Sparking the local economy: Jane Hatley lights a fire with new conference

QUIRKY YET QUALIFIED: “How can we all work together to make this place stronger?” asks Jane Hartley, the animated organizer behind Asheville's Bringing it Home economic conference. Armed with decades of business experience and a stack of diplomas, Hatley hopes to get others as "jazzed up" on local economies as she is, come event day. Photo by Carrie Eidson

Jane Hatley‘s downtown Asheville office is more than a venue for phone calls, emails and meetings. Her view from Self-Help Credit Union‘s seventh-floor perch overlooking Wall Street allows the financial activist to cast a watchful eye over the community she’s working to strengthen.

As Self-Help’s regional director for Western North Carolina, Hatley embodies the credit union’s dedication to empowering the underserved, and as a 13-year veteran of the organization, she understands the challenge of helping local populations build wealth despite traditional systems that are often less than inclusive.

Hatley’s formal education — including an MBA in finance and marketing from Vanderbilt University and a master’s in English from UNC Chapel Hill — has helped equip her for the challenge of articulating nuances of the local economy’s innermost cogs. Plus, her entrepreneurial background and history of service to arts-oriented groups like the Tennessee Dance Theatre and the Nature Conservancy give her an astute perspective on the delicate waltz between passion and profit.

But it’s the self-described entrepreneur-at-heart’s empathy that fuels her commitment to action and tangible results.

Hatley takes pride, for example, in Self-Help’s work in North Carolina eradicating predatory lending practices like payday loans (a project of the Center for Responsible Lending) and the fact that Self-Help has facilitated more than $54 million in loans to small and large businesses in the region since 2001.

In general, she describes her career path as “making finance connect to your heart.”

This year, Hatley’s intersecting passions, which hinge on promoting local-mindedness and “the idea that all of us together form this economy,” led her to organize the Bringing It Home economic conference.

“We don’t have to be limited to the way we see our economy,” she says. WNC can “build our local economy and make it fun.”

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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