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Features Entrepreneurial council offering ‘Venture Local’ forum

Consumers make buying choices every day. These decisions are the driving force in the success or failure of a business. Increasingly, these actions are based on personal connections and a company’s ability to have a positive impact on society.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council, an initiative of AdvantageWest, hosts Venture Local, a forum designed to help business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs and potential investors understand the growing “local” movement in the United States and Western North Carolina and find ways to take advantage of the phenomenon.

“From food to fiber and energy to technology, Western North Carolina has already experienced some great successes in local and sustainable industries,” said Matt Raker, vice president of entrepreneurship and AdvantageWest’s greencollar initiative, AdvantageGreen. “Venture Local will showcase some of these successes, highlight industry needs, and cross-pollinate businesses from across different sectors to identify new collaborative opportunities.”

The event, to be held at the Asheville Renaissance Hotel, will feature a 1-5 p.m. program followed by a farm-to-table networking reception from 5-6 p.m. The first half of the Venture Local program will focus on opportunities for sustainable entrepreneurship; the second half will present creative ways to finance those opportunities.

A case study will be presented on Carolina Ground, an Asheville-based organization that seeks to link local grain producers, a grain mill and bakeries. The goal is to help bakers get closer to the source of production and away from the volatility of the grain market. The organization is using alternative financing methods to finance construction of the mill.

“Because of efforts like Carolina Ground, a whole new economy is taking shape in the United States, and Western North Carolina is leading the charge,” said Raker. “Consumers and business owners want to purchase items that are produced locally and farmers, craft makers and designers are trying to fill that niche.”

The list of speakers for a discussion on market opportunities are: Dr. Frank King (a bison farmer), Brian Boggs (a furniture maker), Woodrow Eaton (renewable energy), Daniel Sanders (clothing manufacturer) and David McConville (media designer and technologist).

A representative from the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE), one of the fastest growing networks of social responsible business, will then speak on building and promoting the local ecosystem.

The conference also explores how to finance a company in the emerging market. Some companies now only fund organizations that create a positive social impact. The organizations represented on the panel discussion include: Social Capital, Slow Money, Mountain BizWorks and Self-Help Credit Union. IndieGoGo, an innovative “crowdfunding” platform, will also present on how to use social media and new technology to raise capital.

Registration is $20, which includes the afternoon program as well as the farm-to-table networking reception. For more information on the event, including speaker bios and registration, visit www.venturelocalwnc.com.


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