Business in brief: Haakon Industries comes to Asheville, cybersecurity conference, apply for Elevate program

What’s news

  • Local startup Candle launched a Kickstarter campaign to bring its smartphone-charger-cum-mindfulness-enabler to market. According to a press release, Candle “draws on Asheville’s history of craft and design” and promotes an “innovative approach to digital health.” The product is the brainchild of three Asheville-area entrepreneurs who are receiving mentoring through Venture Asheville Elevate.
  • Mountain BizWorks announced it has added three members to its staff: Yaselin Gonzalez, small business lender; Kareen Boncales, learning services specialist; and Austin Tiller, lending services specialist.
  • Celtic Sea Salt was certified as a woman-owned business by the nonprofit NWBOC, which provides national certification for women- and veteran-owned companies.
  • Kevin Blocker joined Weichert Real Estate Affiliates’ Asheville office as a broker. Courtney Parris joined the franchise’s Hendersonville office as an agent.
  • Soft Surroundings will host a grand opening at the retail chain’s new location at 10 Brook St. in Biltmore Village on Friday, Oct. 19, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. The first 100 guests will receive a gift bag.

Haakon Industries to locate in Enka

British Columbia-based Haakon Industries announced plans to build a manufacturing plant in Enka. According to a press release, the facility will “create up to 160 new jobs in its first five years of operations,” with positions in assembly and production, machining and engineering, management and administration.

The company builds air handling units for large institutional facilities including hospitals, pharmaceutical laboratories, clean rooms, microchip manufacturers, universities and data centers.

Haakon plans to break ground in 2019 in the 350-acre Enka Commerce Park, the former home of American Enka.  The company also will hold a job fair and begin hiring for positions in the Asheville area in 2019.

Elevate application period closes Oct. 17

The Venture Asheville Elevate program provides startup entrepreneurs with free mentoring services to strengthen and support high-growth ventures in the Asheville area. Applications for the next year-long session of the program are open through Wednesday, Oct. 17.

To qualify, ventures must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a scalable business model.
  • At least one full-time founder on the business.
  • Live or work in Asheville or Buncombe County.
  • Product is already launched and in market (might not have revenue but you have something to sell).

More information and online application form at

Montreat College to host cybersecurity conference Nov. 2

For the fourth year, Montreat College will present its RETR3AT Cybersecurity Conference.

Held Friday, Nov. 2, RETR3AT aims to raise awareness about cybersecurity and also challenge attendees to consider the ethical issues associated with protecting an organization’s information.

“Cybersecurity and cyberwarfare are becoming the most critical national defense and economic crises of our time,” said Montreat College President Paul Maurer in a press release. “Montreat College seeks to play a formative role in shaping the nation’s approach to educating the cybersecurity leaders of the future by anchoring it, for the first time, in a character- and ethics-based curriculum.”

This year’s RETR3AT keynote speaker is Strategic Link Partners co-founder Joan Myers. As in previous years, the FBI mobile forensics lab will be on-site.

Tickets are $150. Learn more and register at


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

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