Accelerating Appalachia hosts local economies activist and author Judy Wicks at 2015 cohort wrap-up party, May 14

Photo of Judy Wicks courtesy of the author

After completing an intensive real-world master’s course in strategic business growth, nature-based business accelerator Accelerating Appalachia’s 2015 cohort of members is preparing to celebrate and share experiences with the public. The Pitch Party, held at the Millroom on Thursday, May 14, at 5 p.m., will see several of the participating companies presenting and offering product demos alongside Accelerating Appalachia supporter and local economies activist Judy Wicks.

“The young entrepreneurs I’m hearing about in Asheville — starting businesses their community needs, bringing their love, care and energy to build a beautiful business for their community — inspire me,” says Wicks, co-founder of Be a Localist and Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and author of Good Morning Beautiful Business: The Unexpected Journey of an Activist Entrepreneur and Local Economy Pioneer.

“We are transitioning from an economy that has failed us — that has created inequality and ecological collapse,” continues Wicks, “to a regenerative and locally based economy. Working with nature is how we’ve lived for most of our existence up until the last hundreds of years, but now [this concept] presents itself as a new opportunity for new owners, especially communities that have been left out and abandoned by the global, multinational economy. It’s a great time to invest in entrepreneurs that are building healthy local economies in Appalachia and Asheville.”

The author will provide the event’s keynote speech, but 2015 cohort members like Farmer-Baker-Sausage Maker (in association with Harvest Moon Grille), Green River Picklers, GrowJourney, River Island Apothecary and Smiling Hara Tempeh will also be in attendance to speak about their companies’ milestones.

“We are superexcited about this crop of businesses, how much they’ve progressed and that Judy Wicks is joining us as keynote speaker,” says Sara Day Evans, Accelerating Appalachia founder, who launched the first cohort of 10 members in 2013.

“After finishing the crash course in business — which uses seasoned entrepreneurs as mentors and facilitates connections with a robust network of top advisers, networks and investment funds — these companies created more than 35 regional jobs … and added more than 100 new acres to the sustainable farming sector, with a dozen new farmers entering supply chains,” reads a release from the organization.

“We help our nature-based businesses build out all aspects of business development, scale sustainably, connect to supply chains and prepare for investment and pitches,” Evans told Xpress earlier this year. “Plus, we connect them to a peer, mentor and investor network that is regional, national and global.”

Although Accelerating Appalachia does not help facilitate the transfer of money to cohort members, students learn to refine their pitches (among other lessons) while completing educational sessions at Warren Wilson College, and they’re linked into a network of eco-conscious investors.

Visit to learn more about the organization or to purchase tickets ($15 plus fee) to attend the Pitch Party.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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