Protestors gathered in downtown Asheville on Wednesday to criticize Buncombe County's decision to give millions of dollars in incentives to an aerospace company owned by Raytheon, one of the world's largest defense contractors.
Demonstrators want Buncombe County commissioners to rescind their offer, claiming it is investing in a "war profiteer" that is contributing to the death of civilians in the Middle East.
In October, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Pratt and Whitney would be expanding in Asheville. Last month, county commissioners granted the company $27 million in incentives. Protestors said they weren’t given the opportunity to share their concerns before a decision was made. They said Raytheon has produced weapons used to kill civilians in countries like Yemen.
"It’s going to destroy our mountains. It is going to destroy everything. The jobs are not worth the negatives that would come with it, the consequences," Asheville resident Coco Garcia said.
Pratt and Whitney plans to invest about $650 million and create 800 jobs within seven years. Construction on the plant in the new Biltmore Park West development in southern Buncombe County is expected to be finished by 2022.
Prior to the county vote on the incentives, a spokesperson for the company said it made $21 billion in sales last year. More than half came from the manufacturing of commercial engines used for passengers and cargo. He said military engines made up about 20-30 percent of sales.
"So much of our military hardware gets made here and is sent overseas and used in proxy wars and in purposes that don’t really serve the security of the United States itself," Veterans for Peace's Gerry Werhan said.
The company spokesperson said Pratt and Whitney became a division of Raytheon as a result of a company merger earlier this year.