One of the few “arguments” we’ve continually heard from those who are in favor of a building a hot mix asphalt plant in East Flat Rock is that it will bring in new jobs and, therefore, stimulate economic growth in the county. But just how many new jobs will the proposed plant create?
At first, it was 6-7 new full-time jobs.
If you listen to Warren Sugg of Civil Design Concepts in Asheville, NC, during the Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting on June 8, SE Asphalt’s proposed plant will create 6-7 new full-time jobs.
That’s with expected hours of operation “Monday through Saturday, approximately 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, no Sunday work, and night work only required when DOT dictates it.”
Later, it became 20 jobs.
In his open letter, Jeff Shipman stated his plant will provide 20 new jobs, including 6 working directly at the plant plus the extra personnel needed for the additional work generated.
In that same letter, the expected hours of operation changed to “only 5 hours per day, 550 hours yearly” and “183 operating days.”
Asphalt plants are seasonal operations.
We’ve criticized SE Asphalt’s math before, and it seems appropriate to question it once again. Let’s take a look…
There are approximately 261 weekdays in a year, which means the plant could be operational for approximately 70% of the year, or 8.4 months every year (and even less if it’s operating on Saturdays too) based on an expected “183 operating days” per year. It takes time to preheat the baghouse before production and cool it after production, so let’s call “5 hours per day” a full 8-hour shift. And asphalt plants require very few personnel to run them, but let’s be generous and estimate 2-3 employees per shift.
That’s 2-3 seasonal jobs per year – not exactly a huge economic boon for Henderson County, especially when you consider nearby business owners like Matt Elledge of Paramount Produce, who employs 20 full-time workers who worry their jobs will be jeopardized by the air quality of a neighboring asphalt plant billowing out dust and pollution.
Asphalt plants aren’t good business for other businesses.
Paramount Produce is just one of dozens of businesses, small and large, who are concerned that a hot mix asphalt plant will jeopardize their financial stability.
Missy Schenck, Executive Director of Green River Preserve, says of the 20 summer camps in Henderson County, 12 will be directly impacted by the construction of a hot mix asphalt plant in East Flat Rock. Those camps in Henderson County employ approximately 3,500 people, generate $120 million in annual revenue, and contribute nearly $10 million in tax revenue each year.
GE Current, the largest employer in East Flat Rock, says, “We believe an asphalt plant as a neighbor would decrease our property value, esthetics and quality of life for 300 employees, many of whom live in the area. Therefore, we respectfully request that you deny the conditional use rezoning application submitted by SE Asphalt.”
And John Mason, who owns a small cattle farm in the Grimesdale community next to the Tarheel Asphalt Plant, says “You should be terrified.”