News in Business


HRMC publishes 2022 Community Benefit Report  

Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) published its community benefit report for the 2022 calendar year. The annual report outlines the various ways the hospital continues to invest in the health and economic vitality of the Haywood County as part of its mission of making communities healthier.

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The HRMC community benefit report highlighted continuing efforts to meet the growing health care need in Haywood County. File photo

HRMC’s 2022 community benefit report highlights its continued efforts to meet the growing health care needs of its community through welcoming new providers, expanding service lines and continually investing in its facilities and health care technology. For example, in 2022, HRMC added 125 providers in anesthesiology, emergency and family medicine, nephrology, OB/GYN, orthopedics, radiology and telemedicine; and made more than $2.8 million in capital improvements, including portable X-ray unit, facility boilers and an inpatient dialysis unit.

In 2022, the hospital distributed more than $70 million in salaries, wages and benefits for its approximately 800 employees, while contributing more than $63,219 in tuition assistance.

Last year, the organization paid $8,195,377 in local and state taxes, while also continuing its support of local activities and organizations committed to serving the region, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Canton Labor Day Festival, Haywood County Schools Foundation, Haywood Healthcare Foundation, Haywood Pathways, Haywood Waterways Association, Lake Junaluska Assembly, Power of Pink and Senior Games.

Haywood Regional Medical Center’s 2022 community benefit report is available on the hospital’s website .

Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks Realtor Ranks No. 1

Josh Smith with Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks Walnut Cove Realty is ranked No. 1 in North Carolina on this year’s  America’s Best Real Estate Agents  list from REAL Trends, based on closed sales volume. Smith closed transactions totaling $100,700,015 in 2022. 

“It has been an incredible run in real estate the past few years,” said Smith. “It is a humbling experience to receive this distinction among the many amazing professionals we work with day in and day out. I am proud to serve the community and honored to be named the No. 1 agent in North Carolina by America’s Best.”

The annual rankings, sponsored by Tom Ferry International, a top coaching and training company, ranks top sales associates and teams in each state and metropolitan statistical area by transaction sides and sales volume for the previous year.

More than 27,500 residential real estate professionals were considered for the ranking. Those named to the list represent the top 1.5% of more than 1.6 million real estate professionals in the United States.

Smith said he will continue to focus on growing his business and the company’s footprint across Western North Carolina.

“We have proven to be the best in the business when it comes to selling luxury homes,” said Smith. “Our relationship with Allen Tate/Beverly-Hanks will allow us to continue our momentum by assisting buyers and sellers in the luxury lifestyle communities near Asheville.” 

Mountain Housing Opportunities launches fundraising challenge 

Mountain Housing Opportunities (MHO) announced a special philanthropic commitment from The Biltmore Company in honor of MHO’s 35th Anniversary: a $35,000 Matching Gift Challenge. 

Beginning in June, Biltmore will match all donations made to MHO on a dollar-for-dollar basis, up to $35,000. This special matching gift will double the impact of individual donations and will result in at least $70,000 raised to support MHO’s affordable housing programs and services.

“The need for affordable housing in our region has never been greater. We are excited to partner with Biltmore to bring greater awareness to this urgent need and inspire others to donate what they can.” said Scott Dedman, MHO’s President and Executive Director. “Philanthropic support from individuals and business partners like Biltmore help to fuel MHO’s efforts to create more opportunities for residents of western North Carolina to find and keep affordable housing and to build generational wealth through more equitable paths to homeownership.”

All donations received from individuals, including gifts in support of MHO’s upcoming 35th Anniversary Celebration, are eligible to receive a 100% match from Biltmore, up to $35,000. This includes gifts from family foundations and donor advised funds. Gifts from businesses are not eligible for the match.

“We are grateful for this generous and timely contribution from Biltmore in honor of MHO’s 35 years in business,” said Allison Rollison, Director of Philanthropy at MHO. “Biltmore’s reputation for excellence, service, and stewardship is unparalleled. We are honored to be aligned with a company that prioritizes the dignity and well-being of the people of western North Carolina. This $35,000 match will catalyze generosity from others in our community who also believe that everyone — no matter their income — deserves a safe, stable, affordable place to call home.”

Interested in making a gift to support more affordable housing and having your contribution matched? Visit  to make a gift online today or call 828.254.4030 for more information.

Franklin welcomes new business

The Franklin Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed the Highlands Road Gem Mine to the Franklin business community with a ribbon cutting celebration.  

The mine is located at 4961 Highlands Road.  

Visitors can enjoy Smoky Mountain vistas while mining by the Cullasaja river.

Located between Franklin and Highlands you will enjoy the most scenic drive up the Cullasaja Gorge with amazing waterfalls.  

“We offer paydirt ‘loaded’ gem buckets with the chance to uncover Ruby, Sapphire, Topaz, Moonstone, Garnet, Emerald, Rose Quartz, Kyanite, Amethyst and so much more” said owner Varshana Dholakia. “We are a clean, friendly gem mine with knowledgeable staff and help label your beautiful gemstones. It is good clean dirty fun for all ages”.

Discounts are available for large groups, birthday parties, church groups and school groups.

Gem Mine is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April through October. For reservations and appointments, call 828.342.3135 or call the shop at 828.369.9505. Drop-ins are welcome.  

WNC solar provider gains membership to industry cooperative

Asheville-based solar energy company Sugar Hollow Solar has been selected from a national pool of applicants to gain membership in industry group Amicus Solar Cooperative, a certified B corporation and Public Benefit Corporation. Following a rigorous business evaluation process, Sugar Hollow is the 75th member and fourth North Carolina solar provider to receive Amicus member-owner cooperative access.

Admission into the Amicus Cooperative provides Sugar Hollow with access to leading industry knowledge, best-practice information sharing and competitive buying power. As a values-driven industry advocacy group, Amicus membership provides independent solar energy companies with access to the highest quality equipment, trusted supply partners and competitive pricing. 

“Becoming a member of the Amicus Solar Cooperative is a significant step for Sugar Hollow Solar, and a powerful endorsement of our business and values. This membership will enhance our operational effectiveness through collaboration with leading solar providers across the country and enable us to continue to champion renewable energy in western North Carolina,” said Clary Franko, Chief Operating Officer at Sugar Hollow Solar. 

Admission to Amicus is based on several factors, including reputation in the community, quality of work, demonstrated financial strength and customer retention. Since its inception in 2011, Amicus has admitted only 21% of applicants, ensuring that high quality and aligned values are maintained across its mission-driven member base.

“As Amicus members, we are joining forces with like-minded companies and publicly committing to high levels of accountability and social responsibility,” Franko said. “In every aspect of our company Sugar Hollow Solar is proud to echo the Amicus mission of ‘bringing honor to the solar industry’ through the way we sell, install and provide solar energy throughout western North Carolina.” 

Gwen’s Speech Therapy opens

The Franklin Chamber of Commerce recently held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Gwen’s Speech Therapy located at 310 Terrell Road.

“At Gwen’s Speech Therapy we do not believe in one general broad-spectrum approach because every person that comes through our door is a unique individual with their own set of needs,” said Owner Gwen Fowler-Berken. “We believe our clients deserve the best care possible. That is why we pride ourselves on getting to know each and every one of our clients to build a unique approach tailored to the individual’s goals and needs.”

Call 828.371.3940 or visit


TekTone donates nurse-call system to SCC

In order for aspiring nurses to fully experience what daily life will be like in their new careers, they need exposure to the same equipment they’ll use in area hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

That’s why TekTone of Franklin recently designed, donated and installed a Tek-CARE Nurse Call System in Southwestern Community College’s new Health Sciences Center. Valued at $39,615, the system allows patients to communicate immediately with nurses anytime they have a need or concern. At SCC, it allows students to simulate a real hospital room experience as they can make a connection to the “nurses’ station,” where classmates can fill out a chart on a computer and use a phone to respond to the call system.

This was not the first time TekTone provided equipment and support to SCC’s Health Sciences students. When the college installed its first simulation lab in 2017, TekTone donated a Tek-CARE 400P5 nurse call system.

For the latest project, TekTone engineers attended SCC construction meetings and designed the Tek-CARE® system specifically to meet the new facility’s needs.

For more information about TekTone, visit


HCC receives $1 million DOL grant

Haywood Community College was selected by the Department of Labor, in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission, to receive a grant in the amount of $1.196 million for Project UP, a program to support the development of short-term training programs in construction. 

The grant is part of the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Initiative and is designed to build the workforce in our area and upskill the talent of those participating in the program. Twenty-three grants were awarded, two of which went to North Carolina.

“Providing opportunities to gain critical job skills is the heart of our mission as a community college,” explains HCC President Shelley White. “We are excited to have been selected for this grant and look forward to strengthening partnerships and building new relationships through Project UP.”

HCC will partner with the Haywood County Detention Center, Southwestern Workforce Development Board, and construction, plumbing and HVAC businesses in the county to implement a training program to target local workforce needs. This initiative will provide a pathway of rehabilitation for individuals who’ve been incarcerated and re-entry into the workforce with GED certification and job skills training. The program will also serve as a pipeline of entry-level talent in the construction industry for businesses.   

The first construction course will start next summer while GED classes are available now. Upon completion of the course, students will have the opportunity to obtain a 10-hour OSHA Card and NCCER credentials after passing the exams with a 70% or higher. 

For more information, call 828.564.5128 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Hellcat Tattoo opens in Franklin

The Franklin Chamber of Commerce recently welcomed Hellcat Tattoo to the Franklin community. 

Located at 129 Commons Drive in the Walmart Shopping Center, Hellcat Tattoo was founded in 2003 in West Palm Beach, Florida, by Dave Porter and was named after Dave’s grandfather’s tank destroyer battalion in WW2. Porter has 28 years of experience and is a United States Marine Corps veteran. He brings the core values and principles taught in the Marines to the tattoo industry. He moved his permanent residence to Franklin in October 2020 and recently opened his second shop.

“Our West Palm Beach location has been in operation for over 18 years and is staffed by six world-class artists,” he said. “These artists will rotate through the shop here in Franklin periodically and we will also offer a variety of guest artists multiple times per year.”

Visit or call 828.558.3122.


Lisa Kim Fisher joins SCC 

Southwestern Community College has named Lisa Kim Fisher as the new Vice President for Financial & Administrative Services.

A seasoned professional with more than 30 years of experience in finance and accounting, Fisher most recently owned an accounting and consulting business in Bryson City. She previously served as the Finance Reporting/Forensic Audit Manager/Senior Internal Auditor for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and she’s also worked for Mission Hospital, General Electric, PhyCor and South Eastern Pathology.

Fisher is replacing William Brothers, who has accepted the role of Dean for the School of Education and Professional Studies at Greenville Technical College.

“Lisa Kim brings extremely impressive qualifications and experience to Southwestern,” said Dr. Don Tomas, SCC President. “We are fortunate to have someone so capable to take over this vital role, and I look forward to working with her.”

Fisher holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration in accounting, both from the University of South Florida. In 2011, she moved to Swain County full-time. 

“Living in the community since I moved here, I’ve always heard great things about SCC,” Fisher said. “I worked with people who graduated from Southwestern, and I’m a huge fan of the early college. I wish they’d had an opportunity like that when I was raising my son. I’m so impressed with everything I’ve seen so far at Southwestern, and I’m excited about this opportunity.”


Smart recognized by Farm Bureau

The Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation was recently held at the Convention Center in Raleigh. 

Congratulations to Haywood County Farm Bureau President Donald Smart, who was recognized among his peers at the Presidents’ and Agents’ Luncheon. Farm Bureau President Shawn Harding presented each winning county president with a limited edition Case knife. Each county’s agency force worked hard to qualify their county president for this recognition. Special plaques were also presented to the agents and agencies whose production was superior during the contest period.

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