Franzi Charen, founder of Asheville Grown Business Alliance, reflects on the ways Asheville showed its support of local businesses in 2019.
- This year the organization I run, the Asheville Grown Business Alliance, increased our membership by 20%, cresting well over 500 businesses strong. Our Go Local Campaign sold 3,600 Go Local Cards, a record number, indicating a tremendous amount of community support for local businesses and raising over $30,000 for our public schools.
- The city of Asheville’s Office of Equity and Inclusion launched the Mountain Community Capital Fund, a new loan guarantee fund for small businesses and local entrepreneurs, with Self-Help Credit Union, Buncombe County and others. This fund is an amazing tool that can open the door to lending, especially for traditionally disadvantaged communities.
- Go Local members, Mountain BizWorks and Breedlove and Co. piloted Mountain Raise, shepherding entrepreneurship graduates through a direct public offering process that allows our community to invest in shares of local companies.
- CoThinkk graduated 15 African American and Latinx leaders from its Blueprint Leadership series and increased resource grants to seed new initiatives by 50%.
- Other events, including the Outdoor Economy Conference, Craft Your Commerce and the upcoming AgriBusiness Summit, leave me excited to see what 2020 has in store for our locals and our locally owned business community.