Where We’re Going

The Plan

The City of Asheville’s approach starts by recognizing that the disparities we see today result from overtly racist and sexist policies in the past. These past policies combined with present-day policies and procedures actively perpetuate disparities, even though today’s policies are not overtly racist or sexist. Addressing the combined impact of these factors requires both internal and external work and, importantly, will take sustained effort over time.

The 2019-2020 fiscal year was the first year of operation of the newly renamed and reorganized Asheville Business Inclusion Office following the disparity study of 2018. The Office started following this plan starting July 1, 2019. Highlights of the plan include:

  • Development of a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification and an associated Shelter Market program.  Modeled after a Charlotte program, this allows the City to make some opportunities available only to certified businesses, giving smaller developing businesses a chance to build capacity and establish themselves.
  • Make the Business Inclusion Program race- and gender-conscious. This more targeted approach can help us better address existing disparities and break down some of the barriers that these business owners face.
  • Create additional targeted training opportunities that complement existing programs. A targeted approach can provide training that directly addresses the challenges faced by African-American business owners.
  • Implement a direct loan program for SBE certified businesses. People of color and women face higher-than-average barriers in gaining access to capital. This program will use awarded City contracts as collateral to ease access to capital and speed processing of the loans.
  • Implement internal technology and process changes. While not part of the formal plan, significant changes are needed to change systems and processes that perpetuate racial and gender disparities, as well as to support data collection and reporting.