Thursday, September 22, 2011

UnSung Asheville: A Tour of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Fifty leaders in the Asheville business community joined the Asheville Chamber last week for a jam-packed two-day itinerary during a collaborative exchange event called "UnSung Asheville." The event enabled business leaders to "explore their own backyard," as Asheville Citizen-Times reporter Jason Sandford noted. At the same time, the event helped open the eyes of its participants to new ideas for furthering economic development for the Asheville area.

Read on for a synopsis of the event from Chamber President & CEO Kit Cramer.

View a slideshow of images from the event taken by Justin Bellamy of JB Media Group, LLC. All photos included in this post provided courtesy of JB Media Group, LLC.


Eight lanes of traffic take up a lot of space. I learned that in a pretty visceral way while riding in a trolley across the interstate to West Asheville. Hugh Munro, serving as our tour guide, told us where an expansion of I-240 in West Asheville would roughly begin (holding out the moment audibly)…and end. I now have a better understanding of the issue than I ever would have had by looking at any map.

And that, my friends, is the beauty of the IntraCity Visit. Fifty business and civic leaders participated and learned about aspects of the city by seeing, feeling and hearing about them. They not only got to know their own community better, they got to know one another better too.

They learned that FLS Energy has a plan for working with non-profits that doesn’t require upfront funding + on solar energy projects.

They learned that their wish for more river sports and activities was being realized through the creation of the Smokey Mountain Adventure Center.

They learned that bicycle tourism is especially profitable for the community, which led to thoughts of other types of tourist segmentation that could be targeted.

They learned that a lot of people might not be aware of the resources that exist within the community to support entrepreneurs.

And that the plans for workforce housing on Eagle Market Streets could be transformative.

And that the downtown tax base provides support for the entire community.

And that there is an extraordinary degree of collaboration occurring in the River Arts District that is having a distinct economic ripple effect.

And there is a whole cycle of agribusiness, from farming, marketing, food-product development and food composting that supports our “Foodtopia.”

And that the cultivation of the creative sector, whether through the performing arts, film or events like Hatch or TedX, helps make our economy stronger and more diverse.

They learned all these things and many others in the two days of the trip.

Perhaps participant Janice Brumit summed it up best when she told me, “I thought I knew everything about this community. I learned that I didn’t and there are lots of exciting things going on!”

-Kit Cramer
President & CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

No comments: