupancy tax collections (reflecting tourism) the total for the fiscal year is $239,955, compared to $353,317 last fiscal year.

All of that, said Burrows, the board and others in the community continue doing all they can to encourage and inform existing businesses with a number of educational programs that focus on opportunities.

The board and Burrows are continuing to work on development of a new four-year Economic Devel-opment Strategic Plan for presentation to county commissioners in August.

Burrows said there is still interest by businesses inside the county in future expansion and he has talked with prospects that are interested in moving to the county in the near future.

Tad Fogel, president of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce and EDAB member, said he is encouraged that at least he is seeing pockets of economic activity here and there in the county.

In addition to the French Broad Place project, land continues to be prepared for development at the old Ecusta Mill site, which is to be the future home of the mixed use Davidson River Village property.

Burrows said he would love to see the new Apple Corp. server farm planned for North Carolina come to Transylvania and locate on the Ecusta site, but he said the odds are against it.

The state has done well to attract Apple, Dell and Google and the businesses that will spin off from them, Burrows said.

Burrows said Apple expects to invest $1 billion over 10 years in the state.

He said "communities are constantly being evaluated for their electronic capabilities" and that raises a question: "How can we increase our visibility and resources?"


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