Julie Osburne gathered her inspiration for ExchangeTree from her time spent traveling and busking around the U.S. and Canada. Photo courtesy of Julie Osburne.

Branching out: ExchangeTree links people, needs in WNC

All over the country, collaborative economies are sprouting like dandelions. In the last few months, something uniquely Asheville has blossomed. And though ExchangeTree is still in its “training wheels” phase, the site (which, at this point, is operating only in Asheville and Boston) is fully operational. Rather than couch-to-couch traveling or currency-based exchanges, however, it works via barter.

Commissioners approve $50,000 for Mountain Bizworks microloans on party line vote-attachment0

Commissioners approve $50,000 for Mountain BizWorks microloans on party line vote

Buncombe Commissioners voted along party lines April 1 to give Mountain Bizworks $50,000 toward a new microloan program that will help small local businesses get needed capital. The local business nonprofit will leverage the county funds to receive an additional $300,000 from the federal Small Business Association Microloan Program.

N.C. Treasurer Cowell discusses Asheville, state economy-attachment0

N.C. Treasurer Cowell discusses Asheville, state economy

The freezing temperatures didn’t stop North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell from laying out her take on the state of the economy, or prevent a crowd, including many local notables, from showing up to hear, and ask questions. She praised Asheville’s strong economy and “human capital” but noted challenges with infrastructure and state revenue. Photo by Alicia Funderburk

Buncombe Commissioners approve incentives, new hires, zoning regulations-attachment0

Buncombe Commissioners approve incentives, new hires, zoning regulations

At their first meeting of 2014 on Jan. 7, Buncombe County Commissioners unanimously agreed to give $1.12 million in cash grants to Jacob Holm Industries to help it expand local operations. They also agreed to spend $213,726 to hire 17 new county workers at the Health and Human Services Department and approved new zoning regulations governing renewable energy facilities.

Feeling the crunch: Mountain BizWorks tackles funding crisis-attachment0

Feeling the crunch: Mountain BizWorks tackles funding crisis

Struggling to address an increased demand for services amid a funding crunch, Mountain BizWorks is conducting “an intensive review of our programs and finances,” board Chair Eileen McMinn reports. Most of the organization’s existing training programs will be phased out by the middle of next year. The downsized local nonprofit will focus its remaining resources on lending.