60 years ago, a writer said Asheville’s French Broad River was so polluted by raw sewage and manufacturing waste that it was “too thick to drink and too thin to plow”.
Can a new whitewater park boost the local economy?
Can it also stimulate river restoration my making people care more about the quality of the water?
Today, Asheville’s economy is largely dependent on tourism. According to a 2012 presentation from the consulting company Tourism Economics, one in seven Asheville jobs are sustained by the industry. For this reason, the city lags behind other North Carolina metros in terms of per capita income, including Raleigh and Charlotte, which have become research and finance magnets, but also similarly sized Chapel Hill and Wilmington.
A whitewater park, proponents argue, will help bring in kayak-happy tourists, of course. But the hope is that it will also attract the kind of new permanent residents Asheville wants: High-skill knowledge workers who want that urban feel, but the mountains close by.