50th Annual Macon County 2015 GEMBOREE :: Thursday, July 23 through Sunday, July 26 :: CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS!

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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."


Business leaders in Macon County poured into The Bowery on Main Street on Tuesday night for the 5th annual BizWeek Networking Night. From established business owners to budding young entrepreneurs, people mingled before sitting down to listen to Asheville's 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year, Justin Belleme.

Belleme shared with attendees the story of how he started his first entrepreneurial venture at the age of six, when he started a snake removal service, and how he is now on the cusp of building an online marketing empire in Asheville through his company, JB Media Group.


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