Mountain Area Works Highlights
  • Asheville metro unemployment rate 2.6% December 2021
  • Transylvania Alliance Announces New Executive Director
  • Richmond Fed President "I do think there is an opportunity to get more people in the workforce"
  • 14 million Americans stopped working because they had COVID or caring for someone with the virus
  • Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. Laura Leatherwood named NCCCS President of the Year
  • Future Focused, Career Ready.
  • Building from the bottom up - what businesses can do to strengthen the bottom line by investing in front-line workers
  • The pluses and perils of working remotely
  • Public Comment on Proposed 2022 Updates to WIOA Unified State Plan
  • Charles George VA Medical Center job fair at NCWorks Career Center Asheville attracts 140+ job seekers
  • New and expanded healthcare programs at Blue Ridge Community College
  • Anderson Automotive Group shares successful hiring at Mountain Area Workforce Development Board hiring events
  • AB Tech, Goodwill, Biltmore taking Career Pipeline applicants for apprenticeship program
  • Local job market: Over 24,000 job openings in Asheville area, scarcity of workers
  • The Great Resignation: Why more Americans are quitting their jobs than ever before
  • As housing costs increase, so does the standard for living wage for the Asheville area
  • NCWorks Career Center Asheville workshops February and March 2022
  • Average wage Asheville metro $26.80 per hour as of December 2021
  • The most unusual job market in modern American history, explained
  • NCSU Emerging Issues Forum: Enhancing NC's workforce through educational attainment - virtual meeting
  • Mountain Area Workforce Development Board 2021 Recognition Awards
  • NC's unemployment rate drops to 3.7% in December
  • 727 individuals filed an unemployment claim in our region for December 2021
  • NCWorks: Work on What's Next
  • Mountain Area Careers
Labor Market Update
As of December 2021, 7,831 more people working compared to December 2020. 1,241 more people working compared to November 2021.

5,584 unemployed individuals in December 2021, compared to 6,038 in November 2021 compared to 6,547 in October 2021 6,917 in September 2021.

Total Labor Force 215,606.
Total Employed Labor Force 210,022.
Labor Force Change Compared to Five Years Ago
Employed Change Compared to Five Years Ago
Unemployed Change Compared to Five Years Ago
Unemployment Rate
Asheville metro unemployment rate at 2.6%, #2 lowest of any NC metro
Asheville metro now (as of December 2021) continues to have the #2 lowest unemployment of any NC metro at 2.6%. This rate is 3.3% points lower than the metro unemployment rate of 5.9% of one year ago. All counties in our region have unemployment rates below the state unemployment rate of 3.7%.

Buncombe 2.6%

Haywood 2.7%

Henderson 2.5%
Madison 2.7%

Transylvania 2.7%

Compared to December 2020, the Asheville metro added 5,700 jobs and compared to November 2021 the Asheville metro added 1,800 jobs.

Compared to December 2020, the Leisure & Hospitality sector added 13.6% (3,200 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector, Other Services added 4.4% (400 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector, Information added 6.3%(100 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector, Manufacturing added 3.3% (700 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector, Government added 4.3% (1,100 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector, Education & Health Services lost 3.1% (-1,100 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector. Mining Logging & Construction added 6.3% (600 jobs), Professional & Business Services was unchanged, Financial Activities added 1.6% (100 jobs) of the total jobs in the sector, and Trade, Transportation & Utilities (600 jobs) added 1.6% of the total jobs in the sector.

Asheville metro has the #9 greatest increase in jobs (3.0%) out of NC's 15 metros in the past year. Our region's job growth relative to other regions in NC appears to be slowing as the Asheville metro has consistently been near the top of job growth until June 2021. The monthly labor market data releases are subject to adjustment and this may be a statistical aberration. Year over Year job growth by metro:

  1. Wilmington 6.9%
  2. Durham/Chapel Hill 4.8%
  3. Greenville 4.8%
  4. Hickory/Lenoir/Morganton 4.2%
  5. Raleigh 4.0%
  6. Burlington 3.7%
  7. Charlotte/Concord/Gastonia 3.3%
  8. Winston-Salem 3.2%
  9. Asheville 3.0%
  10. Fayetteville 3.0%
  11. Greensboro/High Point 2.6%
  12. Goldsboro 1.7%
  13. Jacksonville 1.6%
  14. Rocky Mount 1.6%
  15. New Bern 1.4%
Asheville MSA Industry Jobs Compared To One Year Ago
NC's December County and Area Employment Numbers Released

Unemployment rates (not seasonally adjusted) decreased in 91 of NC’s counties in December, increased in four, and remained unchanged in five. Scotland County had the highest unemployment rate at 6.9% while Orange County had the lowest at 2.2%.

Read more
Asheville metro unemployment rate of 2.6% as of December 2021 is the lowest for the region since December 1999
The last time our region's unemployment rate was as low as it is now was December 1999 when it was 2.2%. The lowest rate for the region since 1990 was September 1999 at 2.0%.
Transylvania Economic Alliance Announces New Executive Director
Transylvania Economic Alliance Announces New Exec Director

The Transylvania Economic Alliance has announced that Burton Hodges has been selected as its new executive director. Hodges comes to the position in Transylvania County with economic development experience in the region and personal ties ...

Read more
"I do think there's an opportunity to get more people in the workforce"
Federal Reserve President Tom Barkin on CNBC

'I do think there's an opportunity to get more people in the workforce'

Read more
14 million Americans stopped working because they had COVID or caring for someone with virus
14m ppl stopped working b/c had COVID or caring for someone

How big a toll has omicron had on the economy? Economists have been scratching their heads for weeks to estimate the damage the highly contagious COVID-19 variant is causing. The U.S. Census Bureau has some early answers.

Read more
Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. Laura Leatherwood named NCCCS President of the Year
Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. Laura Leatherwood

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. - Blue Ridge Community College President, Dr. Laura Leatherwood, has been named the 2022 President of the Year by the State Board of Community Colleges for NC. Leatherwood was selected from among 58 community college presidents.

Read more
Dr Laura Leatherwood named NCCCS President of the Year

RALEIGH - The State Board of Community Colleges has bestowed the President of the Year Award to Dr. Laura Leatherwood of Blue Ridge Community College.

Read more
Future Focused, Career Ready.
Future Focused, Career Ready

The workforce is rapidly evolving. More jobs than ever before require post-secondary education and durable skills like strong communication and leadership. Add to that, North Carolina is a leading state for business expansion.

Read more
Building from the bottom up - what businesses can do to strengthen the bottom line by investing in front-line workers
Building From the Bottom Up

America's lowest earners are also its most essential workers: truck drivers, packers & shippers, grocery clerks, servers, healthcare assts, housekeepers, & janitors. Despite working long hrs in difficult jobs, many are trapped in low wage jobs.

Read more
The pluses and perils of working remotely
The pluses and perils of working remotely

Two years into a global pandemic, more and more people are looking for work-from-home options, particularly in Western North Carolina.

Read more
Public Comment on Proposed 2022 Updates to WIOA Unified State Plan
Proposed 2022 Updates to WIOA Unified State Plan

This plan will guide implementation of the Act in our state from 2020 through 2024. The NCWorks Commission and North Carolina’s workforce development system partners have developed this draft, which can be reviewed here.

Read more
Charles George VA Medical Center job fair at NCWorks Career Center Asheville attracts 140+ job seekers
Charles George VA Medical Center hosted a job fair on Wednesday, January 19 at the NCWorks Career Center Asheville located at 48 Grove Street. The job fair attracted over 140 job seekers including 23 local veterans. HR representatives from seven different departments were represented and interviews were conducted for everything from Registered Nurses and CNAs to Food Service, Housekeeping and Law Enforcement.
New and expanded healthcare programs at Blue Ridge Community College
New and expanded healthcare programs at Blue Ridge CC

This year and into 2023, Blue Ridge CC is strategically expanding its healthcare programs, including a respiratory therapy program that will launch in Fall 2023 and a larger nursing program to support the growing demand for healthcare professionals.

Read more
Anderson Automotive Group shares success hiring at Mountain Area Workforce Development Board hiring events
"Anderson Automotive Group would like to thank the Land of Sky Regional Council and the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board for the resources they provide to employers like us. In 2021 we attended both the $18 per Hour and Beyond Job Fair and the WNC Career Expo. We were fortunate enough to hire 6 talented individuals from both of those events combined. Those 6 individuals are still working for us today and they have helped us to grow our business. We look forward to attending more local events in the future with our Fred Anderson Toyota of Asheville, Fred Anderson Nissan of Asheville, and Prestige Subaru stores."
AB Tech, Goodwill, Biltmore taking Career Pipeline applicants for apprenticeship program
A-B Tech, Goodwill, Biltmore taking Career Pipeline program

Applications are being accepted for the Career Pipeline program, which serves individuals in the community who have low levels of literacy and/or disabilities. A-B Tech, Goodwill, Biltmore taking Career Pipeline applicants for.apprenticeship program.

Read more
Local job market: Over 24,000 job openings in Asheville area; scarcity of workers
Local job market: Over 24,000 job openings in Asheville area

These days, "fully staffed" is a malleable term. "We've basically had to adjust everything, based on the amount of people you can have (on a shift)," said Barry Bialik, who owns the Thirsty Monk brewpubs in Asheville and Biltmore Park.

Read more
The Great Resignation: Why more Americans are quitting their jobs than ever before
Great Resignation: Why more Americans quitting their jobs

And now, the Omicron variant is taking a toll on the already depleted workforce. We've wondered how there can be so many open jobs when nearly every employer seems to be offering better pay, benefits and even signing bonuses.

Read more
So You Want a New Job? Here's How to Retrain
So You Want a New Job? Here's How to Retrain - NerdWallet

The tens of millions of workers who have left their jobs in the "Great Resignation" - 4.4 million in September alone, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics - won't necessarily need to retrain before they land their next job.

Read more
Asheville metro unemployment rate of 2.6% as of December 2021 is the lowest for the region since December 1999
The last time our region's unemployment rate was as low as it is now was December 1999 when it was 2.2%. The lowest rate for the region since 1990 was September 1999 at 2.0%.
As housing costs increase, so does the standard for living wage for the Asheville area
As housing costs increase, so does standard for living wage

Asheville's living wage has gone up. A person now needs to make $17. 70 an hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Buncombe County. "In regards to North Carolina, we have one of the most drastic differences between wages and housing costs".

Read more
NCWorks Career Center Asheville workshops February and March 2022
Average wage Asheville metro $26.80 per hour as of December 2021
Compared to North Carolina average at $29.24 and national average at $31.31. The $26.80 average wage for the Asheville metro is close to an all-time record of $27.19 in October 2021.
The most unusual job market in modern American history, explained
The most unusual job mrkt in modern USA history, explained

These two forces collided to create the most unusual job market in living memory - and an economy afflicted not by too few jobs, but too few workers. For those looking for employment or to change jobs,the 2021 economy has been a blessing...

Read more
NCSU Emerging Issues Forum: Enhancing NC's workforce through educational attainment
Advancing Together: The 2022 Emerging Issues Forum

A s our economy grows the vast majority of new jobs will require more than a high school diploma. Today, less than half of North Carolinians ages 25-44 are ready for this work.

Read more
Mountain Area Workforce Development Board 2021 Recogntion Awards
MAWDB Outstanding Business Partner – Transylvania County  
SylvanSport was founded in 2004 by Tom Dempsey to enable outdoor adventure through innovative gear. Dempsey’s love for the area began in college when he climbed on Looking Glass Rock and decided to one day, return to live in Brevard. Combine a background in architecture and design with an outdoor enthusiast who wants to make playing in the outdoors fun and easy, and you get the GO camping trailer and the GO kayak trailer. These flagship products have global distribution in over 20 countries.
Fast forward to December 2019. Poised to launch their first line of new outdoor gear, the pandemic hit. Zero sales for two months. To keep the doors open for 32 employees, and business going, SylvanSport chose to pivot. On a dime, the company began manufacturing PPE supplies and completely overhauled its online presence. Dempsey stated in a press release in April 2020, that “SylvanSport had an obligation to provide protection for both their employees, clients, and visitors.” To start, his team began making face shields and protective counter shields. These products were used in our NCWorks Centers, schools, and the Land of Sky office. Orders began to exceed expectations and Dempsey’s team stepped up design and produced disposable face shields, counter guards, and foot-activated door openers. Dempsey’s background as an FDA-approved medical device manufacturer proved useful in ensuring their products’ integrity. SylvanSport’s international supply chain connections were essential in finding much-needed PPE such as face masks. While the immediate COVID crisis has slowed and production of outdoor products has resumed, SylvanSport maintains a certain level of PPE for future use. “In March 2020 we didn’t take much time to think about what to do, we just did – meaning we jumped in to making PPE over a weekend, and that speedy decision proved to be vital to our ability to deliver.” said Dempsey.
WNC is incredibly fortunate to have a local manufacturer that responded quickly to a health crisis, and produced PPE to ensure that medical facilities, schools, businesses, county governments and many others could remain open and continue to serve the public. It is with great appreciation that the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board recognizes SylvanSport as an Outstanding Business Partner for its’ heroic effort during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Hunter Automotive Group
MAWDB Outstanding Business Partner – Henderson County  
Hunter Automotive Group has served the Hendersonville area for three quarters of a century and has cultivated deep roots in the community. This family run business has been a champion in economic and workforce development for years.
Most recently, the Hunter leadership team reached out to discuss the transformational career pathway called Apprenticeship.
The Blue Ridge Community College team worked with Hunter and other area dealerships alongside the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce to determine the best educational and on-the-job plan to deploy. The result: a six semester, 720-contact hour, 4000-hour on-the-job training registered apprenticeship program. The Earn while You Learn program is a very competitive program. The apprentice attends class one day a week at Blue Ridge learning from our talented team of automotive instructors while being paid by their employer and then working at their respective employer the rest of the week under the guidance of a seasoned knowledgeable mentor. With Apprenticeship Blue Ridge, the apprentice receives free tuition. There is a multitude of stackable credentials earned throughout the program. Upon successful completion of the related instruction and on-the-job training, the apprentice receives a NCDOL and USDOL Journeyman Certificate in Automotive Technician Specialist – Lead Tech “A”.
Hunter Automotive Group’s vision led seven other dealerships to join the program…but most importantly, has launched 24 recent high school graduates over the last two years on a career path of their dreams!
On behalf of Blue Ridge Community College and the Henderson County NCWorks Career Center, I am proud to nominate Hunter Automotive Group as the “2021 Outstanding Partner of Year Champions for Henderson County”.
Astral Designs
MAWDB Business Accelerator Grant-Incumbent Worker Training – Buncombe County   
Astral Designs, “Astral”, located in Asheville’s River District, was founded in 2002 by Philip Curry, CEO. The company’s focus is on designing the best performing products for wilderness athletes. The company is committed to building products in the least toxic, lowest-impact way; always putting Nature First. Astral employs a team of 16 athletes, artists, and craftspeople and is widely known for their life jackets and quick-dry river shoes.
In 2020, amid Covid, Astral was realizing growth and saw the need to grow their employee’s skill sets.  There were gaps in the functionality of their new ERP system, in the leadership team, and in the human resources department. With a substantial software investment, Astral needed to build process efficiencies, improve customer service, and strengthen their leadership team. In addition, they were striving to create an exceptional culture for the organization and improve retention.
Through Mountain Area Regional Business Services’ competitively awarded Business Accelerator Grant, Astral was awarded $7,495 in WIOA Adult funding in September 2020 to address the company’s training needs. Eleven employees participated in one or more trainings for NetSuite/Oracle software, DISC Leadership, and human resources. training. The pandemic delayed the start of training, so the bulk of training occurred between February and August 2020. Several outcomes were realized from the training in leadership, workflows, inventory management, HR practices, and employee retention.
Astral estimates that the process improvements will save the company $10,000 over the next year. James Trombley, Operations Manager, said “the NetSuite/Oracle training has helped Astral improve process efficiencies and business effectiveness. The Leadership training provided collaboration and networking during a time when interpersonal connections were low. It was such a relief to know that the training was not placing further financial stress on Astral.”
Mountain Area is delighted to recognize Astral Designs as an Outstanding Employer for their use of the Business Accelerator Grant for Incumbent Worker Training.
Deringer-Ney, Inc.
Outstanding Business Partner – Madison County   
The Deringer Manufacturing Company was founded over 60 years ago and has been recognized as a market leader for the supply of electrical contact parts and assemblies. The business has diversified through the years and now includes the capability to produce ultra-small, precision metal components utilizing a unique MICROmfg™ cold forming technology. They provide components to a diverse customer base with major customers in the automotive, appliance controls, electrical controls, military & aerospace as well as medical equipment and device industries. Manufacturing centers are located in Marshall North Carolina and Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. The Marshall, NC facility began its operation in 1972.
The J.M. Ney Company was founded in 1812 and initially offered gold refining services and was one of the first companies to do so in North America. From the mid 1800’s through the latter part of the 20th century the company continued to expand capabilities and developed new custom alloys and precision components for many industrial, automotive and emerging electronic device applications.
In 2002, the Deringer Manufacturing Company and the J.M. Ney Company was combined to form Deringer-Ney, Inc. Today they are a global market leader in the invention and application of custom precious metal alloys and precision machined, stamped, insert molded and wire formed components for a diverse global customer base. Applications include automotive position sensing, low current sliding electrical contacts, dental implant materials and components, military and aerospace components and materials and components for interventional and implantable medical devices.
When its manufacturing operation began at the Marshall location in 1972, good paying jobs, opportunities for advancement and company culture soon made Deringer a desirable and sought-after place of employment. For almost 50 years the facility in Marshall has not only provided employment opportunities but also opportunities for training, advancement and a career path in our community. During the past year, NCWorks-Madison has assisted Derringer-Ney with job postings, recruitment and outreach for their available positions. They are currently willing to train individuals with no experience in manufacturing and are hopeful they will soon be able to establish a training program for high school students.
NCWorks-Madison looks forward to helping Deringer-Ney celebrate your 50 years of operation in Madison County and your continued success in the future.
Rivers Whittle
Goodwill Industries-OSY Program-Buncombe County 
Goodwill’s NCWorks NextGen program is proud to recognize Rivers Whittle as its Outstanding Participant for Buncombe County 2021. Rivers started working with NextGen in February 2021, with the goal of earning his High School Equivalency (HSE) diploma and developing a plan for post-secondary education.
Rivers struggled with traditional high school and left prior to earning his diploma. When he enrolled with NextGen, it was clear that he was driven, intelligent, motivated, and had a great deal of potential. As I learned more about Rivers, he shared that he had been in a very serious hiking accident and suffered many broken bones in his back and throughout his body. His recovery process has been a long one, and Rivers continues to travel his healing path with grace and determination. The accident greatly re-shaped Rivers’ perspective on life and has made him passionate about helping others.
While working with NextGen, Rivers worked diligently to improve his basic skills. Navigating school during a pandemic was not easy, but he’s used to doing hard things. He took his final test and earned his HSE diploma in August.
He’s currently completing a paid workplace experience through NextGen, where he is gaining valuable experience and developing an excellent work ethic. He earns nothing but glowing reviews from the business, and they have been an ardent supporter and advocate for Rivers.
As Rivers wraps up the workplace experience, he’s looking forward to the future. He is dedicated to earning a post-secondary degree and is applying to Warren Wilson College to continue his education to help make the world a better place.
Rivers is a great example of how obstacles can shape our paths rather than block them. The Goodwill NCWorks NextGen program congratulations Rivers on all his success and can’t wait to see where life takes him next!
Leah Parris
Goodwill Industries-OSY Program-Transylvania County    
Leah joined the NextGen program in March of 2020. She was living at the Haven and was working hard on completing her Hiset tests to receive her High School Equivalency (HSE). She tested and passed both her math and reading exams and scored college-ready even though she left school in 9th grade.
Things were starting to move forward for her. Then the pandemic hit. Leah’s son was out of school and she was continuing to study virtually. She was able to find her own housing but decided to put school on hold until she knew what was going to happen with her sons’ schedule. The program kept in touch with Leah during the pandemic through phone calls and meeting outside. Leah accomplished many goals during that time like getting her permit, a car, and maintaining housing.
Leah was ready to jump back into her goals this fall. Once Leah is committed, she excels. She went back to Blue Ridge Community College to study for her HSE diploma and is ready to take two more exams. She plans to have completed her degree December 2021.
Leah also needed support for employment. Even with the open job market, like other students, Leah found it hard to obtain employment. The program helped set Leah up in a paid work experience that would give her professional experience, help start her career, addressing gaps in her resume, and help her to support herself during school. Leah is interested in interior design and event planning. Leah is working at a local boutique that specializes in these areas. Her worksite appreciates her work ethic, and she is receiving many skills to transfer to future work environments.
Leah is a great example of an outstanding participant. She diligently works on things that are important but sacrifices when her family needs it. The Goodwill NCWorks Next Gen program is so happy to see her reaching her goals.
Hannah Shipman
Henderson County Schools - OSY Program       
Henderson County Public Schools NCWorks NextGen program recognizes Hannah Shipman as its outstanding participant for 2021. Hannah was enrolled in the WIOA Out-of-School Youth program in 2020. Over the past year as a single parent, Hannah has balanced going to school, working and being a full-time mom to her two year old daughter.
Hannah is consistent with showing up to school regularly and turning in her assignments. IN her classes, Hannah is in good standing and her teachers speak well of her and she has developed relationships with all staff members at the Career Academy. While Hannah’s focus is on graduating, she wants to pursue Cosmetology after receiving her high school diploma.
Hannah has maintained her job at Zaxby’s for over a year now and she has managed to create a schedule that works for her, enabling her to work and come to school every day.
Hannah is a great mom to her daughter, making sure that she gets quality time with her when she is not going to school or working. You can tell when she speaks of her daughter how much she loves her. Hannah is driven and works hard to provide more opportunities for their future.
In addition, Hannah actively participates in the Adult Parenting Program, and she is involved in the Hospitality Club at the Career Academy. She is working towards getting her driver’s license and will soon complete the driver’s education course.
It is with great pleasure that the NextGen program recognizes Hannah, and it is well-deserved recognition.
Jacqueline Ballard
NCWorks Career Center Madison County     
Jacqueline Ballard was working as a Patient Services Representative for a medical office in Tennessee when she was furloughed due to COVID. Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and the unknown length of her furlough she began to search for other employment opportunities in the Madison/Buncombe County area.
Through outreach and advertising of the NCWorks-Career Center Madison office, Jacqueline found out about the National Dislocated Worker Grant (NDWG)-Temporary Employment program for COVID-19 Contact Tracing positions with the Madison County Health Department. These were time-limited, grant funded positions made possible through NDWG funds obtained by the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board. The goal of these time-limited work experience positions were to minimize the employment and economic impact caused by the Public Health Emergency – COVID-19. Jacqueline applied and was accepted to participate in this program as a Contact Tracer. Even though, this was a time limited position she understood this would be a great way to develop additional skills, network for future job opportunities and serve in her community.
Jacqueline began the Contact Tracer position on January 4, 2021, and quickly began developing new skills and utilizing her previous experience to serve her community in this important role. Jacqueline said one of the things she liked the most about this position was working in her community. Since this was a time limited position with no guarantee of permanent employment Jacqueline knew she needed to remain aware of other opportunities. In June she was hired by another community health organization for a similar position with long term potential. She is now using the skills and partnerships she developed while in the Contact Tracer position to continue serving the community.
Laurie Sykes
MAWDB Regional Business Services/On-the-Job Training Program
Laurie was laid off from Cliff’s Closet in December 2019 due to COVID. She had been in recovery since 2011 and was the House Manager for Biltmore’s Women’s Sober Living house for five years. Laurie earned her Peer Support Specialist Certification in 2019 and worked in peer support at Biltmore Housing. While drawing UI and working with Philip Cooper, Laurie enrolled at A-B Tech through the STEP Program. Through a referral from Philip, Barbara learned that Laurie’s career goal was to work as a Peer Support Specialist.
In December 2020, Laurie was enrolled in WIOA’s Dislocated Worker program and began On-the-Job Training as a WARM Line Support Specialist at Sunrise Community Recovery & Wellness in Asheville. As part of her OJT, she completed The Recovery Coach Academy and Alternatives 2 Suicide trainings.
Soon, Laurie was promoted to Respite Team Lead where she coordinated the Respite Program and supervised Respite Peer Support Specialists at the Blair Clark Respite House. While training at Sunrise, Laurie continued her coursework at A-B Tech and earned a Certificate in Human Services and Substance Abuse Counseling in June 2021. In addition, Laurie completed the Community Health Worker certificate program through Catawba Valley Community College. Currently Laurie is the Training & Event Coordinator/Center Staff at Sunrise.
Laurie’s journey to recovery has involved a strong support system and a high degree of self-motivation. Laurie talks daily with her Sponsor who she met while incarcerated and who has been with her for seven years. Additionally, Workforce staff, Philip Cooper, Stacy Peek, and Irene Canivet were encouragers and assisted her with her educational pursuits.
The WIOA-funded OJT program helped Laurie transition into a career with growth opportunity. In July 2021, Laurie was financially able to move into an apartment and several friends and Land of Sky staff helped her with furnishings. Now Laurie is sponsoring a young lady who is struggling with substance use disorder. She is registered with the NC Addictions Specialist Board as an intern and is working toward becoming a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor.
With Laurie’s determination, lived experience, and passion for helping others, she will continue to make progress in her career, and with her educational and personal goals. Mountain Area is delighted to recognize Laurie as an Outstanding OJT Participant for 2021.
Valerie Ayala
NCWorks Career Center Brevard
Valerie Ayala is an amazing woman. She has faced many struggles in her life, the last being the death of her son several years ago. Not only has she had family struggles she has had to deal with health issues that sometimes prevented her from working. As she would tell you “she has been on the bottom many times but has gotten herself back on the top.”
Taking advantage of programs like Work First and Getting Ahead Valerie has once again gotten herself to the top. She has been a regular customer in the NCWorks Career Center. Although a little hesitant when she first came in, she came almost daily for several hours. The staff in the center encouraged Valerie to begin applying for jobs as she had some great job skills. Several months ago she was hired at Brevard College in the cafeteria. Raising two sons brings on challenges themselves but Valerie is determined to “stay on the top.”
Denise Roberts
MAWDB Regional Business Services - Dislocated Worker Training
Denise Roberts moved to Asheville in 2019 where she was employed as a physical therapy assistant with a Skilled Nursing Facility. She was laid off due to COVID in January 2020 and was not able to find immediate employment due to changes in Medicaid reimbursement for PTAs. With 20 years’ experience as a PTA, she didn’t want to change careers. Upon a visit to NCWorks-Asheville, Denise learned of the Asheville 50+ Group and signed up for the class led by Irene Canivet. Denise met Barbara Darby through the class and was enrolled in WIOA in December 2020. 
Barbara and Denise researched additional training and credentials that would broaden Denise’s healthcare skills. Supported with WIOA dislocated worker formula funds, Denise began on-line training in February 2021 to obtain an Advanced Competency in Home Health (ACHH) through the American Physical Therapy Association. She successfully completed all program educational and examination requirements and was certified on April 25, 2021. In addition, Denise completed Basic Life Support training through the American Heart Association at Blue Ridge Community College on April 16, 2021.  
Although Denise was seeking full time employment, she accepted PRN work with a rural medical office. Denise sought other opportunities and accepted two additional PRN jobs in home health and a hospital setting. Balancing three jobs isn’t easy but Denise feels fortunate to be gaining valuable experience beyond the normal PTA role. Her earnings are comparable to previous wages, and she has found reasonable healthcare through the national marketplace. Denise’s success is due to her positive attitude and energy, flexibility, and passion for her field. Mountain Area is delighted to recognize Denise Roberts as an Outstanding WIOA Participant – Training and Credential Attainment.
Stacy Hill
HRD Employability Instructor, Blue Ridge Community College, NCWorks Career Center Henderson County
Stacy Hill is a great example of what the Deborah Holbrooks Customer Service Recognition is all about. Stacy has worked many years in the NCWorks Career Center at Blue Ridge Community College through various roles.
Currently. Stacy is serving as the HRD Faculty Lab Instructor for the College. Stacy places the job seekers’ needs first and foremost. She is always looking for a way to lift a client up to achieve their goals.
Stacy is a mentor, coach, cheerleader, teacher, and so much more. She is a true example both professionally and personally of what a public servant should be.
For her many years of excellent Customer Service provided to job seekers, and coworkers alike, Blue Ridge Community College/NCWorks is honored to confer upon Stacy Hill the Deborah Holbrooks Customer Service Recognition.
Marc Czarnecki
Mountain Area Workforce Development Board and WNC Broadband
The Experienced Workforce Initiative (EWI) Award is given to an individual in Western North Carolina for outstanding leadership in promoting engagement of adults age 50+ in the workforce continuum, including volunteer work, stipend-based training, entrepreneurship, and/or part-time and full-time employment. We are pleased to announce our 2021 recipient, Marc Czarnecki.
Marc Czarnecki has championed, modeled, and tirelessly supported 50+ workers and the experienced workforce continuum with more energy and enthusiasm than one might otherwise believe to be possible from one individual.
As a volunteer, Marc helped establish the Experienced Workforce Initiative in 2017. Since then, he has participated in planning and promoting EWI events using technology and social media platforms. Marc took the initiative to create, and now actively maintains, EWI’s website, blog, LinkedIn page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel, and Facebook page!
As the entrepreneurial ‘Web Tech Czar’, Marc is continually advocating for EWI and its mission. He promotes and supports people 50+ with technical training and consultation everywhere he goes, including through his part-time and contract work with the Land of Sky Regional Council at NC Works Career Center in Asheville; the Digital Literacy Network; the WNC Broadband Project; RN Patient Advocacy NC; continuing education at AB Tech; and his work with Western Carolina Rescue Ministries.
Marc is always thinking outside of the box and empowering people age 50+ to access and use technology. His talent and success make him one of those rare individuals who impacts not only individuals, but whole communities at the same time!
Thank you, Marc Czarnecki – for so generously sharing your talents with and on behalf of the Experienced Workforce Initiative, and for your leadership and support for experienced workers! Congratulations!
North Carolina's unemployment rate drops to 3.7% in December
NC's unemployment rate drops to 3.7% in December 2021

NC's unemployment rate dropped to 3.7% in December, according to the latest data from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The state's seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 3.7% in December decreased from a rate of 3.9% in November.

Read more
727 people filed for unemployment benefits in our region during December
Buncombe: 448

Henderson: 192

Madison: 42

Transylvania: 45

TOTAL: 1,052

Unemployment Claims by Sector in our Region

Leisure & Hospitality 126 (17.3%)
Trade Transportation & Utilities 169 (23.2%)
Unclassified/Unknown 49 (6.7%)
Educational & Health Services 202 (27.8%)
Manufacturing 116 (16.0%)
Other Services 33 (4.5%)
Professional & Business Services 147 (20.2%)
Construction 80 (11.0%)
Financial Activities 70 (9.6%)
Information 24 (3.3%)
Public Administration 46 (6.3%)
Natural Resources & Mining 5 (0.7%)
Workbook: Regional UI Dashboard

December 2021

Read more
Mountain Area Careers
NC Jobs | Mountain Area Careers | Western North Carolina

Create Your Future in the Mountains of Western North Carolina. Find jobs from great employers. Earn a steady living and advance your career.

Read more