Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Tax, Spending Laws Will Widen Budget Deficits, Boost Growth

WASHINGTON—Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper is predicting wider budget deficits and a temporary period of stronger economic growth following recent legislation to cut taxes and boost government spending.

The Congressional Budget Office on Monday said the federal budget deficit would total $804 billion this year, 43% higher than it had projected last summer, and exceed $1 trillion a year starting in 2020. The deficit in fiscal 2017 was $665 billion.

Economic growth will jump above 3% this year thanks to fiscal stimulus, the CBO said, but the agency predicted the acceleration will prove largely fleeting. It raised its estimates for the economy’s long-term growth trend modestly.

Larger deficits will add to the national debt. Debt held by the public will hit $28.671 trillion at the end of fiscal 2028, or 96.2% of gross domestic product, up from 78% of GDP in 2018, the CBO estimated.

The CBO projected that annual deficits, measured as a share of total economic output, would ease somewhat after peaking at 5.4% of GDP in fiscal 2022.

Those deficit estimates assume current law won’t be changed further, meaning Congress would allow some tax cuts to expire and spending caps to take effect again. If current policies largely remain in place, the CBO predicted higher deficits and a national debt around 105% of GDP by the end of 2028. That level has been exceeded only once in U.S. history, in the immediate aftermath of World War II.

“Moreover, the pressures contributing to that rise would accelerate and push debt up even more sharply in subsequent decades,” the agency said.

Hoping to rein in federal spending, top White House officials are working on a proposal of “rescissions,” or cuts they hope to make to last month’s $1.3 trillion spending bill. Mr. Trump can submit his proposal to Capitol Hill, where legislation canceling those funds would be considered through an expedited process, although Congress isn’t required to respond.

It isn’t yet clear if a rescission bill could pass the Senate, even though it would need just a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes most bills need to clear procedural hurdles. The $1.3 trillion spending law increased both military and domestic funding and was the product of bipartisan negotiations among the top four congressional leaders.

The CBO’s annual report on the outlook for the federal budget and the U.S. economy typically comes out in January, but it was delayed this year so analysts could account for the effects of several recent changes to fiscal policy.

Congress in December enacted a package of corporate and individual tax cuts and in February approved a two-year budget deal, followed last month by a spending bill that boosted government outlays this year on both domestic and military programs.

Monday’s report offered early independent estimates for how those measures will affect federal-government finances and the broader economy in years to come. The nonpartisan CBO is led by economist Keith Hall, who was appointed in 2015 by congressional Republican leaders.

Supporters of the tax legislation, including President Donald Trump, said it would spur stronger economic growth. Democrats opposed the bill, saying it wouldn’t do enough to help the middle class and the broader economy.

Wall Street forecasters and other economists predicted the tax-law changes likely would increase growth in the short term but were split over whether it would have meaningful long-term effects. The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation staff in December estimated the tax cuts would boost the economy, but not enough to make up for the bulk of lost revenue.

When the CBO issued projections in June, it expected the federal budget deficit would widen from 2.8% of gross domestic product in the 2018 fiscal year to 5.2% of GDP in 2027. That would take the debt held by the public from 78% of GDP in the current fiscal year to 91.2% of GDP in 2027.

In Monday’s report, taking account of bills that both cut taxes and increased spending, the CBO revised deficit numbers higher in the short term. The deficit is expected to rise from 4% of GDP in 2018 to 5.4% of GDP in 2022, then ease to 5.1% of GDP in 2028. The debt held by the public will climb from 78% of GDP in 2018 to 94.5% of GDP in 2027 and 96.2% in 2028, the agency said.

Federal-government revenues are expected to total 17.5% of GDP in 2019-2028, down from last summer’s estimate of 18.2% of GDP in 2018-2027. Outlays are expected to be 22.4% of GDP in 2019-2028, unchanged from last summer’s estimate for 2018-2027.

It is unusual for the federal budget deficit to significantly expand outside of wars or recessions. But even before the recent flurry of fiscal stimulus, the CBO expected deficits would widen over the coming years as revenues failed to keep up with outlays including spending on major social programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Fitch Ratings last week reaffirmed its top rating for U.S. government debt, despite what it described as deterioration in the outlook for public finances.

“While there has been a recent loosening in fiscal policy, Fitch considers debt tolerance to be higher than that of other (nations),” the ratings agency said. “However, rising deficits and debt could eventually test these credit strengths, in the absence of reform.”

The economy is set to get a boost in the short term from increased government spending and lower taxes.

The CBO predicted GDP would expand 3.3% in the fourth quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, up from its June 2017 estimate of 2.0% growth. Annual growth would slow in subsequent years: 2.4% in 2019, 1.8% in 2020, 1.5% in 2021 and 2022, and 1.7% in 2023 through 2028.

Underlying trends are expected to keep growth modest compared with past expansions and well below the Trump administration’s goal of sustained growth at or above 3%.

The CBO estimated potential GDP growth in 2018 through 2028 would average 1.9% a year, based on expected growth in the labor force and worker productivity. That was up slightly from its estimate last summer of 1.8% annual growth in the 2017-2027 period. Potential GDP growth is the maximum growth rate consistent with stable inflation.

That’s largely in line with recent predictions by Federal Reserve officials. The median projection by Fed policy makers in March saw long-run GDP growth at 1.8% a year, with individual estimates ranging from 1.7% to 2.2%.

Such estimates, to be sure, come with substantial uncertainty.

Elements of the new tax law should “encourage investment, which should help productivity, encourage labor-force participation,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told reporters last month. “We don’t know how big those effects are going to be. We don’t know what the timing would be.”

Write to Ben Leubsdorf at ben.leubsdorf@wsj.com

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Wednesday, 28 March 2018

How clean is Asheville’s air? NC Division of Air Quality reports

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ASHEVILLE — If the Western North Carolina mountains seem to be a little more in focus, it’s not a mirage.

Since the mid-to-late-90s, when Asheville’s air quality was in violation of federal health standards for ozone pollution, the air has become exponentially cleaner and crisper, according to air quality experts at the annual State of Our Air Briefing Monday hosted by the Land of Sky Regional Council, the N.C. Division of Air Quality and the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency.

“But we can’t become complacent. There’s a lot of room for improvement,” said Bill Eaker, Land of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition coordinator.

“Our metro area is growing somewhat rapidly. All this growth, all these folks coming in, there are more cars and trucks on the road, more homes to heat and cool, more lawn mowers … we have to keep working at reducing emissions, do what is reasonable and cost effective and make sure we stay in compliance.”

Mike Abraczinakas, N.C. Division of Air Quality director, said the states’ air quality has been following a long-term trend of improvement, so much so that all areas of the state are either in compliance with or below Environmental Protection Agency national ambient air quality standards.

The annual air quality briefing even changed its name this year. It used to be called the “Ozone Season Kickoff,” to coincide with the daily, color-coded forecasts for ozone and particulate pollution in March as the warmer temperatures increase the likelihood of ground ozone and particulate pollution, which are health hazards.

But Abraczinakas said adherence to strict air quality standards, better technology and emission reductions from coal burning power plants and gasoline-powered vehicles and cleaner-burning fuels have made huge strides in cleaning up the air and clearing out the views.

Carbon monoxide levels last year were 86 percent below the allowable federal standard of 9 parts per million, dropping to an all-time low of less than 2 ppm, down from nearly 16 ppm when the Clean Air Act was established in 1970, Abraczinakas said.

Ozone concentration is also now at its lowest, below the stringent 2015 standard of 70 parts per billion, Abraczinakas said.

“It’s amazing that we’re 13 percent below the average statewide,” he said.

Ozone, the main culprit in smog, is created when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted from vehicles, the coal-burning power plants such as the Duke Energy facility in Skyland, and other industrial sources heat up in the sun. Ozone is a lung irritant that causes shortness of breath, irritates the throat and eyes, and aggravates asthma.

According to the N.C. Division of Air Quality, ozone levels have dramatically decreased since 1970. Courtesy of NC Division of Air Quality.

(Photo: Provided)

Since 1990, some 300,000 tons of NOx, which are also greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, have been removed from the air, he said, mostly through the closing and upgrading of coal-burning plants and improved vehicle emissions.

In 1990, 33 percent of NOx emissions came from power plants. Today, they emit 13 percent of NOx, while the source from on-road vehicles is up to 50 percent from 42 percent, an area where there is work to be done, he said.

MORE: NC, Asheville air quality to get a boost from Volkswagen emissions scandal settelement

A Draft State Mitigation Plan released Monday outlining proposals for investing North Carolina’s $92 million share of a national settlement with Volkswagen for its manipulation of emission devices, should further help with vehicle exhaust, Abraczinakas said.

Plans for the funds include upgrading older diesel-burning fleets such as school buses, city transit buses and garbage trucks.

Another health and haze culprit showing great improvement is particulate matter, which is formed by a chemical reaction of sulfur dioxide and NOx from power plants and vehicle exhaust, as well as open burning. In high concentrations they can be deadly in people with heart or lung disease and decreased lung function.

The levels of particulate pollution have also dramatically declined relative to 1970 standard, and even the stricter 2012 standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter, he said.

“What do lower fine particles mean, other than benefits to public health? Success looks like this,” he said, displaying a crisp, summer mountain view.

“This is crystal clear. This is basically the norm now during summer, not the exception. When we started this air quality program 20 years ago, this was the exception. Now we have crystal clear days where we can enjoy some of North Carolina’s best natural treasures, where we can see the peak beyond the peak, and the range beyond the range.”

The work has been achieved through federal, state and local partnerships, he said, adding on the success of the 2002 Clean Smokestacks Act, legislation that dramatically improved North Carolina’s air quality, as well as community programs that encourage carpooling, public transportation and walking and biking to work and school.

Jason Walls, district manager for Duke Energy, said NOx emissions will be further reduced next year. That is when Duke’s Lake Julian plant will be retired after burning coal for electricity production for more than 50 years. Coal will be retired, the plant will be demolished, and a natural gas burning plant will take its place.

Ashley Featherstone, permitting manager for the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency, said the daily air quality forecasts will continue, as a way for people to plan their time outdoors, and keep tabs on air quality themselves. Orange and red coded days are a warning to people who are sensitive to air pollution to limit time outdoors.

In 2016, Asheville had two code red days, Nov. 22 and 23, due to the nearby Party Rock fire in Lake Lure. But last year, there were no code red or orange days.

The Land of Sky’s Clean Vehicles Coalition has also worked to reduce noxious emissions through promotion of cars with cleaner burning fuels such as biodiesel, natural gas and propane, and electric vehicles.

Eaker said there are now some 9,000 electric vehicles in North Carolina, up from 1,000 in 2012, which he says are good for the grid, the economy, the environment, and human health.

Between 2009-2017 reports a reduction in 6.6 million gallons of gasoline and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 51,000 tons.

More than 1 million pounds of hazardous and toxic pollutants have been removed from the air in North Carolina since 1993 through stricter air quality standards and improved emissions controls on power plants and motor vehicles. Courtesy of NC Division of Air Quality.

(Photo: Provided)

Even clearer skies are on the horizon. Jason Walls, district manager for Duke Energy, said NOx emissions will be further reduced next year when Duke’s Lake Julian plant will be retired after burning coal for electricity production for more than 50 years. Coal will be retired, the plant will be demolished, and a natural gas burning plant will take its place.

Ashley Featherstone, permitting manager for the WNC Regional Air Quality Agency, said the daily air quality forecasts will continue, as a way for people to plan their time outdoors, and keep tabs on air quality themselves. Orange and red coded days are a warning to people who are sensitive to air pollution to limit time outdoors.

In 2016, Asheville had two code red days, Nov. 22 and 23, due to the nearby Party Rock fire in Lake Lure. But last year, there were no code red or orange days.

The Land of Sky’s Clean Vehicles Coalition has also worked to reduce noxious emissions through promotion of cars with cleaner burning fuels such as biodiesel, natural gas and propane, and electric vehicles.

Eaker said there are now some 9,000 electric vehicles in North Carolina, up from 1,000 in 2012, which he says are good for the grid, the economy, the environment, and human health.

Between 2009-2017 cleaner burning cars were responsible for a reduction in 6.6 million gallons of gasoline and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of nearly 51,000 tons, he said.

How’s the air quality?

The N.C. Division of Air Quality releases daily forecasts are issued for the valleys and ridge tops in the Asheville area at 3 p.m. daily through Oct. 31. The color-coded index is based on expected levels of ozone and fine particulates.

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Thursday, 15 March 2018

Disney Overhaul Sets Stage for Succession Race

Walt Disney Co. DIS 0.16% is reorganizing its operations in a move that positions two top executives as potential successors to Chief Executive Robert Iger.

Kevin Mayer, the company’s longtime head of strategy who has specialized in acquisitions and digital investments, was named chairman of a new direct-to-consumer and international segment, while parks chief Robert Chapek added consumer products to his portfolio, giving him oversight of what would be the company’s biggest business unit by revenue and profit.

Wednesday’s moves come a week after Disney made former consumer products head James Pitaro the head of ESPN, further raising the profile of a third fast-rising executive. Disney insiders consider him another possible future CEO, but a longer shot. Messrs. Chapek, 58, and Mayer, 55, have both worked at Disney for more than 20 years, while Mr. Pitaro, 48, joined in 2010.

Mr. Iger recently extended his contract through 2021, contingent upon the company closing its December agreement to acquire most of the assets of 21st Century Fox Inc. FOX 1.03% for $52.4 billion. Since former Chief Operating Officer Tom Staggs was pushed out two years ago, there hasn’t been a clear successor to Mr. Iger.

At a recent investor conference, Mr. Iger said he had been “thinking hard about how best to structure the company” so that once the deal is complete, “we’ll be ready…to hit the ground running.”

Mr. Mayer was intimately involved in the Fox deal and the purchase of streaming-technology company BamTech. He has also been heavily involved in plans to launch next year a Disney-branded streaming service that would compete with Netflix Inc.

His new business unit would oversee that service and BamTech, as well as an ESPN streaming service set to debut by early April. In addition, should the Fox deal be approved by regulators, it would give Disney and Mr. Mayer’s division control of a third streaming service, Hulu. The new segment will also oversee global advertising sales for Disney-owned television channels, sales of content to other distributors, and the international Disney Channels.

Mr. Iger said at the conference that successfully launching streaming services—which Mr. Mayer will now be responsible for—was his priority.

Mr. Mayer, who has overseen strategy and business development since 2005, has never previously had an operating role at the company, a significant deficiency in his potential candidacy to succeed Mr. Iger. He now has oversight of nearly all distribution of Disney-produced films and television shows outside of theaters, home video and domestic broadcast and cable-TV networks.

Disney’s movie studio, overseen by Alan Horn, and television division, run by Mr. Pitaro and Ben Sherwood, will remain largely intact.

The new theme parks, experiences and consumer products division headed by Mr. Chapek will combine the parks and resorts business he currently oversees with the smaller consumer-products business he used to run. He now has oversight of translations of Disney characters and stories created in film and TV into other forms of media, whether in theme parks, on toy shelves, online or in games.

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The cable industry is undergoing a major transformation, as more Americans cut the cord on their cable subscriptions and flock to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. So how did we get here? Illustration: Shaumbe Wright/WSJ

Combined, consumer products and theme parks would overtake television to become Disney’s largest business. They generated a total of $6.6 billion in revenue and $1.97 billion in operating income during Disney’s fiscal first quarter, which ended Dec. 30.

With his background in deal-making and digital savvy, Mr. Mayer could be well positioned to lead Disney in the new businesses it will need to conquer to maintain its dominant position in entertainment in the next decade. He has previously maintained a low public profile, however, and some of his prior digital acquisitions have been flops, including the YouTube network Maker Studios.

Mr. Chapek, who also previously ran home video for Disney’s movie studio, has less experience in digital media but is a seasoned operational executive who has held senior positions in several of the company’s major businesses.

Succession at Disney has been murky since Mr. Staggs left after Mr. Iger informed him he was unlikely to become the next CEO, as had previously been expected. Mr. Iger has since extended his employment contract twice, first through 2019 and then, should the Fox deal close, until the end of 2021.

Mr. Iger last week faced a rare expression of criticism from shareholders when 52% of them voted not to approve of his compensation following the board’s decision to grant him lucrative bonuses to stay on to help integrate the Fox assets. The shareholder vote was nonbinding.

—Imani Moise contributed to this article.

Write to Ben Fritz at ben.fritz@wsj.com

Appeared in the March 15, 2018, print edition as ‘Disney Moves Reboot Race For Successor To CEO Iger.’

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Thursday, 1 March 2018

Print Your Rotten Tomatoes 2018 Oscar Ballot!

Think you’re the best at predicting the Oscar winners? Prove it in style with the official Rotten Tomatoes 2018 Oscar Ballot (with Tomatometer scores!) ready to print and deliver to yourself, your office pool, and wherever else your prediction skills are utterly needed.

Okay, need a little help making your Oscars choices? Consult our staff predictions or peruse the results of our reader survey!

>> Click here to download and print your 2018 Oscar ballot

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Friday, 16 February 2018

Isis Music Hall hosts fundraiser for Lloyd Johnson Foundation March 29

Photo courtesy of event organizers
From event organizers:

Lloyd’s Large Time – A Fundraiser for the Lloyd Johnson Foundation

ASHEVILLE, NC — Wherever bluegrass bellowed, Lloyd Johnson followed.

In honor of the life and musical spirit of this WNC native, Isis Music Hall hosts Lloyd’s Large Time: A Benefit for the Lloyd Johnson Foundation Thursday, March 29.

“My dad was a bit of character on the music scene in Western North Carolina,” said Lloyd’s son and fellow musician Steve Johnson. “He was close friends with many of the musicians in our area and this event at Isis is just one way to keep his love of music from our area going.

Proceeds from the benefit will fund The Lloyd Johnson Foundation, a non-profit organization created after Lloyd’s death in 2017 to provide education and career advancement opportunities to grow and nurture the musical spirit of Western North Carolina.

The benefit brings to the Isis stage an all-star line-up led by award-winning Americana artist Jim Lauderdale.

Lauderdale will share the stage with a string of artists from Sarah Burton, Si Kahn and Mark Bumgarner & Friends to The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys and other super surprise special guests.

“It’s a way for the Foundation to raise funds to continue to support and grow our vibrant music scene in Asheville and the surrounding area” said Steve, who is the co-host of MerleFest Radio Hour, and currently works as the Artist Relations Manager for Wilkes Community College/MerleFest. “My father introduced me to several different Bluegrass musicians as I was growing up and that really sparked my interest in music. We hope that this foundation can continue that same tradition of supporting people who are interested in pursuing a formal career in the music industry.”

Lloyd’s love for music went beyond the boundaries of WNC.

Over his life, he performed in several Bluegrass bands — most recently, the Dixie Grass Band. In addition to performing, he has supported bluegrass and country music artists through festival and concert attendance. Over the years, he traveled across the country forging lasting relationships with legends like Bill Monroe, Don Reno, Wayne Lewis, and countless other musicians.

The Lloyd Johnson Foundation will serve as primary sponsor of the notable MerleFest 2018 Band Competition, which highlights local, national, and international artists at MerleFest, with the winner receiving a prime-time performance slot.

“Lloyd loved going to concerts at the Isis and I hope our music community will come out to show their support of Dad, the venue, the artists, and help us continue to make a difference in Western North Carolina’s music scene,” Steve said.

Tickets for Lloyd’s Large Time are $20 in advance and $25 day of show. All proceeds will go the Lloyd Johnson Foundation to grow and nurture the musical spirit of Western North Carolina. Visit isisasheville.com for more information.

About Isis Music Hall

Isis Music Hall is a premier concert venue, bar, and eatery in the heart of West Asheville. Their name gives a nod to the building’s history – a single screen cinema built in the mid 1930’s. Today, this famed Art Deco style venue hosts many of the top touring artists and musicians in the nation. With two stages, multiple bars, and outdoor patio, Isis Music Hall is one of the hottest spots in the city for live music. In 2015, they were honored with the Venue of the Year Momentum Award by the International Bluegrass Music Association, as well as the Griffin Award for historical renovation and preservation. Join Kitchen 743 at Isis Music Hall nightly for an array of creative, local and seasonal fare.

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Saturday, 3 February 2018

Burial Beer Co. Begins Construction on New Craft Beer Bar

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Burial Beer Co.’s newest wave of expansion is taking shape in South Asheville in the form of a new craft beer bar called Forestry Camp. The two-story structure, built in the early 1900s by members of the Conservation Civilian Corps, will soon house a small selection of Burial beers and focus on a diverse draught and retail beer list featuring breweries from around the country and internationally. The owners of Burial have a stated goal of curating a selection of beers that feature craft offerings beyond the Burial portfolio and their South Slope taproom.

“Burial’s taproom will always exist at 40 Collier. There is no way that you could replace the aura of that storied ground,” states Doug Reiser, Co-Founder. “When we purchased the new property in 2015, we did so with the hope and dream of bringing a real, community-driven beer bar to Asheville. The goal is to connect Ashevillians with the great people (owners/brewers/employees) that make some of the best beer in the country. We won’t just buy beer off lists, we will bring the beer and the people behind it into the beer bar the for these interactions. The purveyors of craft will also be smiling faces about the bar; they will be humans who live and breathe and talk with the visitors. The goal of Forestry Camp is to offer everything that craft was intended to be.”

The two-acre property is currently home to Burial’s production brewery, corporate offices, and sour barrel facility where day-to-day operations have been conducted since October 2016. In keeping with their core values, Burial is aiming to build out Forestry Camp with the same revivalist spirit that has guided the whole of their expansion.

“We aim to breathe new life into those beautiful old bones while carefully maintaining their soul,” explains Tim Gormley, Co-Founder. “We chose to keep the original name of the property, “Forestry Camp”, as homage to its vibrant roots. We aim to use as much wood from the property as possible to build the tables, chairs, and bar itself. With the d├ęcor we will continue to celebrate the initial purpose of the property, utilizing tools of the trade, a purposeful tie in with our current South Slope taproom. When you have a beer at Forestry Camp, you’ll have the comforts of a modern bar, but you’ll have traveled back in time. You’ll have experienced a history so important to Asheville, and it’ll taste so good.”

Slated to open to the public in early summer 2018, the Forestry Camp property will afford the brewery both a new outlet for retail and much needed space for their ever-growing festivals and events.

“Forestry Camp was named as such because it truly is a camp,” states Gormley. “Six building are spread across its two acres, creating a feel akin to a winery estate or a university commons. I can’t imagine a better place for a festival. We may keep one of our annual festivals in the South Slope, for nostalgic reasons, but we will definitely be moving toward Forestry Camp hosted events. More info to come as the property becomes more fully realized.”

Forestry Camp boasts ample parking space via its own lot and connected parking above for an estimated 100 cars total. For events and weekends, 200 additional spaces will be available across from the property.

A small menu of sandwiches, charcuterie, and other locally purveyed goods are inplanning for the beer bar. Additionally a curated wine list with a moderate whiskey and Amaro selection will be offered all the while keeping the focus on craft beer.

“The beer bar will have 20 taps of craft beer, but will offer vintages of over 150 different canned and bottled beer, including extremely limited beers that you could otherwise only get at brewery taprooms,” states Reiser. “This is the craft drinker closeness and experience that we hope to purvey – and we hope other brewers follow suit in their own home states.”

ABOUT BURIAL BEER CO.

Founded in June 2013, Burial Beer Co. crafts Belgian-inspired ales, and bold American styles with a dedication to creativity, tradition, modernization, and preservation. Residing in and revitalizing the South Slope District of Asheville, NC, the brewery began its life as a one-barrel system that grew to a ten-barrel in just over a year. Fall 2016 brought a new wave of expansion and revitalization as Burial Beer Co. expanded again to a second location in South Asheville. This location is home to a twenty-barrel production brewery, corporate offices, barrel facility, and in spring 2018 a two-story craft beer bar called Forestry Camp. The brewery currently distributes full time to North Carolina, Georgia, and New York and intermittently to Colorado, Massachusetts, and Ohio. For more information visit www.burialbeer.com and follow on Facebook at www.facebook.com/burialbeer/

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Monday, 22 January 2018

Hickory, Asheville Make Nat Geo’s List Of Best Small Cities

CHARLOTTE, NC — Two North Carolina cities have made National Geographic’s list of Small U.S. Cities On the Rise, joining a group of 27 other cities lauded in 10 categories of "superlatives."

The superlatives were compiled, according to authors George Stone and Amy Alipio, using "unconventional metrics that we think lead to happiness: green spaces, galleries, coffee shops, breweries, music venues, Instagrammable moments, and more."

The superlatives for the two Tar Heel cities deemed standouts by National Geographic Traveler might not come as big surprises. Asheville, N.C. was called "Most Artsy," and "Sudsiest," and Hickory, N.C. was said to be "Hipster Friendly."

South Carolina’s biggest cities fared well in the list, as well. Charleston, S.C. was called "Most Instagramed" and "Most Artsy. Carnivores rule in Columbia and Greenville, which were both called "Meatiest." Columbia also racked up a designation as "Best Groomed."

Interested in seeing how other U.S. cities fared in the line up? Here is the list:

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Albuquerque, New Mexico (Sudsiest) Anchorage, Alaska (Trending- Most Caffeinated) Ann Arbor, Michigan (Greenest) Annapolis, Maryland (Trending- Dog Friendly) Asheville, North Carolina (Most Artsy, Sudsiest) Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Best Groomed) Boulder, Colorado (Hipster Friendly, Musically Grooviest, Most Caffeinated, Sudsiest) Charleston, South Carolina (Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy) Columbia, South Carolina (Best Groomed, Meatiest) Greenville, South Carolina (Meatiest) Hagerstown, Maryland (Best Groomed) Healdsburg, California (Trending- Greenest) Hickory, North Carolina (Hipster Friendly) Honolulu, Hawaii (Musically Grooviest, Most Instagrammed, Most Artsy) Kansas City, Missouri (Trending- Most Artsy) Lakeland, Florida (Most Dog Friendly) Louisville, Kentucky (Trending- Meatiest) Madison, Wisconsin (Greenest) New Orleans, Louisiana (Trending- Hipster Friendly) Newport, Rhode Island (Trending- Best Groomed) Olympia, Washington (Most Caffeinated, Greenest) Omaha, Nebraska (Trending- Musically Grooviest) Pensacola, Florida (Most Dog Friendly) Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Trending- Sudsiest) Portland, Maine (Most Instagrammed) Rapid City, South Dakota (Trending- Most Instagrammed) Reno, Nevada (Meatiest, Most Dog Friendly) Santa Cruz, California (Musically Grooviest) Spokane, Washington (Hipster Friendly, Most Caffeinated)

WATCH: Can You Guess The Best Small Cities In America?

Photo via Pixaby

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