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Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College

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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 district.

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 facility. 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.

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