AdvantageWest launches ‘ScaleUp WNC,’ a new program supporting small businesses

AdvantageWest executives and partners accept a ceremonial check from the U.S. Small Business Administration representing the first year’s installment of a multi-year, $1.2 million contract for the ScaleUp WNC initiative. Shown, from left: AdvantageWest Interim Director Kathi Petersen; Steve Poland and Marilyn McDonald, from Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College; AdvantageWest Vice President Matthew Raker; Hope Huskey, from the Cherokee-based Sequoyah Fund; Emily Breedlove, from Small Town Ventures, in Bryson City; Mike Arriola, Deputy Director of the SBA’s North Carolina District Office; and 1st Vice Chair Stephen Duncan, of the AdvantageWest board of directors. Photo courtesy of AdvantageWest

Today, Nov. 18, is National Entrepreneurs’ Day and Advantage West is celebrating by announcing more details about its new program to help grow WNC businesses.

Here’s the press release from the economic development organization:

(Nov. 18, 2014 – Fletcher, N.C.): With Western North Carolina’s history and heritage of entrepreneurial independence, an impressive number of training, funding, mentoring, and technical assistance resources are available across the region to aspiring small-business owners. Among those are the Advantage Opportunity Fund, Blue Ridge Food Ventures and Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council – all initiatives of AdvantageWest, the nonprofit regional economic development organization, and all serving primarily early-stage businesses.

Now, thanks to a five-year, $1.2 million contract award from the U.S. Small Business Administration, a new level of support will be available to help scalable small firms grow and create jobs. Led by AdvantageWest, ScaleUp WNC will provide intensive growth strategy development and implementation assistance to 150 Western North Carolina growth-oriented entrepreneurs. This stage of companies, after startup but before maturity, tends to be underserved in the region and across the country.

ScaleUp WNC offers a unique opportunity to help expand growth-oriented businesses and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem across the region. Twice a year, with training and technical assistance from project partners Ascent Business Network in Boone, N.C., A-B Tech Entrepreneurial Development Foundation in Asheville, N.C., and the Sequoyah Fund in Cherokee, N.C., the  highly competitive program will provide an intensive six-week education curriculum developed especially for established businesses. Each cohort, consisting of 15 business executives, will also receive one-on-one management support, assistance in connecting with growth capital, and the opportunity to strengthen connections and networks.

Using prior metrics as well as those from similar programs in other regions, this project aims to result in 600 new jobs created and $18 million in new capital raised by small businesses in Western North Carolina within three years of project completion. AdvantageWest was selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration as one of only eight organizations in the country to develop the project as part of SBA’s ScaleUp America initiative.

“The SBA is pleased to be able to provide this funding to our good partners at AdvantageWest,” said Deputy District Director Mike Arriola, of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s North Carolina office, based in Charlotte. “Having served in the past as the SBA officer for Western North Carolina, I have known AdvantageWest for 10 years and am fully confident in their ability to help our deserving entrepreneurs in this region ‘scale up’ to their next level of business success. We look forward, as our entrepreneurs here do, to an outstanding initiative here in the west.”

Applications are now being accepted through January 15 for the first cohort, which will start in late February. In December, AdvantageWest will host networking and informational events for potential candidates in four locations across the region, with each event featuring a presentation from a distinguished Western North Carolina entrepreneur [SEE SIDEBAR BELOW]. For eligibility requirements, dates and locations of networking events, and other facts about ScaleUp WNC, visit ScaleUpWNC.


Applications are now being accepted for the first ScaleUp WNC cohort, which begins in February 2015. Fifteen founders or executive managers of growth-oriented small businesses will be selected for each cohort through a competitive, merit-based application process. Businesses must be based in the 23 counties of Western North Carolina, have annual revenues between $150,000 and $500,000, have at least one full-time employee, and have identified opportunities for business expansion. The deadline to apply is January 15.

There is no cost to participate in ScaleUp WNC, thanks to funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but companies chosen are expected to make a firm commitment of time to participate in the program. For more information, visit

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.