Here is the text of a letter Lawrence Erlbaum, president of
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers sent to the
Citizen-Times and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
describing his decision not to establish a new location for the
company in Asheville:
I am the president and sole shareholder of this and several
other publishing firms.
We are an international company with offices in London and
distribution as far away as the Antipodes.
I am writing to tell you that we were very close to choosing
Asheville, North Carolina as a location for establishing an
office in your city along with in-house printing plant.
What attracted me to Asheville, among other smaller southern
cities that were away from larger metropolitan areas, were the
proximity to raw materials and reasonable prospects for training
an available labor force.
I have also visited the Asheville area a number of times and
was most impressed by the cultural diversity, natural beauty and
the apparent high quality of life.
The availability of the Asheville-Buncombe Technical
Community College to assist in training what we project to be
about 200 in our work force was also a real plus.
You can imagine, therefore, my great disappointment after
reading the article in a recent issue of New Yorker magazine that
detailed the "we shall pray" controversy and other religious
schisms existing in the Asheville community.
Indeed, I am abashed that a Jewish mayor of a city that prides
itself for its progressive politics would consider proclaiming a
week called "the lordship of Jesus Christ awareness week."
Although it seems inconceivable that thousands of people
would attend "we still pray" rallies that flaunt the Supreme Court
and the constitutional separation of church and state in order to
impose their own religious views on minority groups within the
community, we understand these rallies took place at a Buncombe
County public school.
Further, the movement appears to have the public support of
several elected officials, including the congressman from the
Our organization has typically employed workers from diverse
groups, with cultural heritage's that include those of Asian,
African and Middle East descent.
These highly skilled people would be managerial employees
that would have to relocate, train workers, and manage the new
It is clear that many of our employees and especially their
children would not be comfortable in your community or schools.
In light of all of the above, we have decided not only to
remove Asheville and Buncombe County from the short list of
locations under consideration, we have also thought it proper to
inform you of those factors that have led to our decisions.
It is our policy to ensure our employees and their children
are truly welcomed in any community in which we are located.
Asheville clearly does not meet these requirements.
Our retirement home is located in the mountains just about 6 miles
outside of Asheville and it may interest you to know that there are
over 20 covens in Asheville alone. There are three "witchy/new age"
books stores and four stores where in one can by occult related items.
There are also over 60 art galleries in the surrounding area, two of
which deal in nothing but authentic NA art and jewelry. There is also
a pagan community similar to a 60's commune there. Just thought you
might like to know this.