Biz briefs: The Industrial Commons receives $1 million grant

BRINGING HOME THE BACON: The Industrial Commons, a nonprofit that provides resources and support to industrial companies and workers in Western North Carolina, received a $1 million grant from The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. “We hope this prize gives us more opportunities to lift up worker voices from the plant floor and together continue to make great places to work in Western North Carolina,” said Co-Executive Director Molly Hemstreet. Photo courtesy of The Industrial Commons

The Industrial Commons wins big

Morganton-based nonprofit The Industrial Commons snagged $1 million in funding from The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, one of just 10 awards announced Dec. 3 by the Communities Thrive Challenge. The winners were chosen from 1,826 initial applications through a selection process that included evaluation rounds, site visits, interviews and reviews.

According to a press release, “The Industrial Commons provides resources and support to firms, networks, and workers in industrial Western North Carolina. It aims to improve livelihoods and root wealth in communities.” The $1 million grant award will support multiyear initiatives that will “support existing programs, launch two new enterprises, contribute to the construction of a manufacturing campus and strengthen the organization’s social enterprise, fee-for-service model.”

Co-Executive Director Sara Chester tells Xpress that The Industrial Commons works with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and partners with Mountain BizWorks for workshops and education. “We also work closely with Self-Help Credit Union,” Chester says. “Through some of our enterprises, like the Carolina Textile District, we work with Asheville-area manufacturers like Sew Co. (located in [Hendersonville’s] Oriole Mill) and Diamond Brand Gear.”

On the move

  •  The Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority announced that Frank Wheeler is the authority’s new director of administration and human resources. Wheeler was most recently senior human resources manager at Nypro Healthcare.
  • Caitlyn M. Sun joined The Van Winkle Law Firm’s intellectual property practice group as a patent agent. She will work with the firm’s intellectual property team preparing and prosecuting patent applications before the U.S. Patent Office.  Before joining the firm, Sun was a member of a chemical engineering research group at Northwestern University, followed by a bioengineering research group at Stanford University. In these roles, she primarily focused on analytical chemistry, biotechnology and quality control in the biopharmaceutical industry.
  • Michael Hoffman joined Tessier Associates as executive vice president and broker-in-charge. Hoffman will lead and manage the company’s team of commercial and residential brokers.

Venture Asheville highlights local entrepreneurs in awards event

Venture Asheville unveiled a list of the 15 fastest-growing Asheville-area startups, along with its mentor, investor, entrepreneur and resource of the year and the Shining Rock Award on Dec. 6 at the inaugural Venture 15 and Venture Honors awards ceremony.

In 2018, the 15 fastest-growing startups raised a total revenue of $51.9 million. Eleven out of the 15 are past, present or future members of Venture Asheville’s Elevate mentorship program. The No. 1 spot was awarded to Elite HRV, a health app that increased its compounded annual growth rate by over 200 percent in the last two years.

Other honorees included:

  • Ginger Frank, owner of Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn, entrepreneur of the year.
  • Miller Williams, investor of the year.
  • Chris Buehler, mentor of the year.
  • 1 Million Cups, resource program of the year.
  • Alon Kaplan received The Shining Rock Award, which honors a tenacious and resilient entrepreneur in the community.

During the event, Venture Asheville also announced its newest cohort of 17 area startups.

In partnership with Green Opportunities, Venture was recently accepted into NC IDEA’s Ice House Facilitator Training. By using materials and training developed by the Kaufmann Foundation, Venture and GO will work together to develop the entrepreneurial mindset in underemployed and unemployed individuals in the spring.

Venture announced its new Asheville Impact Micro-Grant Program, which aims to raise funds to support the efforts of early-stage startups with grants of up to $5,000.

Deltec Homes celebrates 50 years

Founded in 1968 as Delta Technologies by brothers Wayne and Robert Kinser, the panelized building company originally specialized in A-frame houses but changed course once they realized the form’s disadvantages.

“We built a few and realized how inefficient they were in terms of heating and use of space,” said the late founder Robert Kinser. “The round houses had much more possibilities.”

For over 20 years after that insight, the company built its round structures primarily for vacation resorts. As guests inquired about the unique structures for everyday living, the business shifted from commercial to residential and in 1995, the name officially changed to Deltec Homes.

Deltec Homes has shipped over 5,000 homes from its manufacturing facility in West Asheville, which operates with 100 percent renewable energy. In 2016, Deltec became the first prefabricated home builder to receive B Corp certification, which recognizes social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability.

The Toy Box to close Dec. 22

Gary Green, the owner of The Toy Box on Merrimon Avenue, announced in November that the store would close on Dec. 22 after over 30 years of operation.

The store is holding a liquidation sale of its inventory, with discounts of 10-50 percent off its regular prices.



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About Virginia Daffron
Managing editor, lover of mountains, native of WNC. Follow me @virginiadaffron

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