The job-strapped North Carolina town where Andy Griffith was born and served as the model for his fictional TV town Mayberry is banking on TV titan Glenn Beck to bring back prosperity with a new factory.
The mayor of Mount Airy wrote to Beck urging him to set up a factory to base his new clothing line in the town.
Deborah Cochran took the step after Beck said he was searching for a place to make his 1791 line, which will raise money for his Mercury One charity. “Out there somewhere is a town searching for a second chance — a mill waiting to be reopened,” Beck says in a video on his website.
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Immediately after seeing the video, Cochran emailed Beck to state the case of Mount Airy, a town of 10,300 on the Virginia border. “We have several empty manufacturing plants,” she wrote.
Cochran told Beck she is a “huge fan” and said the only reason she ran for mayor in 2009 was because she had personal experience of the 10,000 locals whose jobs in the textile industry have been lost. “I ran for office simply because my brother lost his job in the hosiery mill,” she wrote.
Mount Airy has plenty of claims to fame for such a small town, besides being Griffith’s birthplace and Mayberry. It also was home to Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins, and many of their descendants — they had 21 children between them — still live in the area.
But unemployment in Surry County, which includes the city, now stands at 10.9 percent. The area has been badly hit as clothing manufacturing jobs have moved abroad, and this is why Cochran thinks it would be ideal for Beck’s factory.
Others, though, aren’t ready to turn to Beck for salvation — at least not yet. The city’s board of commissioners would not support Cochran’s plan because of Beck’s controversial ultra-conservative views, a source told the local Mount Airy News.
But Cochran said jobs should trump personal views. “All things are possible if we believe,” she said. “You never know.”
Beck chose the name 1791 for his line as it is the year the Bill of Rights was signed.
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