The Biz

Asheville’s own type-A mom Kelby Carr snagged a $12,000 grant from the McCormick New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative. Carr is one of four winners, selected from a whopping 576 proposals received this year, the third for the initiative. Applications increased 32 percent over last year’s 435, signaling the degree of imagination and market opportunities surfacing among women media entrepreneurs, says Jan Schaffer, director of J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism, which administers the program (j-lab.org).

Rev up the investigations: Kelby Carr hopes to see more bloggers tackling investigative projects, and now she’s got the grant to jump-start a locally run team. photo courtesy of Kelby Carr

“This year’s proposals not only identified smart opportunities, they also revealed significant technical know-how and business sensibilities for sustaining the projects,” Schaffer continues. Winning proposals had clear ideas for how to use the funds, prospects for scaling larger, and smart plans to frequently update and market their projects, she notes.

“The ambitious creativity of women media entrepreneurs shines brightly,” says Clark Bell, journalism program director for the Chicago-based McCormick Foundation, which funds the New Media Women Entrepreneurs initiative. Each project will receive $12,000 to launch within a year. Project leaders will blog about their experience at www.newmediawomen.org.

Carr’s project is Investigative Mommy Blogger. Building on a successful report on the safety of shopping carts, Carr and a team will focus on new projects, using a network of mom bloggers — whatever their level of experience with investigative work. “When I was in newspapers, it was always a struggle to have time for investigations. With this this kind of project, you get lots of folks involved at different levels, [teaching] and encouraging them,” Carr tells Xpress. The grant will help fund the hiring of two part-time workers, setting up a database and crowdsourcing stories and data gathering. What’s on the horizon for Carr, who also runs the Type-A Mom forum and conference? Maybe school lunches and what’s really being served…

J-Lab is a center of American University’s School of Communication in Washington, D.C. More ideas will be shared at the Nov. 8 New Media Women Entrepreneurs Summit in Washington, D.C. To attend, register at http://www.newmediawomen.org/events/register.

Ask the experts

On July 1, U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler announced a pair of information sessions that will take place in Western North Carolina for existing and potential small business owners. These “Ask the Experts: What’s new for small businesses in 2010” events will focus on access to capital and entrepreneurial development, offering updates about new opportunities as well as providing a forum for attendees to ask questions about their small businesses or startups.

Participating agencies include the Small Business Centers at Blue Ridge and Haywood Community colleges, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Small Business and Technology Development Center, SCORE, Mountain BizWorks, the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service, AdvantageWest, the Haywood Certified Entrepreneurial Community Team and other business incubator agencies.

“The unemployment rate in most of Western North Carolina exceeds the national rate of 9.7 percent. Since small businesses generate 60 percent of new jobs in this country, one of the best ways we can improve our local economy and create more jobs is to support our local small businesses,” Shuler said in a news release.

The first event will take place on Monday, July 12, from 2 to 4 p.m., at the Flat Rock campus of Blue Ridge Community College in the Blue Ridge Conference Hall, Cortland Room. On Tuesday, July 13, from 9 to 11 a.m., the second event will be held at Haywood Community College’s auditorium in Building 1500 on the Clyde campus.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our American economy, and nowhere is that more evident than in Western North Carolina … in part due to the great work of the local SBA, Mountain BizWorks, SCORE, the SBTDC and the small business centers at our area community colleges. I’m grateful for their participation in these sessions and for their ongoing assistance to our local small businesses.”

Attendance for both events is free and open to the public, but advance registration is requested. To register or get more information, contact Shuler’s office at 252-1651.

Designing woman: Leslie Shaw

American Advertising Federation Asheville awarded local designer Leslie Shaw its 2010 Member of the Year award. At the federation’s June meeting, Asheville president Jeff Howell presented the award to Shaw in recognition of her outstanding service to AAFA in 2009-10. An Asheville native, she has been in business as a graphic designer in Asheville for 14 years (www.leslieshawdesign.com). The American Advertising Federation Asheville chapter was formed in 2009, and is Western North Carolina's advertising trade association (www.aafasheville.org).

Direct your business news to Michael Muller (251-1333, ext. 154) or to business@mountainx.com.

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