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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Public Policy Update: NCGA Special Session

The Asheville Area Chamber represents the voice of Western North Carolina business. The Chamber was on the ground monitoring legislation in Raleigh last week for the North Carolina General Assembly’s special session.

The special session convened Monday, September 12, 2011 and lasted three days. The three days of session saw Republicans passing a constitutional amendment to prohibit the recognition of same sex marriage in North Carolina. The legislation was hotly debated and passed the House first before being approved in the Senate.

Due to the legislation involving a change in the North Carolina Constitution, this legislation does not require the approval of the governor and will appear before the people of the state for approval in May's primary election.

Republican members also worked to pass a term limit on General Assembly leadership. However, agreement could not be achieved on the length of the limit between the House and Senate. Thus, the legislation is expected to be taken up when the NCGA returns for another special session November 7, 2011.

The Asheville Chamber will continue to keep you informed of the legislation that can affect you and your business. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Chamber’s Manager of Public Policy Jeff Joyce with any questions or concerns at

Monday, September 19, 2011

North Carolina Ranks 2nd Most Favorable Business Climate in the Nation

According to the "Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing" survey of U.S. corporate executives conducted by the Development Counsellors International, North Carolina ranks second in the nation for a favorable business climate. Perceptions about a location’s business climate can play a critical role in investment and job creation.

Read on for a press release with details on the survey....

Corporate execs see Texas, NC, SC as best for business
Tech Journal South
September 19, 2011

Texas, North Carolina and South Carolina are viewed as having the best business climates among the 50 states, according to a new survey of U.S. corporate executives.

The poll pinpointed California, New York and Illinois as the U.S. states with the least favorable business climates.

Conducted by Development Counsellors International (DCI) every three years, the “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” survey has tracked trends in economic development since its inception in 1996.

“With the battle for business more intense than ever, states and their economic development organizations need to pay close attention to the results of this survey,” said DCI President Andrew T. Levine. “Whether accurate or misguided, perceptions about a location’s business climate often play a crucial role in site selection decisions and where companies invest money and create jobs.”

Half the firms to make relocation decisions

Nearly half (46%) of the 322 corporate executive who responded to the survey indicated that their firm would make a location decision in the next 24 months – whether a move, expansion or consolidation of a manufacturing plant, offices, distribution center or other facilities. More than half (51%) said that they would outsource a portion of the site selection process to a real estate broker or site selection consultant.

Texas was the clear-cut favorite among the respondents to the survey, with 49.4% naming the Lone Star state as having one of the most favorable business climates in the nation. North Carolina ranked second with 27.8%; South Carolina has 14.3% of the votes.

Texas and North Carolina have consistently landed in the top spots since the survey began more than a decade ago.Texas has held the #1 ranking since 1999, while North Carolina has been #2 since 2002. South Carolina, Tennessee andFlorida have frequently traded top positions in the survey and 2011 marks the return of South Carolina to the #3 slot.

Low operating costs a top concern

When asked why they selected the states they did as being best for business, the corporate executives frequently cited low operating costs and a pro-business climate. In the 2008 survey, more executives pointed to the availability of a strong workforce than they did in 2011.

For the fourth consecutive time, California was deemed as having the least favorable business climate, with 70.5% of the responses. New York was named second most frequently with 46.5%, followed by Illinois (24.4%) Taxes, high costs and “anti-business climate/regulation” spurred most of the negative opinions.

The comprehensive survey also asked a series of questions to divine the most effective economic development marketing tools, the leading sources of information that influence executive perceptions of a community’s business climate and the most important factors in business location decisions.

DCI conducted the survey online, polling a random selection of C-level executives at U.S. companies with annual revenues of$25 million or more. The survey was augmented by 250 location advisors/consultants.

For a free copy of the full “Winning Strategies” survey report or an executive summary, see:<>.