The Biz: WNC Business Briefs

Better business through poetry

Internationally acclaimed poet, speaker and naturalist David Whyte will be in Asheville Saturday, May 8, for a morning lecture and afternoon workshop designed to help local businesses navigate the current economic climate. A favorite of Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits alike, Whyte is noted for his insight, wisdom and humor. "No matter what your line of business or service, David offers a new way of looking at how we as individuals do the work we do," says Laura Hope-Gill of Asheville Wordfest, which is sponsoring the event along with the Mountain Area Information Network, the WriteMind Institute for Corporate Contemplation and the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Tag, your it:Maggie, a 14 year-old chocolate lab, was the inspiration for Jack Carrier's online business Carrier uses designs from local artists, including this one by Michelle Shadrick. Photo courtesy DogTagArt

The cost is $50 for the morning lecture, $125 for the afternoon workshop, or $150 for the whole day.
For details or to register, e-mail Hope-Gill at

Old dog, new tricks

If you've heard of Jack Carrier's new Web-based Asheville business, DogTagArt, you know that he sells custom-made ID tags for pets based on artwork created by more than 40 artists, many of them local. You may also know that A-B Tech's Small Business Incubator awarded Carrier a $25,000 grant last year — and that the inspiration for his business came from his 14-year-old chocolate Lab, Maggie, who has a penchant for wandering away from home.

What you may not know is that Carrier plans to introduce an innovative new feature called "V-Leash" within the next week or two. The "V," which stands for "virtual," will allow each tag to be synced with a corresponding page on the company's Web site — enabling owners to speak for their pets through pictures and words. "The idea is to facilitate the return of a lost pet by making a connection to a real family. Our pets can't talk … at least until now," notes Carrier.

GPI names longtime employee new managing director

Asheville's historic Grove Park Inn has named Ron Morin its new vice president and managing director last week. He'll be responsible for both day-to-day operations and overseeing the 512-room resort and spa's nearly 1,000 employees.

Morin started with the company more than 25 years ago as a line employee working food and beverage. "I know of no other industry where someone can start in an entry-level position and rise to the top of the organization," says Grove Park President and CEO Craig Madison. "This is a well-deserved promotion."

A graduate of Leadership Asheville 23, Morin lives in Flat Creek.

Small business of the month

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce named Bruisin' Ales in downtown Asheville its Small Business of the Month for April. Beermeisters Jason and Julie Atallah opened Asheville's first retail beer store late in 2006, specializing in craft brews, microbrews and eclectic international offerings. Bruisin' Ales recently made Imbibe magazine's "Top 10 U.S. Bottle Shops" list; the business has also been featured in BeerAdvocate magazine, the Ale Street News and the Southern Brew News. I'm getting thirsty just writing this…

Small Business Center announces Jump Start Day

A-B Tech's Small Business Center will hold its annual Jump Start Day Thursday, April 22 from 4 to 6:30 p.m. in the Haynes Conference Center on the Enka campus.

The free event gives current and potential business owners a chance to learn more about the many resources available to small business in the community.
For more information, contact Christy Ramm at or 254-1921, ext. 5857.

McDowell County graduates 20 entrepreneurs

Rural Entrepreneurship Through Action Learning, a joint program of McDowell Tech's Small Business Center and the Marion Business Association, recently graduated 20 participants: Dee Boyce, Alyson Morgan, Devon Wyatt, Denise Gaddy, Geneva Hollifield, Lisa Hicks, Randy Hollifield, Phyllis Lowe, Bobbie Holley, Jonathan Sowers, Ean Beatty, David Boyce, David Fender, David Troutman, Kyle Bailey, Jake Truesdale, Glenn Bradley, Robbie Young, Rob Watson and Helen Harris.

To learn more about the program, contact the Small Business Center at 652-0633 or go to The classes are free.

Gov. Perdue to visit Asheville

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue will hold a news conference in Asheville Friday, April 9, to announce a set of new small-business initiatives. The governor also plans to tour businesses in and around the Wall Street shopping district.

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