The Bringing It Home conference promises an engaging, diverse lineup of topics and speakers, all built around the theme of “building a local economy for everyone.” Here’s a look at the main conference sessions and speakers, as provided by the Self-Help Credit Union, which is hosting the conference.
• The Road Home: Magnificent Failures and Glorious Successes — Panelists will share what they learned from their biggest mistakes, along with thoughts on what’s needed in the community and advice for other entrepreneurs. Moderated by Patrick Fitzsimmons, executive director of Mountain BizWorks, panelists are: Hendersonville resident Kudzai Mabunda, a native of Zimbabwe who now owns Kay Family Care Home and two other home-care businesses; Arturo Osornio, who owns WNC construction company AB Builders, employing 15-25 people; and Jodi Rhoden, owner of Short Street Cakes bakery in West Asheville and a business coach with Mountain BizWorks.
• Home Cooking: Creating a Self-Sustaining Local Food Chain — Moderator Tim Will, a partner in the Catalpa Institute, recently won a Purpose Prize for his work in creating software to link farmers with restaurants. Panelists, who will describe their own efforts to create a self-sustaining local food chain, include: Rosetta Star, founder of Rosetta’s Kitchen and its satellite businesses; Cathy Cleary, co-owner of West End Bakery and founder of FEAST, a nonprofit that promotes healthy eating through hands-on classes; Olufemi Lewis, worker/owner and a founding member of Ujamaa Freedom Market, which sells fresh local food in low-income areas in Asheville; Molly Nicholie, local food campaign director for the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project; Carol Peppe Hewitt, director of Slow Money NC, a statewide network of lenders; and Chris Reedy, executive director of Blue Ridge Food Ventures.
• Home Building: Creating a Self-Sustaining New/Renewed Industry Segment: Fiberworks and Textiles — Kimberly Hunter, president of Prolific Consulting and a Self-Help advisory board member, will moderate. Panelists, who will describe their roles in creating a self-sustaining fiberworks and textile industry include: Molly Hemstreet, founder of Opportunity Threads, a worker-owned cut-and-sew facility, and co-founder of the Carolina Textile District, a strategic value chain supporting the resurgence of textiles across the Carolinas; Julie Jensen, owner/founder of Echoview Fiber Mill in Weaverville; Judi Jetson, a founder, chairwoman and executive director of Local Cloth, which aims to grow the fiber economy within 100 miles of Asheville; and Stephanie Swepson-Twitty, CEO of Eagle Market Streets Development and Block-by-Block Industries, a custom sewing operation in Asheville.
• Home Improvement: Local Economic Innovation — Moderator Kevin Jones is founder and co-owner of Good Capital, an impact investment fund that created one of the first social enterprise expansion funds. In this session, panelists, who will discuss how their work helps to build a healthy economy, include: Franzi Charen, founder/director of Asheville Grown Business Alliance and co-owner of Hip Replacements clothing store; Jeff Fobes, publisher of the independently owned Mountain Xpress alternative newspaper; Mark Hebbard, Living Wage Certification Program coordinator at Just Economics of Western North Carolina, which advocates for a just and sustainable local economy; James E. Lee III, workforce outreach coordinator at A-B Tech and chairman of the Minority Enterprise Development Board; and Sheneika Smith, founder/director of Date My City, which she describes as “a catalyst and engine of cultural regeneration in black and brown communities, building viable and sustainable social, political and economic power.”
• Keynote speech, “A Logical New Approach to Community Development,” will be delivered by Ed Whitfield, a longtime social justice activist and co-founder/co-managing director of the Fund for Democratic Communities. The private foundation based in Greensboro “supports community-based initiatives and institutions that foster authentic democracy to make communities better places to live,” notes its website.
• Home Investment: Sources of Local Capital — Moderator is Jeff Staudinger, assistant director of Community and Economic Development for the city of Asheville. Four panelists from community development financial institutions will describe their funding niches: Jane Hatley, Self-Help Credit Union’s western regional director; Erika McGilley, Natural Capital Investment Fund’s WNC business lender; Zurilma Anuel, Mountain Bizworks’ microbusiness lender; and Edward Timberlake Jr., senior loan underwriter for The Support Center.
Continuing the discussion, panelists Kimberly Daggerhart, crowdfunding campaign manager for JB Media Group, will offer a basic guide to crowdfunding; Josh Dorfman, who leads Venture Asheville, will talk about who should apply for funding from Asheville Angel Investors; Christopher McFatter, vice president/commercial real estate relationship manager at HomeTrust Bank, will discuss post-recession bank lending; and Carol Peppe Hewitt, director of Slow Money NC, will reveal how her two innovative funding sources are filling lending gaps. Each panelist also will offer tips on what steps small businesses should take to prepare themselves for funding.
• Regional Economic Innovation That Builds Local Economies — Becky Anderson, founder of HandMade in America and an economic development consultant, serves as moderator. Panelists are: Glenn Cox, executive director of HandMade in America, which aims to “grow economies through craft and creative placemaking”; Andrew Crosson, program manager at Rural Support Partners, a social enterprise working to strengthen organizations and networks across Appalachia and the Southeast toward a community-based regional economy; Jennifer Flynn, Blue Ridge Naturally brand manager and COO of Accelerating Appalachia, a nature-based business accelerator; Tom Llewellyn, network coordinator at Shareable, a nonprofit news, action and connection hub; Elizabeth “Liz” McIntosh, AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education; and Joe Riemann, director of cooperative business development for the Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund.
WHAT: Entrepreneurs, investors, nonprofit workers, business professionals and all other interested individuals are invited to attend the Bringing It Home economic conference.
WHERE: The Haynes Center at A-B Tech’s Enka campus
WHEN: Wednesday, March 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
TICKETS: $30 for general admission and $25 for students.
MORE INFO & RESERVATIONS: bringingithomewnc.org