Local economy shows plenty of signs of rebirth
New business developments in Haywood County provide a reason for optimism that perhaps the economy has bottomed out and is now on the upswing.
There are figures showing that the national unemployment has sunk below 8 percent, statistics indicating that housing sales are inching up and an apparent uptick in consumer confidence. But a tangible reason for confidence lies in the fact that small business owners, service providers and national retailers are expanding.
In Canton, a new hardware store opened on Radio Hill, there’s a new urgent care center just off the interstate, another phase of the Imperial Hotel renovation has added more space to accommodate receptions or business meetings and a number of smaller businesses have opened up.
The west end of Waynesville is downright booming. Though it took a while, Waynesville Commons has most of its available space spoken for. Two new big-box retailers opened in Haywood — PetSmart and Michael’s — and several existing retail organizations are moving to the new complex next to the Super Walmart that opened several years ago.
Old Town Bank broke ground on a two-story, $2.3 million building, and the best news is, the local bank is relying on local building professionals and businessmen to complete the project.
MedWest-Haywood has also invested heavily in the community, opening the first in-patient hospice center in the state west of Asheville and partnering with private physicians to complete and equip a $14 million outpatient service center. The center allows local residents to get state-of-the art procedures without leaving the county.
The expansion at Harrah’s provided job opportunities for many, and expansion of Sonoco, the plastics ware manufacturing plant in Waynesville will do the same.
While new housing starts aren’t what they once were, building permit records show there are several dozen remodeling permits issued each month.
Retail sales have been surprisingly strong as compared to last year, and tourism revenue as indicated by the occupancy tax collection keeps growing as well.
The worrisome spot locally lies with the the uncertain future of MedWest, but the existence of new and updates facilities bodes well even if there are questions about who Haywood will eventually partner with to provide local care in an increasingly complex medical world.
Things are indeed looking up. Haywood not only has one of its finest seasons coming up as fall visitors arrive, but there is plenty of reason to remain hopeful well into winter and next year.