1/8/2013 - Asheville touted as innovation ecosystem
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times
Asheville City Hall and full moon. / Steve Dixon/Steve Dixon/sdixon@citizen-times
Can other cities learn a lesson from Asheville's new emphasis on business innovators and start-up risk-takers?
The National League of Cities is blogging today about Asheville as a case study for best practices in promoting entrepreneurship.
Asheville economic developers were invited to present at a panel discussion along with Boston and Beaverton, Ore., a Portland suburb, at the annual Congress of Cities held in Boston in late November.
Ben Teague, executive director of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County, and Pam Lewis, the coalition's director of entrepreneurship, outlined what Asheville is doing differently to create "an entrepreneurial eco-system."
"A lot of cities were impressed with our going to South-by-Southwest as a creative way to do marketing," said Lewis, who led a local delegation to the annual innovation conference in Austin, Texas, touting Asheville as an up-and-coming place to do business.
The case study outlined Asheville's new emphasis on entrepreneurship in the past year.
"We pick cities and regions that are developing innovative models to strengthen their local economies," explained author Katie McConnell, a senior associate with the league's Center for Research and Innovation.
So far this year, the league has focused on economic development in case studies on just four cities: Asheville, along with Toledo, Baltimore and Longmont, Colo.
The report focused on Asheville's identity as a foodie destination and the booming micobrewery business. Also noted was the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce's intentional focus on connecting innovators and the plans for a new Technology Accelerator this summer in downtown Asheville.
"I think what's particularly striking about the Asheville region is the number of partnerships and stakeholders that come together to make a more friendly environment for entrepreneurs," McConnell said.
The report notes a slew of activities geared toward entrepreneurs, including Ignite Asheville and Startup Weekend Asheville.
Read the National League of Cities blog here: http://citiesspeak.org/2013/01/04/asheville-nc-focusing-on-its-strengths/