Thursday, January 29, 2009

Closet Tailors is the Small Business of the Month

The Small Business of the Month for the month of February is Closet Tailors of Asheville located on Stratford Road in Asheville. Closet Tailors opened for business in 2007 and has grown to four full-time employees.

Closet Tailors provides custom design and installation services for both residential and commercial clients. Closets, garages, basements, laundry rooms, pantries, and offices are some of the spaces where a custom storage solution can be applied. In the commercial arena Closet Tailors provides custom casework for any area that requires the efficient use of workspace.

The company supports a number of community organizations including Rotary, the School Board, and the Chamber of Commerce through the Chamber Ambassador Program.

Cut Cost Without Cutting Your Lifeline

Here is an introduction from Tech Journal South's Seven Ways to Cut Costs Without Cutting Your Lifeline. Although the article was written with Tech companies in mind the principles could certainly be applied to almost any company.

Seven Ways to Cut Cost Without Cutting Your Lifeline
January 29, 2009

By Lorraine Haataia, Ph.D.

When the global economy is in a recession, all companies – from Fortune 500s to small, family-owned businesses – suffer. And some of the weakest ones become casualties, leaving their employees without jobs, and losing customers to their competitors.

During these tough times, owners, executives and managers often make decisions about jobs, resources and facilities they think they can do without, and then they cut.

But this isn’t necessarily the best answer. The truth is, excess waste accumulates in all of these areas during prosperous times. When managers don’t have to worry about the pennies, the company can quickly begin to leak dollars. And it can easily go unnoticed for months and even years.

Read the full article at:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meet Jonas Gerard!

Meet Chamber member abstract artist Jonas Gerard! Visit him in his studio on Clingman down in the River Arts District.

Jonas has a wonderful piece in the visitor center here at the Chamber here is a photo of it:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Grove Arcade becomes the Groove Arcade with First Fridays!

One of the classic spots of Asheville is about to get a little bit more fun on Friday nights! Check out what the Grove Arcade has in store:

Groove Arcade Launches First Friday Series:
Combat the Winter Blues with Motown Music, Great Food and Drinks

The Merchants Association of downtown Asheville’s historic Grove Arcade, a.k.a. the Groove Arcade, will kick off a new evening event – First Friday – featuring music, food and drinks that will transport you to Coney Island and take you back in time. First Friday will debut on Friday, February 6, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. with additional events taking place on March 6 and April 3.

In February, First Friday will feature Motown music from Steve Davidowski & Friends, wine and beer from Santé, cherry cokes and root beer floats from Red Bike, chili dogs from Cats and Dawgs, frozen treats from Kamm’s Custard, Coney Island Iced Teas from Carmel’s, pizza from True Confections and much more. It’s going to be a real party. So grab your friends and head downtown to boogie the winter blues away!

The First Friday events are being organized by the merchants and management of the Grove Arcade but have attracted interest and involvement across downtown. “As small, independent merchants, this sort of event presents logistical problems including having enough people to actually make sure the evenings come off,” explains Donna Wright of Jazzy Giraffe. “We sent out an email to downtown residents asking for volunteers and have been astounded at the response. It makes our downtown a great place to do business.”

The Grove Arcade is located at One Page Avenue at the heart of the Battery Hill neighborhood in downtown Asheville and offers unique shopping and exciting dining in one of Asheville’s architectural jewels. Parking is available a short walk away in the Wall Street, Rankin and Civic Center garages as well as on the street. Directions to the garages and the Grove Arcade can be accessed For additional information, call 828.252.7799.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Touring the new downtown venue, The Venue

We had the opportunity to walk through a new downtown event facility, The Venue. The Venue is located on Market Street across the street from Vincenzo's. The Venue will be downtown's largest event center, at least that I can think of! It will ultimately have three separate (but can be joined) rooms, available for functions, the facility can host 800 people. The upstairs has one of the best balconies in town, downstairs has a great original art deco tile flooring and the middle level feature huge windows looking North towards Mellow Mushroom.

Check out the artist renderings at

Here are some photos from todays walk through:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Girl Scout Cookies are here!

How can you say no to Girl Scout Cookies? A few weeks ago one of my fellow Chamber staff member's daughter made the rounds. Even though I had already bought way too many boxes from my niece, I couldn't find it in me to say no.

Here come the cookies!

Here is an press release excerpt from the Girl Scouts of Western North Carolina Pisgah Council:
“When you buy a box of Girl Scout Cookies, you know you are getting a great tasting product and you are supporting the premier leadership program for girls,” Molly Keeney, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Western North Carolina Pisgah Council said. “Like all Girl Scout programs, cookie sale activities are girl-driven. Girls make their own decisions and run the sale with the help of adult volunteers. Cookies are one of the reasons why Girl Scouting is so successful at building leadership.”

Girl Scout Cookies are sold door to door in western North Carolina from Friday, Jan. 2 through Saturday, Feb. 14. Through the spring, Girl Scout troops will be selling cookies at booths set up in areas such as department stores and shopping centers. If you wish to purchase cookies and have not been called on by Feb. 1, look for cookie booths in your community (posted on the council’s Web site at or call Girl Scouts of Western North Carolina Pisgah Council toll-free at 800-522-6280 to be connected with a local troop.

Girl Scout Cookies have long been a major fund-raiser for girls and their troops across the region, and is an integral part of Girl Scouting’s business and economic literacy initiative for girls ages 5-17. The program provides finance, marketing and public speaking skills as well as valuable experiences that develop girls’ personal leadership style.

Through the Girl Scout Cookie Sale Program, girls manage inventory, set goals, learn money management and develop marketing skills. For more information on Girl Scout Cookies, visit our website at or call us Tamara Blankenship at 800-522-6280.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Destination Center Lands Gold LEED Certification

The Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center has earned the gold LEED certification. The Destination Center on the parkway is a great interactive center located near the Parkway Headquarters in East Asheville. If you haven't been it is well worth the visit.

Here is an excerpt from the article on
The Destination Center for the Blue Ridge Parkway has attained LEED Gold status in a rating that acknowledges the building's design exceeds the standard for high energy efficiency.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2010, stretches for 469 miles between the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The Parkway Destination Center is in Asheville, N.C.

In certifying the Destination Center's compliance with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards at Gold level, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded the maximum 10 points for energy efficiency.

The USGBC also awarded an additional point for besting the 60 percent standard for energy savings: The project tracked a 75 percent improvement when compared with performance for a comparable conventional building, according to Lord, Aeck & Sargent, the architecture firm that designed the center.

The center, completed in January 2008, includes a 10,000-square-foot green roof that was seeded with drought-tolerant native plants, hydronic radiant-heated flooring, a high-efficiency HVAC system with an energy recovery unit and daylight harvesting with a lighting system that is expected to reduce lighting loads by 78 percent.

Among the more visually striking features are the 13 passive solar Trombe walls that stand in a sawtooth formation on the south facade.

Read the full story at:

A Visit to the Cove

Earlier this week the Billy Graham Training Center - The Cove invited the Chamber staff and our excellent front desk volunteers out for a visit and tour. For most of the group it was our first visit to the Cove and we were very impressed, maybe it was the delicious apple crisp they served!

The Cove campus is over 1,200 acres, with two inns, a training center, chapel, visitor center, and many hiking trails. The facilities were beautifully done, with large decks overlooking the valley, perfect for a rocking chair, just not in January. The staff was extremely generous and hospitable folks, many of which are volunteers.

The Cove has a visitor center in its chapel which is open to the public except when it is in use for programs. It is well worth the trip.

The Training Center at the Cove has a large auditorium for classes and lectures. Also included in the building a large dining room (below) and classrooms for smaller programs.

Billy Graham's grandson, Will Graham, who is the Assistant Director at the Cove welcomed the group and shared the story of how his grandfather founded the center.

Check out the promotional video:

Friday, January 9, 2009

Take the Tour: Secret Garden Inn & Spa

Secret Garden Inn & Spa has been running the Mac into overtime making videos lately. They have a channel on You Tube at Take the virtual tour below:

Sunday's are back @ Clingman Cafe

Clingman Cafe is bringing back Sunday service starting this weekend! They will be open for our delight from 9 - 2:30 each Sunday.

Check them out this Sunday or online at

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Networking Tips

Thinking about improving your networking skills? Here are ten tips from for successful networking:

  1. Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.
  2. Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.
  3. Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.
  4. Hold volunteer positions in organizations. This is a great way to stay visible and give back to groups that have helped you.
  5. Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no. This form of questioning opens up the discussion and shows listeners that you are interested in them.
  6. Become known as a powerful resource for others. When you are known as a strong resource, people remember to turn to you for suggestions, ideas, names of other people, etc. This keeps you visible to them.
  7. Have a clear understanding of what you do and why, for whom, and what makes your doing it special or different from others doing the same thing. In order to get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily articulate to others.
  8. Be able to articulate what you are looking for and how others may help you. Too often people in conversations ask, "How may I help you?" and no immediate answer comes to mind.
  9. Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals you are given. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.
  10. Call those you meet who may benefit from what you do and vice versa. Express that you enjoyed meeting them, and ask if you could get together and share ideas.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hotel Indigo - ten stories tall and climbing

According to an email from Hospitality Lodging Investors the Hotel Indigo and the Residences at 151 construction is moving along. Ten stories of steel have been raised and floors have been poured on the first seven floors. They have a photo gallery of the construction at:

The artist rendering of the final product:

One of the floors on January 5, 2009:

The steel structure on January 5, 2009:

Stellar Media Plans Growth in 2009

When was the last time you heard of a company positioning themselves to expand in 2009? In the midst of all the negative media coverage of the economy here is an uplifting story. Chamber member Stellar Media is planning some growth in 2009, here are some excerpts from their latest newsletter about the expansion:

About the expansion of Stellar Media into the N.C. Triad Area:
Last year was tough on companies; this year may be even tougher. More than ever, businesses need powerful media marketing tools (like websites, videos, and Flash animations) to maximize their revenue. To better meet those needs, Stellar Media is expanding its geographic market to include the N.C. Triad Area (Winston-Salem/Greensboro/High Point)! Yes, we'll continue to serve clients in Western North Carolina - all over the country, for that matter. But we also need to expand the area we're able to meet with clients face-to-face.

Wedding Bell Videos expansion as well:
Know someone who became engaged over the holidays? Our sister company, Wedding Bell Videos, has been recording weddings as family keepsakes for four years - nearly 200 weddings to date! In 2009, we'll be serving couples in the Triad Area - and also the Triangle Area, through a licensing agreement we've struck with Wil Weldon of Growler Productions in Durham. Wil has the integrity and skills to represent the Wedding Bell brand very well.

Stellar Media has done some great work for the Chamber! Check out the latest project that we worked with them on, a short video promoting opportunities to promote businesses in our visitor center.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

YWCA Video

Found this video on the YWCA blog. YWCA is one of the Chambers many non-profit members who do incredible work for our community. Check them out at!

Monday, January 5, 2009

College Street Parking Deck now open!

Parking in downtown Asheville just got a little easier thanks to a new parking deck openned by Buncombe County on College Street. The parking deck is great for going to the Health Center, Courthouse, or City Hall. Here is the information from the Buncombe County Website:

The College Street Parking Deck will open for business starting January 5, 2009. This new deck provides parking for visitors to the Courthouse and other businesses and offices on the Charlotte Street, mid-town region of the downtown area. The 650 space deck is located between the Bank of America and the County Health Center off of College Street. The deck will be used by County employees and the public. The entrance for public parking is off College Street just past the Bank of America.

Hourly rates are $1.00 per hour, with an $8.00 maximum charge per day.

Monthly parking is not available at this time but will be very soon. The rates for monthly parking will be $100.00 per month per space for weekday parking between 6 am and 6 pm or $125.00 per month per space for 24 hour parking. When this comes available, anyone interested can go online at or call 828-250-4248 for more information.

Phyllis Fiscus Retires After 11 Years of Service

The new year is already bringing changes to us at the Chamber. One of the Chamber's most tenured employees retired on January 1, 2009. Phyllis will most certainly be missed. Phyllis is very excited about traveling the world in her retirement and spending time with her family.

Below is an email from Kelly Miller announcing her retirement to the staff:

With tears of both joy and sadness that I announce that Phyllis Fiscus has decided to open the next chapter of her life and will officially retire (from the AACC, but not life!) effective December 31, 2008. She has been a truly outstanding member of the Chamber's team since 1997, moving steadily up the management ranks to her current position as Director of Visitor Services.

She is a major reason why Asheville has the reputation it does today…warm, natural, vibrant. Her staff work tirelessly for her and clearly see her vision. Her tireless dedication to delivering on the brand promise is not just a posted slogan, but a genuine belief, a passion that often sustained us during challenging times. Her dedication to designing and running the BEST visitor center in the country makes great copy in the book of legends.

Simply stated in one word, Phyllis is class…and she will missed, but never forgotten, as she has confided that one never really leaves their second family, the AACC team. I speak for all of us when I say, "Watch out, world. Here comes Phyllis!" Thank you, Phyllis, for a job well done.

The best news from this situation is that Tom Roberson has been promoted to fill the Director of Visitor Services role. Tom has been with the Chamber for almost two years now. Tom was hired as the director of the Chamber Visitor Center and we have no doubt he will excel in his new role! Congratulations Tom!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Highland Brewing introduces the organic Black Mountain Bitter

Our good friends at Highland have another treat for the Asheville community! They are releasing another seasonal ale. Great to see the organic certification, they have been working on that for some time now. With some more competition coming to town glad to see they are setting themselves apart!

Here is the press release from Highland:

Black Mountain Bitter, an organic pale ale, will be introduced on January 12 by Highland Brewing Company. Highland recently became only the second North Carolina brewery to achieve full organic certification. This beer will be the first beer it has marketed as “organic” and the first in the bitter pale ale style. It will be made available in all of Highland’s sales area including North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, and packaged in both draught and six pack bottles. It will be sold to restaurants, grocery stores, and craft specialty shops.

Oscar Wong, President and founder said that Highland’s organic certification was simplified by already having in place most of the rigorous processes required for organic certification compliance. The certification inspection and process audit was conducted by Clemson University.

Highland describes Black Mountain Bitter as “a classic English Bitter meticulously hand crafted with a unique Highland twist. Brewed with 100% organic grains, using English Golding hops for bittering and dry hopped with British Challenger for aromatics, it finishes fresh and clean.”

The beers namesake is Black Mountain, a notable mountain peak in North Carolina with an elevation of 4,286 feet. It is Highland’s fifth seasonal beer, following Shining Rock Lager, Cattail Peak Wheat, Clawhammer Oktoberfest, and Cold Mountain Winter Ale.

Highland Brewing Company was founded in 1994 and is North Carolina’s largest microbrewery with an annual production of 14,500 barrels. Its beers are distributed in North and South Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, Georgia and Central Florida.

Johnson, Price & Sprinkle has a new face!

They have undergone a remodeling project that is top-notch. Check out the pics of the project, to be completely finished very soon. Check out the improvements:

3rd Annual Homecoming Job Fair a Success!

The 3rd Annual Homecoming Job Fair was held last Tuesday showcasing regional employment opportunities in 56 advanced manufacturing, health services, hospitality, professional services and growth industry companies. Nearly 2000 job seekers attended the fair, mostly locals, but also many from other regions in TN, SC, MN, FL, GA, AL, NY, and other larger cities in NC who are looking for an opportunity to return home or relocate to Western North Carolina.

“This is the first year Precision Products has participated in the job fair. We passed out 185 applications and have already had over 100 turned back in. We were thrilled with the turnout and feel we reached more qualified applicants in one day than we have in one year of advertising,” stated Julie Herren, Vice President of Precision Products of Asheville, Inc.

We ask that employers and job seekers please keep us updated on the number of job connections that are made at this year’s event. The date for the Homecoming 2009 Job Fair will be announced soon.

See the story from Asheville Citizen-Times

See the coverage from WLOS