Illustrative photo of Western North Carolina courtesy of AdvantageWest website.

From AdvantageWest, shared Oct. 27:

ASHEVILLE – Darold Londo, senior vice-president and general manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, currently overseeing a $633 million expansion that is reported to be one of the biggest in the nation’s hospitality industry, is joining with former Western Carolina University chancellor John Bardo and N.C. Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville) and N.C. Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D-Asheville) for an upcoming discussion of business and economic conditions in the region at the annual AdvantageWest Economic Summit.

The event is Monday, Nov. 14, at Diana Wortham Theatre, and starts with a networking reception at 5:30 p.m. The panel discussion takes place 7:15–8:45 p.m., moderated for the third consecutive time by longtime newspaper columnist and UNC-TV host D.G. Martin, also a retired lawyer and university administrator.

Open to the public, the event is $50, which includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages and admittance to the panel discussion. Space is limited and pre-registration is encouraged at Registration will also be available at the door as space allows.

The panelists join an impressive list of Economic Summit participants who in the past have included: Austin Adams, banking veteran from JPMorgan Chase; Anita Brown-Graham, director of NC’s Institute for Emerging Issues; Janet Cowell, NC state treasurer; Keith Crisco, NC commerce secretary; Walter Dalton, lieutenant governor of NC; Mike Fulenwider, president and CEO of Fulenwider Enterprises Inc; Martin Lancaster, former president of the NC Community College System; and Nelson Schwab III, managing partner at private equity firm Carousel Capital.

AdvantageWest is the regional economic development partnership serving 23 counties in Western North Carolina. This is the organization’s third Economic Summit, which typically draws 250-350 regional, state and federal business leaders, entrepreneurs, economic development professionals and others with a vested interest in Western North Carolina.

More about panelists and moderator

Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville) is an entrepreneur from Henderson County, serving his fifth term in the NC Senate, representing District 48. Among Sen. Apodaca’s committee assignments include serving as chair of the NC Senate Rules Committee, vice-chair of Commerce, and vice-chair of Education/Higher Education.

Dr. John Bardo, former chancellor of Western Carolina University, guided WCU through a period of unprecedented growth in student enrollment, campus construction and academic stature during his tenure as chancellor from 1995 until his retirement this past July.

Darold Londo, senior vice-president and general manager of Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel, has leadership experience spanning a variety of fields, including gaming, finance, technology, law and aviation. Londo is currently overseeing a $633 million expansion of Harrah’s Cherokee, reported to be one of the biggest in the nation’s hospitality industry.

Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D-Asheville) is an attorney from Buncombe County representing District 49, serving his fourth term in the Senate after 11 terms in the House. Sen. Nesbitt played a major role in the creation of AdvantageWest in 1994 by the NC General Assembly and is the current minority leader of the NC Senate.

D.G. Martin, moderator for the panel, is the host of “North Carolina Bookwatch,” broadcast weekly on UNC-TV. He also has a regular column published in newspapers across the state and is the host of a daily interview program on a Chapel Hill radio station. Martin is a frequent contributor to Our State magazine and has also participated in numerous other UNC-TV productions.

About AdvantageWest

AdvantageWest is a nonprofit, public-private partnership chartered by the state General Assembly in 1994, and serves the 23 counties of Western North Carolina. AdvantageWest’s program of work focuses on advanced manufacturing; entrepreneurial development activities, such as Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council (BREC) and the Certified Entrepreneurial Community Program (SM); agribusiness through Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a food business incubator, commercial kitchen and natural products manufacturing facility; and the green-collar jobs initiative, AdvantageGreen. AdvantageWest also maintains the Western North Carolina Film Commission. Visit for more information or call (828) 687-7234.

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Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Wmforo.

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