Biz briefs: Asheville recognized for startup climate, second Habitat ReStore to open

Grand opening of Auntie Anne's and Cinnabon at Asheville Regional Airport
MAKING DOUGH: Officials from Asheville Regional Airport and concessions operator Paradies Lagardère cut the ribbon in front of the airport's new Auntie Anne's and Cinnabon location. Photo courtesy of Asheville Regional Airport

Study names Asheville one of best small cities for startups

According to personal finance website WalletHub, Asheville is the nation’s 39th best small city in which to start a business. A combination of industry variety, high workforce educational attainment and low labor costs helped the city beat out over 1,200 other markets with fewer than 100,000 residents.

Asheville also ranked 240th in business environment, 113th in access to resources and 136th in business costs. Other regional players listed in the WalletHub study include Gainesville, Ga., in 23rd place overall, Greenville, S.C., in 37th; and Hickory in 405th.  

Opportunity on offer through Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH holds a reverse job fair on Wednesday, May 8, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the DoubleTree Biltmore Hotel at 115 Hendersonville Road. The event seeks to connect employers with the program’s interns — young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities — who have been training at Mission Health for the previous 10 months.

Local supporters of the program include Biltmore Company, Buncombe County, Biltmore Farms and Wicked Weed Brewing. “I have had the opportunity to meet and interview these interns and they are each eager for an employment opportunity and want to use the skills they have obtained,” says Natalie Shaft, human resources director for Biltmore Farms.

Tips of the hat

  • On May 1, Venture Asheville awarded five $5,000 grants to accelerate early-stage startups in the city. Out of 99 applicants, the winners were migraine treatment developer Relaspen, plus-sized garment maker No Sweat Undies, city guide website Burban, fair-trade tea seller 3 Mountains and wedding platform Asheville Wedding Collective.
  • The Durham-based NC IDEA foundation chose three Western North Carolina companies from a field of 136 hopefuls to receive $10,000 project grants. Asheville maker of stroke rehabilitation equipment AlonTree, Marshall essential oil purveyor Blue Ridge Aromatics and Hickory distiller Lamassu Arak all got the nod, along with 12 other startups from throughout the state.
  • Five area women “who strive toward the highest levels of personal and professional accomplishments” are in the running for the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce’s annual ATHENA Award. The nominees — Peggy Frisbee Allen, Jackie Dula, Julia Hockenberry, Patsy Farmer Jones and Barbara Morgan — will be honored at a reception on Thursday, May 9, with the winner announced on Thursday, May 16.

Open for business

  • Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity is planning to open a second Habitat ReStore in Weaverville by late summer. With plans to operate Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., the shop will be smaller than the Asheville location in Biltmore Village but offer a similar mix of used furniture, appliances, building supplies and more.
  • Travellers at Asheville Regional Airport can now buy Auntie Anne’s pretzels and Cinnabon cinnamon rolls after the April 26 grand opening of a joint location. “With growth comes exciting new opportunities to provide amenities for our passengers,” said Lew Bleiweis, executive director of the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority.

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About Daniel Walton
Daniel Walton is the former news editor of Mountain Xpress. His work has also appeared in Sierra, The Guardian, and Civil Eats, among other national and regional publications. Follow me @DanielWWalton

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