Dr. Kenneth Peacock, chancellor of Appalachian State University, brought his Economic Development Listening Tour to Jefferson Landing last week.
Peacock discussed economic opportunities involving ASU with local community leaders during this seventh annual event.
“It has been tough on every campus to deal with the economy,” said Peacock. In spite of the economy, he stressed that ASU offers many opportunities, saying, “There are so many things that happen on campus that doesn’t make the news.”
The major focus of the meeting was sustainability. Ged Moody, director of university sustainability, said there are three components for a system to be sustainable, which are environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and social sustainability.
“Students are driving our sustainability on our campuses and across our nation,” said Moody.
According to Moody, ASU took part in the 2011 Solar Decathlon. Only 20 schools across the nation were asked to compete in the event, so being invited was an honor for Appalachian State, he said.
The contest was to design a home that ran on solar power alone. For its design, Appalachian State drew inspiration from old homesteads, earning the name “Solar Homestead.” Moody said, “Even though the Solar Homestead did not win the event overall, it did win the People’s Choice Award for most popular design.”
Moody said this is the kind of development that could impact energy costs in the future. ASU already has a history of finding energy savings. Since 2006, ASU has lowered its yearly energy costs by $3.25 million, according to Moody.
Moody said ASU has saved money through recycling too. His is goal in the near future is for ASU to recycle 90 percent of its products.
Appalachian State has also made an effort to ensure the operational needs of the campus are sustainable. For instance, Moody said the cleaning products on campus no longer use harmful chemicals. Neither does the landscaping, which has cast away harmful pesticides in favor of non-harmful fertilizers.
Also, Moody said transportation at ASU has reached a point that students no longer need vehicles. In addition to the buses that transport students around town, there is a bus system at Appalachian that will take students as far as Winston or Greensboro for a fee of $5.
These are all examples of new products and technologies that have been used to save money for the school and for students, said Moody. He also said, “These projects should also help boost the local economy.”
During the meeting, there was also a strong emphasis on supporting the local food industry. Moody said three years ago, two percent of the food consumed on Appalachian State’s campus came from local providers. Today, 11 percent of the food sold at ASU comes from local providers.
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Mike Mayfield also spoke at the meeting. Mayfield said the school and the area are focusing more on fermentation science. According to him, several breweries are set to relocate to western North Carolina, which will create an estimated 400 jobs in the area. Fermented foods include beer, wine, cheese and Serrano ham.
Mayfield said the school’s support of local businesses, and the 400 new fermentation jobs, feeds directly into the local economy.
At the beginning of the meeting, Peacock said he loves this area and wants it to succeed. He also said many of Appalachian State’s students have fallen in love with this area.
With this in mind, Peacock offered some advice, saying, “Young people are less likely to move away if there are jobs waiting for them at home.” Therefore, this area should focus on creating more jobs.
By applying new technology and supporting local businesses, Peacock said he hopes to help build an economy that will attract more young people to western North Carolina.
Also representing ASU at this meeting was Jake Cox, student president of the university, and Dr. Neva Specht, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.