A-B Tech launches Startup Asheville initiative to support entrepreneurs and small businesses

Press release from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College:

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech) today announced the launch of its latest program to support entrepreneurs and drive local economic development. Called Startup Asheville, the initiative is tied to the A-B Tech Small Business Center and was created to help local entrepreneurs quickly and easily connect to support programs and resources, learn new skills, plug into the local ecosystem, and find inspiration from others.

The dedicated Startup Asheville webpage connecting entrepreneurs to free and low-cost support programs and resource providers, including current COVID-19 relief, can be found at startupavl.com. It also can be accessed from the A-B Tech Small Business Center page at abtech.edu/SBC.

“The launch of Startup Asheville at this time takes on even more significance as it is a resource that can help so many small business owners navigate our current crisis,” said Jill Sparks, executive director of the A-B Tech Small Business Center. “Startup Asheville is a strategic commitment by A-B Tech to promote entrepreneurship and the multitude of entrepreneurial resources available within our community. This ‘one-stop’ digital platform will make it easy for entrepreneurs to find what they need when they need it, as well as maintain a comprehensive calendar of related community events.”

Startup Asheville’s resource-rich website also provides access to free support, including:
-On-demand training on essential startup topics
-Easy access to the Small Business Center at A-B Tech
-Community event calendar, including online webinars and events
-Inspiring stories of local entrepreneurs, mentors, and more
-A private community messaging and collaboration platform

Startup Asheville is one of 10 similar initiatives launching throughout Western North Carolina this year, each led by community colleges and their presidents who are members of the NC Rural Community College Alliance.

“There is no question that small businesses are the life blood of Western North Carolina,” said A-B Tech Interim President Joseph Barwick. “That is why the Small Business Center at A-B Tech Enka has continued to provide advice and counsel to our area businesses and is launching Startup Asheville, which brings together an unprecedented array of support services that small businesses need now more than ever. When our economy is given the ‘green light,’ our intent is to see that our small businesses are fully ready, not just to participate, but to lead.”

As of 2015, almost half the workforce in the country worked in small businesses and companies with fewer than 20 employees had the largest net gains in jobs, Barwick said. “The rate of new business start-ups also has far outpaced business closings, and the survival rate has continued to increase. This is due largely to the rising talent of entrepreneurs and the expanding wealth of resources available to them. When this pandemic recedes and the doors are flung open again, it will be our small businesses that determine how quickly and how prosperously our economy recovers,” he said.

The NC Rural Community College Alliance was formed by Dr. Garrett Hinshaw, president of Hickory, NC-based Catawba Valley Community College in 2019 to align the efforts of a group of bold leaders who are united in activating and accelerating rural entrepreneurship.

Startup Asheville was developed in partnership with A-B Tech’s strategic partner, Supportedly, and made possible through the support of the John M. Belk Endowment and NC IDEA.

Visit startupavl.com to learn more about the regional initiative.

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