Business, nonprofit roundup: WNC Career Expo coming April 17

NOW HIRING: More than 80 local employers in advanced manufacturing, health care, hospitality and more will have the opportunity to connect with career seekers Wednesday, April 17, during the WNC Career Expo. Photo courtesy of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Unemployment in the Asheville metro area has remained flat over the past year at 3.1%, according to February numbers from the N.C. Department of Commerce. That puts Asheville’s unemployment below the national average of 3.9% over the same period. 

Over the past year, Asheville saw growth among its construction jobs, professional services, hospitality and health care industries. At the same time, the city saw a reduction in the transportation and manufacturing fields.

More than 80 local employers in advanced manufacturing, health care, hospitality and more will have the opportunity to connect with career seekers Wednesday, April 17, during the WNC Career Expo.

Hosted by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, the event will be held at the Davis Event Center at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center at 761 Boylston Highway in Fletcher from 11a.m.-4p.m. 

Employers will have the opportunity to interview candidates and make employment offers on the spot, and employment experts from NCWorks Career Centers will also offer free interview and resume preparation and support. A student-focused career path exploration will also be available. The career expo is free and open to all job seekers, and registration is not required. Interested employers may register before Friday, April 12, at

Made by Mountains awards 6 grants

The Made by Mountains partnership announced its second round of grant recipients in its Building Outdoor Communities Program. The six grantees awarded include projects that demonstrate their high impact, connectivity, regional potential and sustainability benefit to enhance outdoor community and economic development. 

The grants have been made possible through $250,000 in funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Dogwood Health Trust. This funding is part of the three-year Accelerating Outdoors Grant awarded to the Made by Mountains partnership. 

The second round of grantees and projects includes: Watauga County — Arts in the Outdoors Strategic Master Plan;  Madison County — Bailey Mountain Preserve – Otis Duck Greenway Connector Feasibility Study; and Cherokee County —  Valley River Heritage Trail Greenway/Blueway Master Plan. View the full list of recipients at

Catalyst Sports welcomes Emily Moscoe

Catalyst Sports, a nonprofit that supports people with physical disabilities in adventure sports, welcomed Emily Moscoe as a full-time adaptive climbing director. An occupational therapist and experienced climber, Moscow says that she began volunteering with Catalyst in July 2021.

Worthington joins Urban3

Urban3, an Asheville-based land use economics and geoanalytics consultant agency, announced that Heather Worthington has joined the team as a principal and will be responsible for guiding the company’s client outreach and acquisition strategies, staff professional development and day-to-day operations. Worthington led the development of the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan and worked as deputy county manager for Ramsey County, Minn., where she oversaw the redevelopment of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant. 

Wiedrich named president, CEO of FIND

The board of directors and search committee of FIND Outdoors, a Pisgah Forest-based outdoor recreation nonprofit, selected Stacey Wiedrich to serve as the president and CEO starting Jan. 29. Before joining FIND Outdoor, Wiedrich was the interim executive director for Pisgah Area Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association and the development director for Bicycle Colorado.

SkillSet receives $499,860 grant

The SkillSet program at the University of North Carolina, which was founded in 2018 and aims to address the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, arts and math fields, received a $499,860 grant from the Dogwood Health Trust last month. The grant, which will be distributed over five years, will allow Skillset to expand off-site by adding a cargo van and hiring a bilingual full-time employee to expand programming to migrant and English-learning communities. Students will be employed to help develop curriculum and teach classes. More information at

Working Wheels receives $50,000 grant

Working Wheels, an Asheville-based nonprofit that provides affordable transportation options to working families in Western North Carolina, received a $50,000 grant from the State of North Carolina. Republican Sen. Warren Daniel, who represents Buncombe, Burke and McDowell counties, advocated including the grant in the state budget. The grant will be used to increase services, which include repairing and selling donated cars for $500 to working families and offering deeply discounted vehicle repairs. The nonprofit’s goal is to serve more than 400 households in 2024. For more information or to make a donation, visit

STEM grant to help Indigenous students

UNC Asheville and Western Carolina University will share a $220,000 grant from the Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership to support indigenous students pursuing degrees and careers in the science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM, fields over the next four years.  

The partnership is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and is part of a joint award with Purdue University and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, which addresses the underrepresentation of Native American students in STEM fields by creating pathways for undergraduate Indigenous students to mentoring, research opportunities, community and funding.

Hazel, Tudico to lead Moxy Asheville

McKibbon Hospitality, a Tampa, Fla.-based hotel management group, has named Dexter Hazel and Jamie Tudico to lead the opening of Moxy Asheville, a hotel featuring 115 guest rooms and suites that is expected to open this summer. The new hotel will contain a signature cocktail bar and will be connected to the existing Aloft Asheville Downtown. Hazel will serve as dual general manager, while Tudico will work as the market director of sales.

New train ride through the Smokies in May

The Watauga Valley Railroad Museum, a nonprofit educational organization located in Jonesborough, Tenn.,  is adding a Spring Blossom train excursion on Saturday, May 24, to its available train rides. The excursion through the Great Smoky Mountains will take place Saturday, May 4, and include educational information about the region’s railroad history. More information at

Thrive launches executive director search

Civic infrastructure nonprofit Thrive Asheville launched an executive director search after Casey Gilbert, who was hired for the position in October, and the Thrive board “mutually agreed she was not a fit for the executive director position” following a 90-day review. Rachel Zink is serving as interim director while consultant Greg Walker Wilson leads the search effort. 

Music City Asheville to close after 35 years 

After 35 years of independent ownership, owner Jerry Lyda of Music City Asheville announced that he is retiring and will close the store Monday, April 29. Located at 1408 Patton Ave. Suite C in Asheville, Lyda says that it will offer sales on musical equipment all month. More information at

WNC foundation hands out grants 

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that builds capital for charitable causes in 18 counties  totaling $82,117. Among the grantees and projects are: $10,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau for a beautification project along public sidewalks beside the organization’s building in Cashiers; $10,000 to Safelight, a nonprofit for survivors of interpersonal violence, sexual assault and child abuse, to beautify the area surrounding two buildings it owns in downtown Hendersonville; and $10,000 to Rutherford County Visual Artists Guild to assist in creating an original mural that will be painted on the exterior wall of the guild’s building in downtown Rutherfordton. A full list of grantees and projects is available at

Zelda Dearest named finalist in HD Awards 

Boutique hotel Zelda Dearest has been named a finalist in the 20th annual HD Awards from Hospitality Design magazine, which celebrates the best in design around the world. Zelda Dearest is one of five finalists in the HD Awards’ new Small Hotel (50 rooms and fewer) category. Winners will be announced during an award ceremony on Tuesday, April 30, at the Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas during the HD Expo and Conference.

Opened in October, the 20-room hotel encompasses three early 20th-century mansions in Asheville’s South Slope neighborhood and celebrates the life and aesthetic of writer Zelda Fitzgerald 

UNCA names Yvonne Villanueva-Russell as provost

The UNC Asheville board of trustees executive and governance committee unanimously approved Yvonne Villanueva-Russell as provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs effective Monday, July 1. The decision follows a nationwide search that began in December.

Villanueva-Russell graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Western Illinois University, where she also earned her master’s degree. She then completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Villanueva-Russell will succeed Herman Holt, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and former dean of graduate and social programs, who has served as interim provost since January 2023.

Mountain BizWorks adds 15 firms to ScaleUp WNC 

Mountain BizWorks selected 15 Western North Carolina-based companies for the 12th cohort of the ScaleUp program, which offers the companies intensive growth-management training, connects them to mentors and helps with access to capital. The companies include a range of businesses, including fitness, outdoors, food, creative sectors and more. Two-thirds of this cohort’s participants are women-owned; one-third are owned by entrepreneurs of color; and one-third are owned by rural entrepreneurs.  A full list of companies in the cohort can be found at

Mothership Tattoo Co. now open

Mothership Tattoo Co., at 1269 Tunnel Road, Suite C, Asheville, is open. The shop features four artists, including owner Mason Turbyfill, who specializes in full-color, neotraditional tattoos; Darian Michels, who specializes in black and gray and color realism; and apprentices Wendy Harmon and Toby Cox. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday noon-7 p.m.

Adlib Clothing store celebrates 35th anniversary

Downtown Asheville boutique Adlib Clothing will celebrate its 35th year in business with an “Anniversoiree,” 5-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, at the store at 23 Haywood St. It is free and open to the public and will feature live music by local musicians Mr. Jimmy and Paul McIntire. Small bites and beverages will be offered, as well as the chance to win door prizes. More information at

Mountain Credit Union to hold diabetes golf fundraiser

Mountain Credit Union, which has seven branch offices throughout Western North Carolina, announced its Tee it Up for Diabetes golf tournament fundraiser scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, at Springdale Resort in Canton. The tournament will raise funds to benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. For sponsorship or player registration, visit

Sanctuary of Stuff celebrates 20 years

Sanctuary of Stuff, an artisan clothing and gift shop at 440 Weaverville Highway, Asheville, is celebrating 20 years in business. The store, which houses more than 150 area local artists and vendors, is offering various customer appreciation promotions.

“I am incredibly grateful to our loyal customers who have been integral to our success and longevity,” says owner Sharie Johnson.


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