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Features Business & Finance

Franklin's business landscape is undergoing some big changes, a sign that maybe better times are ahead for the local economy.

Franklin’s Main Street is bustling, with the biggest problem these days being findind a parking space on either end of the street. New shops have found their homes along Main Street, and after hours, the sidewalks are actually lined with visitors, something Franklin’s main street has long since struggled to do consistently.

But main street isn’t the only thing changing. From both ends of Franklin, older buildings such as the Dan’s Auto building or Ace Hardware have gotten a facelift, with new store fronts and more shopper friendly parking lots.


Exorbitant student loans constitute just one reason why young people eager to experience the world may want to reconsider college, says Ed Basler, a veteran entrepreneur.

There is now $1.2 trillion worth of college debt in the United States and the average borrower will graduate $26,600 in the red, according to The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) Project on Student Debt.

“None of this guarantees a job or even that a college grad will be job-ready,” says Basler, CEO of E.J. Basler Co., (www.ejbasler.com).


A little over a year ago, Lenny Jordan and Ken Murphy approached the Franklin Board of Aldermen with a proposed lease agreement that would turn the old town hall into Franklin's first microbrewery.

Just 10 years ago, restaurants in Macon County couldn't serve liquor by the drink, but now, Franklin has joined towns all over Western North Carolina in branding itself with a hometown brewery, Lazy Hiker Brewing Co.

"In my opinion, this is one of the best examples of the re-use of a building anywhere," said Franklin Mayor Bob Scott. "Twenty years or so ago I would have never thought this could happen."


Business leaders from throughout Macon County gathered at the fellowship hall at Holly Springs Baptist Church to hear remarks from Scott T. Hamilton, executive director of the Appalachian Regional Commission. Hamilton was the 2015 BizWeek Banquet keynote speaker and praised Macon County for being an innovative leader in the Appalachian economy.

"Macon County is one of the fastest growing counties in North Carolina," said Hamilton during his address. "It is impressive what you have down here. Macon County and the economic strides you have made is an example for the rest of Appalachia."


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