HandMade in America will close on July 31 after 20 years of service

From HandMade in America:

Asheville, NC – HandMade in America (HIA) will be closing its doors on July 31, 2015 after 20 years of service. However, HIA’s programs may continue to grow through other nonprofit organizations that serve the Western North Carolina (WNC) region. HandMade in America’s leadership has recently been in discussion with organizations that share a similar mission in an effort to pass along HIA’s programs such as the Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs and Small Town Revitalization. News will be announced as agreements are reached.

“It is very bittersweet to be making decisions around ceasing HIA’s programmatic operations. This iconic institution has served as an innovator, incubator, and brain trust for community economic development, policy/advocacy, and entrepreneurship training for over 20 years. They will be sorely missed by their nonprofit peers, WNC’s small towns and the numerous artists with whom they have tirelessly and willingly served. HandMade in America leaves a legacy of being committed to creating economies of scale for Western North Carolina artists and the small towns they reside in, towns where craft and art continue to play an integral and vital role in sustaining the economy,” says Stephanie Swepson-Twitty, Board Chair for HandMade in America.

HandMade in America has seen much success over the years with their work in WNC’s small towns and their business training opportunities for creative entrepreneurs. HIA has worked with 14 small towns through their revolutionary Small Town Revitalization program. HIA’s practice for working with small towns has become known as creative placemaking and is now the driver of community and economic development in both rural and urban areas seeking their own identities. In addition to their small town work, HIA’s creative entrepreneurship training throughout the region has allowed hundreds of entrepreneurs to develop the skills they need to be innovative, small business owners.  Their service area has covered 25 counties of WNC and the Cherokee Qualla Boundary, totaling 11,000 square miles.

HandMade in America was founded on their efforts to assist the small towns and communities of WNC transition their economies from the mills that once dotted the region to an economy based on the arts, culture, history, and recreation assets that define the unique and authentic character of the region that in-turn, has driven the economy of WNC for the past 20 years. HIA has been instrumental in WNC’s global reputation for a high quality of life, extensive cultural offerings, and thriving, creative community industries where craft, heritage, and culture are seen as key investments.

HandMade in America grows economies through craft and creative placemaking, transforming both individuals and communities through education, entrepreneurship and economic development. HandMade in America has a 20 year tradition of pioneering innovative ways to empower the people and towns of Western North Carolina through programs that educate and facilitate the needs of creative entrepreneurs and communities. Additional information is available online at handmadeinamerica.org or by calling (828) 252-0121.

About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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