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 ADVISORY

For immediate use

May 15, 2001 -- No. 246

Local angles: Mount Holly, Huntersville, Marshall

Tar Heel Bus Tour to visit textile mill, smart-growth site, rural health clinic, Wednesday, May 23

Updates on the textiles industry, the smart-growth movement in new home building and the challenges of providing health care in a low-income, rural area will be among educational topics today for 32 new faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the 2001 Tar Heel Bus Tour.

They will tour the American & Efird Textile Mill in Mount Holly and the Vermillion smart-growth development in Huntersville. In the afternoon, they'll hear a presentation on operations and limitations at the Hot Springs Health Program in Marshall. The faculty will conclude their day with exposure to traditional North Carolina mountain music and dancing at the Balsam Mountain Inn.

Tour purpose:

The 1,100-mile tour’s 16 stops Monday (May 21) through Friday (May 25) are designed to teach new faculty about North Carolina’s people, geography, economy, culture, history, schools and health and social issues. The privately funded tour, conducted annually since 1997, aims to help new faculty better understand the cities, towns and rural areas where 82 percent of Carolina undergraduates grow up. They also learn what types of faculty research and public service are needed to help the state, and they see such UNC outreach projects already under way.

Wednesday’s Carolina connections: Gaston County (Mount Holly) is home to 266 Carolina students and 1,504 UNC alumni; Mecklenburg County (Huntersville), to 1,756 Carolina students and 12,833 alumni; Madison County (Marshall), to 19 students and 16 alumni.

Wednesday’s schedule, highlights:

8-10 a.m. American & Efird Textile Mill, 22 American St., Mount Holly, 1-800-453-5128

Media photographers may shoot the tour but should check with plant hosts first about restricted areas.

The earliest plants in this complex began operating in 1891. Today, American & Efird operates internationally and employs 2,250 in the United States. The company, headquartered in Mount Holly, is the nation's top producer of industrial and consumer sewing threads, supplying clothing manufacturers

including The Gap and Victoria's Secret. In 1998, textile mills constituted North Carolina's top manufacturing employer, with more than 20 percent of that sector's workforce.

But automation, foreign competition and changes in trade policies have threatened the industry. In the last 10 years, layoffs and plant closings have cost 111,600 jobs in North Carolina. As trade opens with China, the U.S. expects to lose another 150,000 of today's estimated 562,000 textiles jobs.

10:30 a.m.-noon Vermillion, 13815 Cinnabar Place, Huntersville, 704-875-9704

The faculty members will see what the Sierra Club calls a prime example of the national smart-growth movement in this development, under construction in a Charlotte suburb. Developer Robert "Nate" Bowman, architect Tom Low and David Salvesen, director of Smart Growth and the New Economy Program at UNC's Center for Urban and Regional Studies, will host the stop. The 360-acre bike- and pedestrian-friendly community will mix retail, residential and commercial uses, maintain open spaces and include public transportation, including eventual light rail to Charlotte.

Nationally, smart growth advocates seek to contain urban sprawl, which has been blamed for social isolation, obesity and other health problems, pollution from auto emissions, flooding, erosion, loss of small farms and wildlife extinction. Last February, the N.C. Smart Growth Commission -- a group of legislators, developers, business executives, local leaders and residents and environmentalists -- recommended that the state require cities and counties to set growth boundaries.

UNC's involvement in the smart-growth movement includes research and public service projects in the School of Public Health, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies and the Institute of Government.

3:30-4:30 p.m. Hot Springs Health Program, presentation at Asheville-Buncombe Community College, 4646 U.S. 25-70, Marshall, 828-649-2947

The program serves residents of Madison County, one of the state's poorest, with a per capital income of $18,599 and a poverty rate of 18 percent in 1998. Dr. Marianna Daly, with the program for nearly 13 years, will speak about the challenges of health care in rural areas. North Carolina combats an uneven distribution of health-care professionals with 80 care centers under its Office of Rural Health, the nation's first. That office and the UNC School of Medicine started the Hot Springs program in the early 1970s. Today it is seen as a model for comprehensive rural health-care delivery.

The Tar Heel Bus Tour began Monday (May 21) with tobacco and hog farm visits and a boat ride to observe a UNC-assisted water-quality project on the Neuse River. Tuesday, the group learned about economic development plans in Fayetteville; NASCAR's influence on the state through a visit to the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham; and inner-city redevelopment in Charlotte. Stops later this week will include tours of a demographics program in Siler City and a UNC program in Warrensville using traditional music to teaching fourth-grade.

Tour Web site: http://www.dev.unc.edu/pubrel/bustour/

Interviews: Tour leader Mike Smith, director of UNC's Institute of Government, and participants are expected to be available for print and broadcast interviews at stops or by cell phone. Media access will be unrestricted except where otherwise noted. During the tour, call L.J. Toler of UNC News Services at 919-614-5436 with questions about coverage. News Services in Chapel Hill at 919-962-2091 can share background on UNC's connections to North Carolina. Before the tour, contact Toler at 919-962-8589.

 

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