ATTENTIVE AUDIENCE: Over 250 businesswomen listen to a keynote speaker during the Western Women’s Business Conference. The sellout conference brings together businesspeople ranging from restaurateurs to attorney recruiters gathered for a day of workshops, networking and female empowerment. Photo by Molly Horak

Western Women’s Business Conference celebrates diversity and empowermen­t

With balloons, fancy hats, Zumba and gospel singing all featuring as part of the activities in the full-day Western Women’s Business Conference on June 21, it wasn’t your average business gathering. Designed to support and empower women in business, especially women of color and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, the conference was chock-full of inspiration and success stories.

ALL IN THE FAMILY BUSINESS: Twenty-seven countries were represented at the 13th annual Family Enterprise Research Conference at UNC Asheville. Photo by Audra Goforth.

UNCA hosts internatio­nal conference on family businesses

  A weekend of family business experiences and research filled the Renaissance Asheville Hotel in early June, bringing together attendees from 27 countries. The 13th annual Family Enterprise Research Conference was hosted by the Family Business Forum at UNC Asheville. Held annually, FERC brings together family businesses and representatives from all over the world who […]

"This was a personal satisfaction to know that you were the owner of your things," Guerra, a member of the Emma community said. Photo by Kari Barrows

Housing co-ops, a potential affordable housing solution

The second in a three-part series on innovative models for promoting affordable homeownership sponsored by the city of Asheville focused on housing cooperatives. The May 4 education and information event provided perspectives from national experts as well as representatives of the Dulce Lomita Mobile Home Cooperative in Asheville.

The site of a 112-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Meadow Road. The Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously approved the hotel application. Graphic courtesy of the city of Asheville

P&Z approves its final big hotel

Asheville’s Planning & Zoning Commission heard the last hotel zoning application submitted under the city’s previous zoning rules, which changed on Feb. 14. The commission approved a 112-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel planned for 26 Meadow Road. Moving forward, any hotel project with more than 20 rooms will have to make its case to City Council as a conditional zoning application. The conditional zoning process gives the elected officials more discretion than P&Z’s guidelines allow.

TIDAL WAVE: Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. With nearly half of local businesses owned by baby-boomers, economic analysts are working to draw attention to the impending mass retirements of these owners, while others advocate alternative succession plans, like employee cooperatives. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads.

Passing the torch: What happens when local business owners retire?

With 45 percent of business owners in Buncombe County alone facing retirement in the next decade, local groups and service providers are encouraging them to start planning for their company’s next chapter, while simultaneously devising ways to turn an impending crisis into an opportunity for employees to shoulder new responsibilities.

LEGALIZED IT: North Carolina passed legislation allowing farmers to grow industrial hemp in 2015. But barriers still stymie farmers hoping to develop hemp as a new cash crop. Photo courtesy of Vote Hemp

DEA holds up industrial hemp in North Carolina

Local farmers are still holding out hope that 2017 will be the year industrial hemp grows in WNC fields for the first time in decades. But the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration isn’t making it easy for growers to source seed or seedlings in time for planting, which may mean another year of waiting for eager prospective hemp growers.

GET MOVING: The newest section of the French Broad River Greenway — open and ready for action. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Asheville’s newest section of greenway opens next to New Belgium Brewery

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newest section of the French Broad River Greenway was held Friday, April 21, at the foot of the New Belgium brewery as part of the city of Asheville’s Earth Week Celebration. Representatives from the many public and private partnerships that had a role in the development of this section, called […]

SEW SUSTAINABLE: Asheville's sewing scene is growing, both for businesses and hobbyists. Photo by Kari Barrows

Local businesses aim to make clothing more sustainabl­e

Industry studies show consumers are growing tired of fast, disposable fashion. In addition to a greater awareness of where clothes come from and the impact of their production, a new interest in extending the life of clothing or reusing materials to create new garments is fueling a resurgence of sewing skills in this region and around the country.