LA 31 Class Research Projects Asheville's Blue Ridge

In October 2012, the Leadership Asheville 31 Class began community research to learn more about living wages, the local economy and how to improve the financial security of low-income earners. Class members concluded that many workers in Asheville and Buncombe County face the challenge of low wages along with other economic issues. Leadership Asheville 31 has chosen to form teams focused on the four most important issues currently facing low income and middle class workers in the WNC region: housing, childcare, wellness, and transportation. In order to highlight these issues and explore possible solutions a series of community service projects have been designed by the LA 31 teams and include collaborations with Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO), Pisgah View Center, YMCA, and the 3-2-1-Almost None campaign.

Research interviews included the following people and organizations:

Vicki Meath-Executive Director Just Economics
Cynthia Grady-Director of Human Resources, Asheville City Schools
Brenda Rhinehart-Benefits Specialist, Asheville City Schools
Karen Vernon-Vice President of Human Resources, Carepartners Health Services
Scott Dedman-Founder and Executive Director Mountain Housing Opportunities
Esther Manheimer-Vice Mayor, City Council Member, City of Asheville
Jeff Staudinger-Director of Community Development, City of Asheville
Two Economists UNCA
Montreat College Staff
Matt Raker-Vice President of Entrepeneurship and Advantage Green with Advantage West
Dr Steve Ha-Associate Professor of Economics, Western Carolina University
Oscar Wong-Founder and President Highland Brewing Company
Beth Maczka-Executive Director Asheville YWCA
Tim Lampkin-Director of Business Development, Asheville Chamber of Commerce
Debbie Motz-Executive Director of Eastern Outdoor Reps Association
Darla Barlett- HR, Chimney Rock Park
Al Mathews-Manager of the Town of Canton, Haywood County
Ellen Steele-Western Carolina Industries
Sam Powers-Economic Development Director, City of Asheville
Angie Chandler- Executive Director, Blue Ridge National Heritage Area
Tom Dempsey-President, SylvanSport
Mark Burrows-Director of Planning and Economic Development, Transylvania County
Heidi Kinsey, HR Director, Nantahala Outdoor Center

Interested in learning more?

Read our class research from the fall of 2012 and the spring of 2013:


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