City to Seek New Finance Director

Asheville’s Chief Finance Officer, Barbara Whitehorn, has accepted a position as Finance Director with the City of San Bernardino, California. Her last day will be Friday, Jan. 15.

Under Whitehorn’s direction for the past seven years, the City of Asheville and the Finance Department have improved policies and procedures, and have many noteworthy accomplishments including:

Consistently achieved Triple-A bond ratings from both Moody’s and S & P rating agencies.

Implemented an innovative debt model using interim construction financing to effectively leverage taxpayer funds.

Supported the first successful passage of a General Obligation Bond referendum in three decades.

Assisted in Asheville being the first city in North Carolina to issue green bonds in 2015.

Implemented continuous improvements to the budget development process.

Assistant Finance Director Tony McDowell will serve as interim director and a selection process for finance director will be underway shortly.

System Logistics Expanding in Buncombe County

In conjunction with the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC), System Logistics Corporation (SLC), the American operations of System Logistics SpA (Italy), announced has plans to invest $3 million in its Asheville operations. This project expansion will sustain 124 jobs with an average wage of $34.61 per hour and create 47 additional jobs with an average wage of $32.17 per hour.

The investments will be in facility renovation and adding new technology and machinery. The new positions will include opportunities in software/PLC, project management, sales, engineering, production and management. Starting pay for any job at System Logistics Corporation is a minimum of $15 per hour.

System Logistics is a leading global supplier of innovative intra-logistics and material handling solutions for the warehouses, distribution centers and manufacturing operations worldwide looking to optimize the supply chain. With a special focus on the food and beverage industry, System Logistics develops tailor-made solutions of automated storage and picking for its customers that include automated guided vehicles, stacker cranes, material handling, software and services. Most of the technologies are fully developed, engineered, produced and installed in-house by System Logistics employees.

System Logistics is part of Krones Group, the worldwide market and technology leader for processing and packaging automation in the food and beverage sector with a workforce of over 14,000 employees across the globe and a net revenue of over $4 billion USD. Of that, System Logistics’ annual revenue is over $260 million, 25% of which is generated in the United States.

The Asheville site leadership attributes the expansion initiative to a growing market demand for automated warehousing solutions and a competitive advantage of the Asheville-area workforce with demonstrated expertise in engineering and software technology.

“We are very pleased to continue expanding our operations in Asheville, North Carolina,” said Stefano Vitale, SLC CEO & President. “Since System Logistics Corporation moved to Arden in 2017, we have been able to grow significantly thanks to the favorable conditions found in Buncombe County and for being able to attract excellent talent. We are pleased to call Arden home. A very special thanks goes to the authorities of Buncombe County and to the local Chamber of Commerce for their support and partnership in this ongoing process.”

“System Logistics offers high-wage, high-tech, professional job opportunities to our residents. We applaud the continued investment in technology, innovation and people at the regional headquarters here in Arden,” Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Brownie Newman said. “This investment strengthens the county’s tax base, helping fund the services and infrastructure critical to the quality of life in our community.”

“Investment in high-tech, advanced manufacturing companies like System Logistics is key to the sustained economic growth of Western North Carolina,” said EDC Board Chair Michael Meguiar. “Our ability to support these industries will build a strong foundation for this and future generations.”

Partners in the expansion include Buncombe County, the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and the North Carolina Community College System.

Become a Big Brother or Big Sister Today

January is National Mentoring Month and this year Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina is celebrating it by recruiting more adult and high school volunteers, as well as children and youth who need an extra someone on their side.

“One truth I know is that we are all called to take care of one another, to encourage, to uplift, to hold a space for others to be listened to and valued,” said Lelia Duncan, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina. “There is nothing more important, nothing closer to the divine than to be present and to take a moment to nurture those around us, especially children and youth.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC is especially effective in helping young people feel valued and heard. Surveys of school personnel in the 2018-2019 school year show that among BBBSWNC participants in community- and school/site-based programs, 94% became more self-confident, 88% got along better with their peers, 89% improved relationships with adults, 87% became better at problem solving and 87% became more motivated to learn.

National Mentoring Month is the time of year where engagement from community members interested in becoming a mentor is highest.

This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina is encouraging the public to go beyond just digital engagement and become involved in real life. Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through real-life decisions.

To learn more about becoming a Big Brother or a Big Sister in the 18 counties in BBBSWNC’s region, visit bbbswnc.org.

City Hall Wants to Know What Residents Are Thinking

How is the City of Asheville doing? Officials are working with the Polco/National Citizen Survey company to find out.

The National Citizen Survey captures residents’ opinions on governance and participation. Questions drill down to specific issues such as the built environment, community engagement, recreation and wellness, the economy, safety and mobility.

Some residents were randomly selected to participate in the scientifically significant survey in December and were notified by mail.

If you were notified by mail, please do not complete the online survey as well.

To participate in the survey, visit one of the following links: English: https://polco.us/sx4rw7; Spanish: https://polco.us/scyssm; Russian: https://polco.us/s6fvuf.

The survey will be open through Jan. 21. The survey will take about 17 minutes to complete.

When this survey closes, results will be presented online in interactive charts and tables. Asheville’s last citizen survey was conducted in 2018. Results of past surveys can be found at www.ashevillenc.gov/departments/comm_public/transparency.htm.

What will the City do with the results?

National Citizen Survey will compare and analyze the 2021 results with the 2018 results and provide the metrics comparison. As the city enters budget planning season for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the results will help guide the City’s operational planning and help to determine project prioritization and resource allocation.

Project Linus in Need of Blankets

The Western North Carolina chapter of Project Linus has continued providing homemade blankets to children in crisis during the pandemic. As of Dec. 31, 3,611 blankets and quilts have been donated.

While the monthly blanket processing meetings have been cancelled, drop-off collections are ongoing in Asheville at JoAnn Fabric and Craft Store at 80 S. Tunnel Road and Asheville Cotton Company, 1378 Hendersonville Road, Ste. B. For other drop-off locations in Weaverville and Hendersonville, visit projectlinusofwnc.org.

Following collection, the handmade blankets and quilts are stored at the organization’s warehouse until they are distributed.

Blankets can be knitted, quilted, crocheted or no-sew fleece and are made in various sizes appropriate for newborns to teenagers.

For more information, contact Ellen Knoefel, coordinator of the local chapter at 828-645-8800.

Embroidery Guild Finds Creative Ways to Meet During Pandemic

The local chapter of the The Embroiderers’ Guild of America (The Laurel Chapter) has been creative in continuing to hold monthly meetings. The chapter has met outdoors and held virtual meetings. The programs have ranged from instructions on beading projects to surface embroidery items.

In the summer and fall, outdoor stitch-ins were held. In December, a slate of new officers was installed. In addition there are zoom classes, stitch-ins and lectures provided by the Carolinas Region of EGA.

The January program will feature the chapter’s annual outreach for Project Linus, a non-profit that donates handmade blankets to children in crisis. Chapter members will pick up supplies to make no-sew fleece blankets from designated spots in the community. This year, 22 blankets are to be completed at home, then collected and donated.

For more information, visit www.egacarolinas.org, or contact the Membership Director of the Laurel Chapter, Mary Ann Wyatt, at 828-681-0572

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