Venture Local: Conference explores the local-business movement

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council will host Venture Local, a forum that convenes investors and business owners for a discussion of the growing local-business movement. And the night before, Asheville Green Drinks will host Slow Money NC’s co-founder, Carol Peppe Hewitt, for a discussion about the importance of investing in local “food sheds.”

“Venture Local is an opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs to gather and learn about growth opportunities and sustainable economics in Asheville,” says conference coordinator Jonathan Robert. “It’s about jobs, it’s about import replacement, it’s about making the backyard economy more efficient and sustainable.”

Regional development partnership Advantage West helped bring presenters from Western North Carolina and across the country to address “work that is key and crucial to our local economy,” Roberts explains.

The first half of the five-hour forum will focus on local economic opportunities in such fields as food, fiber, energy and technology. Speakers include David McConville, president of the Buckminster Fuller Institute, a national economic organization, and local presenters such as baker and food activist Jennifer Lapidus, general manager for Carolina Ground. Presentations will emphasize the region’s opportunities for sustainable economic development.

Robert says that Carolina Ground is a good example of what Venture Local is all about: The organization links grain farmers, millers and bakers.

“We’re for-profit, but mission-driven,” says Lapidus. “We view wheat as an agricultural product, not as a commodity, and try to keep the money in the farmers’ and bakers’ pockets.”

Lapidus adds that Carolina Ground is both an environmental and an economic project, financed by what she calls “empathetic investors.” Such investors will be another key focus of Venture Local. The second half of the forum’s agenda will investigate creative financing opportunities and feature representatives from national organizations such as Kevin Jones, founder of Social Capital, and members of local groups, such as Shaw Canale, executive director of Mountain Bizworks.

The Venture Local forum will be held at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel on Thursday, Oct. 27, from 1 – 5 p.m. It will be followed by an hour-long “farm-to-table networking reception.”  Registration for the event is $20. To register, or for more information, visit venturelocalwnc.com.

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