Blog :: 04-2010

Asheville eateries considered for NC restaurant competition

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4/30/2010 - Asheville eateries considered for NC restaurant competition
by Asheville Citizen Times

RALEIGH -- Twenty restaurants have been selected to compete this summer for Best Dish in North Carolina honors through a contest sponsored by the N.C. Department or Agriculture and Consumer Services and Our State magazine. These finalists will compete in either the fine or casual dining category. Each category will be judged anonymously by a three-member panel.

Finalists in Fine Dining are:

Grove Park Inn Blue Ridge Dining Room, Asheville; Red Stag Grill, Asheville; Simplicity at the Mast Farm Inn, Banner Elk; Beaufort Grocery Co., Beaufort; Table at Crestwood, Boone; Carolina Crossroads at Carolina Inn, Chapel Hill; Il Palio at The Siena Hotel, Chapel Hill; The Gallery Restaurant at the Ballentyne Resort, Charlotte; Ashten's, Southern Pines and Deluxe in Wilmington.

Finalists in Casual Dining are:

Bistro 42, Asheboro; Earth Fare, Asheville; Giorgio Restaurant Bar and Lounge, Cary; Papa Mojo's Roadhouse, Durham; Watts Grocery, Durham; Kitchen Roselli, East Bend; Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, Greensboro; Outer Banks Brewing Station, Kill Devil Hills; Kornerstone Bistro, Wilmington and Yancey House Restaurant in Yanceyville.

"We are fortunate in North Carolina to have so many restaurants that feature locally grown products on their menus," said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. "You can taste the freshness, quality and culinary creativity for yourself by visiting these and other North Carolina restaurants that feature local products

The Best Dish in NC competition is a statewide contest to that recognizes and rewards the efforts of restaurants and chefs who use North Carolina products regularly in their menus. It also raises awareness about local foods, restaurants and chefs.

The 20 finalists were chosen based on their proposed menus and marketing plans for promoting the menu. Chefs were allowed to enter a combination of dishes (for example, an appetizer with an entrée and dessert), but each was judged as a single entry.

Competition finalists are required to feature the dish or combination of courses in their restaurant for at least a four-week period in May, June or July. During this time, the judges will visit each finalist to sample the entries and judge each restaurant on its use of North Carolina products, creativity, presentation, taste and promotion. First-, second- and third-place winners will he announced in August.

Visit www.bestdishnc.com for contest information.

 

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Getting a little help

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4/14/2010 - Getting a little help
by Jennifer Saylor

Anyone running (or thinking of running) a small business in Asheville enjoys a number of perks by virtue of just being here, from our fabled Western North Carolina quality of life to a widespread mindset that favors small and locally owned over big and boxy. Asheville's also home to an abundance of small-business advisory and support organizations above and beyond the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, the N.C. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration. Business owners/new entrepreneurs also can receive help from a host of other local advisory organizations including Mountain BizWorks, A-B Tech's Small Business Center and Business Incubator program, Asheville SCORE, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, HandMade in America, the Self-Help Credit Union, the Small Business and Technology Development Center and AdvantageWest.

For those wondering where to look for money and assistance, here's a selection of local resources, classified by the type of business:

Green biz

The Golden LEAF loan program offers financing for biotech, aerospace, manufacturing, health care, defense, agricultureand the most popular category for Asheville, green business, says Jane Hatley, commercial loan officer with the Self-Help Credit Union, whom business owners can approach about a Golden LEAF loan.

Golden LEAF loans have no minimum or maximum, but Hatley advises they are standard business loans in every way: Applicants must have a business plan, decent credit and collateral for loans larger than $25,000. The businesses must create jobs, and the loans can be requested for startup capital, equipment and "almost anything but refinancing debt."

Green-business Golden LEAF loans are also available for businesses making Earth-friendly improvements such as solar panels (Self-Help Credit Union, 34 Wall St., 253-5251, self-help.org).

Food biz

The Golden LEAF Foundation helped finance another local agency helping small businesses, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, home to just over 11,000 square feet of industrial kitchen space in which food entrepreneurs can create food products in bulk (Blue Ridge Food Ventures, 1461 Sand Hill Road in Candler, 348-0128, blueridgefoodventures.org).

Natural products biz

Herbal supplements and the like are covered locally by the BioNetwork BioBusiness Center, part of a five-year initiative to develop a supply chain for local products made from plants. According to Paul Knott, BioBusiness Center manager, by late spring or early summer the Center's new equipment should allow for the extraction, rendering and testing of plant-based supplements and products, making it sort of a Blue Ridge Food Ventures of herbs, seeds, berries and leaves (BioBusiness Center, 1463 Sand Hill Road in Candler, 254-1921 extension 5843, ncbionetwork.org).

Technology biz

The Small Business and Technology Development Center is "tapped into the state university system and all the resources that universities can offer in terms of technical development," says Pam Lewis, senior vice president of entrepreneurial development at AdvantageWest (Small Business and Technology Development Center, 68 Patton Avenue, 251-6025, sbtdc.org).

Women- and minority-owned biz

Women business owners can check out Mountain BizWorks' Women's Business Center, one of the first programs of its kind in Western North Carolina (Mountain Biz Works, 153 South Lexington Ave., 253-2834, mountainbizworks.org). Minority business owners also can look into the City of Asheville's Minority Business Program (City of Asheville Office of Economic Development, 29 Haywood St., 232-4566).

High-growth biz

AdvantageWest's Advantage Opportunity Fund targets entrepreneurs or businesses (usually with 30 to 50 employees) showing or moving to "high growth," what Lewis quantifies as a company showing swift, significant and measurable growth (AdvantageWest, 134 Wright Brothers' Way in Fletcher, 687-7234, advantagewest.com).

Miscellaneous biz

Small businesses that suffered economic damage from the Haywood County rockslide (restaurants, hotels, etc.) may be eligible for Small Business Administration loans, says Carol Hensley, assistant vice president of small business and entrepreneurship at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (City of Asheville Planning Dept., 29 Haywood St., 225-1844, sba.gov).

In other news for local business owners generally, according to Mike Arriola of the regional SBA office, loans are also available to businesses with fixed assets and the ability to create new jobs: "Our 504 loan program for fixed assetsland and building or large machineryoffers long-term, low-interest, low-down payment financing in consideration of the small-business borr ower creating or retaining one job for every $65,000 of SBA financing" (City of Asheville Planning Dept., 29 Haywood St., 225-1844, sba.gov).

You can reach Jennifer Saylor at jsaylor@mountainx.com.

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sheville in early lead for Google Fiber

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4/8/2010 - Asheville in early lead for Google Fiber
by Denise Clay

An online survey has Asheville in the early lead to be the Most Deserving City for Google Fiber. The survey is referring to Googles search for a test site for their new experimental fiber network that according to Google will offer high speed internet 100 times faster than what most people currently have.

The survey is being conducted by GoogleFiber.com. While this survey is not affiliated with Google, it is a good way for people to show their support for their city. Google received over 1,100 entries from cities wanting to be Googles test site.

Google is currently going through all of the entries and comments and are no longer taking any more. No one knows if Google is keeping an eye on this unofficial survey.

The survey on GoogleFiber.com started with 21 cities, but more have been added. It is a 30 day poll and each person is allowed one vote per day till May 6th. The votes will then be tallied and the cities with the most votes will be named Most Deserving City for Google Fiber.

After the first day of voting, Asheville has taken an early lead. The city located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina has received over a third of the 7,200 votes they were cast on the first day.

With close to 2,500 votes, Asheville is in front of Greenville, SC and Greensboro, NC that received over 1,400 and 1,200 votes respectfully on the first day of voting. Durham is fifth on the list with just over 250 votes.

Chapel Hill has been added to the list, but voters can still vote for their city. The poll offers the chance to write in your city if it does not appear on the list. So go vote for you city.

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reat Smoky Mountains National Park Recruits Volunteers to Assist with Elk Program

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4/5/2010 - Great Smoky Mountains National Park Recruits Volunteers to Assist with Elk Program
by Danny Bernstein

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Recruits Volunteers to Assist with Elk Program

Would you like to spend some time in the Cataloochee Valley, look after the elk and visitors, be mistaken for a park ranger, and wear a cool uniform?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Volunteers-in-Parks program is looking for volunteers to assist with managing people and elk in Cataloochee Valley. As an Elk Bugle Corps volunteer, youll be providing visitor information on responsible elk viewing practices and elk behavior and helping with parking and traffic management. Its a blast!

Last year, there were over 80 volunteers and I was one of them. On Tuesdays, from May to the end of October, I drove down into Cataloochee, walked and rode through the valley and talked to visitors. I had three other shift mates and it was a great deal of fun. We learned about elk from biologists and rangers and passed it on to visitors. I met folks from Eastern Europe, Sweden, Australia, and also Maggie Valley. As a group, volunteers spoke with over 85,000 visitors last summer.

Each volunteer is asked to work at least two scheduled, four hour shifts per month starting the second week in May and continuing through November. This target period is during high visitor use from late spring during the elk calving season through the end of the fall color and elk mating seasons. The programs greatest need is for volunteers to work the afternoon shifts which will run from approximately 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the summer. Although elk are not as active at this time of day, Cataloochee Valley is quite busy and the volunteers have the opportunity to spend more time with individual visitors. Visitors have questions about the park, the history, and elk. You dont have to be an expert; you just have to be willing to learn.

For persons interested, two informational meetings and new volunteer orientation sessions will be held in Cataloochee Valley at the ranger station on April 15 and 17, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. All potential volunteers will be required to attend one of the orientation sessions as well as one full day of training during the last week of April and the first week of May. Anyone who is interested in volunteering and attending one of the orientation sessions is asked to email Ranger Mark LaShell or phone (828) 269-3161 (email is preferred).

Many volunteers are returning, but theres a need to replace a number of volunteers who are moving on to other opportunities this summer. I am one of those moving on to other volunteer assignments in the Smokies - I now work at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center once a week.

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