Business Toolkit

What’s in Asheville’s Business Tool Kit?

All Asheville area businesses – large and small – need resources to develop and grow. One priority for Asheville City Council is to ensure businesses have access to development solutions to support their success.

Resource Providers are support organizations including accelerators and incubators, economic development organizations and sector-specific business support groups. The City of Asheville partners with Asheville area organizations that maximize support for businesses.

Case Study – Building Business Tool Kits to Meet Individual District Needs

The River Arts District Transportation Improvement Project (RADTIP) is a $50M infrastructure improvement project which will bring 2.2 miles of complete streets, greenways, bike lanes, sidewalks and environmental improvements to the district. This federally funded TIGER VI project will also bring construction disruptions to the district from now until 2020. In anticipation of these disruptions, the City met with area stakeholder to develop a strategic plan for business vitality during construction. This plan resulted in a Business Tool Kit of resources including branding and marketing collateral, inter and intra district signage during construction, printed resources, capacity building projects and a $25k fund for support over the three year construction period. The City supports new growth, development and business retention efforts.


Asheville has geo-targeted business associations throughout the city. Most associations have   a City staff liaison for an additional layer of support. Additional networking meetings   include One Million Cups and various networking events hosted by the Asheville Area     Chamber of Commerce.


Business Development Resources

The Small Business Center (SBC) at A-B Tech Enka is part of the statewide Small Business Center Network (SBCN), a community college-funded initiative with a vision to foster and support entrepreneurship, small business, and economic development in local communities with an emphasis on assisting start-ups, early stage, and at-risk enterprises.

Asheville SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business, is part of a national nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education and the formation, growth and success of the nation’s small businesses.

Mountain BizWorks‘ mission is to build a vibrant and inclusive entrepreneurial community in Western North Carolina by helping small businesses start, grow, and thrive. When small businesses succeed, we all prosper.

The Mountain Area Workforce Development Board (MAWDB) is created through federal legislation and serves Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties. Over 50% of the Board’s membership is comprised of representatives from private industry. The remaining members represent Economic Development Agencies, Education, Community Based Organizations, Organized Labor and Local Government. Their budget approaches $2 million annually and they allocate those funds for skill training in the four-county area. All services provided through the NC Works Career Centers are free of charge unless otherwise noted.

Western Women’s Business Center is committed to helping start-up and existing women-owned businesses through providing technical assistance they need to succeed and achieve their business dreams. The WWBC is essential in providing financial education to women entrepreneurs.

Venture Asheville Elevate Program enables startup entrepreneurs to simultaneously navigate the practical, day-to-day challenges of building great companies and develop their skills as effective managers, leaders and CEOs. Offering mentorship modeled on the MIT Venture Mentoring Service, Elevate is a service provided by Venture Asheville as part of our strategy to systematically strengthen and support high-growth ventures in the Asheville area.


Funding Resources

Funding is available in the form of loans, grants, investment shares and development incentives. Working with one of the above business development resource providers can help you understand which options may work best for your business or development project.

Mountain Capital Loan Program is a City-backed funding program that will launch later in 2018. This development fund is part of the City’s strategic plan to provide greater access to capital to business owners who may not otherwise be eligible for bank loans.

Strategic Partnership Funds are City grants awarded annually to non-profit organizations that create opportunities for economic mobility, address disparities in low-wealth neighborhoods, such as health, housing, and educational inequities. Additionally, the City partners with organizations that provide support for small, local, homegrown and minority-owned businesses and that provide services which directly support affordable housing and increased employment opportunities, such as child care, transportation and job training.

Community Event Partnership Funds are City-funded strategic partnerships for organizations that produce events which meet key economic development indicators.

Carolina Small Business Development Fund provides small business loans and financial training to start-ups and existing businesses along with lending services to community-based organizations.

Development programs administered by the City, but with federal or outside funding are also available. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) are federal funds which support affordable housing development. Land Use Incentive Grants (LUIG) provide incentives to encourage development projects.

Case Study – Industrial Development Grant in Action

New Belgium Brewing, a beer maker and distributor, opened their East Coast operations on the Asheville riverfront with the assistance of an Industrial Development Grant, investing over $100 million in capital improvements and creating over 120 jobs within the brewing and manufacturing sector.

Development Grants including the Industrial Development Grant (IDG) is a development incentive grant which can provide incentives to organizations expanding or building capital investments of $1.5 million or more.

Business Development Grants provide between $250,000 and $1.49 million over up to three years; these grants are designed to stimulate local small business expansions.

Case Study – Industrial Development Grant in Action

White Labs, Inc., a yeast-manufacturing company, opened their East Coast headquarters in downtown Asheville with the assistance of an Industrial Development Grant, investing $8.1 million in capital improvements and creating 65 jobs within the local fermentation science and manufacturing sector.




The Small Business Administration has a wealth of funding programs based on your business type and funding needs.

Private funding, including bank loans and Venture Capital investments are other resources that may be right for your business. Talk to your bank, a service provider or organizations like Self Help Credit Union for more guidance. Organizations looking to scale with VC funds may be a good fit for local resources like Venture Asheville.

Opportunity Zones

Opportunity Zones were created as part of the 2017 federal tax reform package (Tax Cuts & Jobs Act). This adjustment to the tax code was designed to drive long-term capital into low-income communities by using tax incentives to encourage private investment. These impact funds are designed to help revitalize qualifying lower income census tracts that have not benefited equitably in the economic recovery. The City of Asheville worked closely with the N.C. Department of Commerce to receive 5 census tract designations certified by the Secretary of the U.S. Treasury via his delegation of authority to the Internal Revenue Service:

  • Census Tracts 2, 7, 9, 14 & 20

Opportunity Zone Map

This map also layers Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs) and Difficult Development Areas (DDAs), effective January 1, 2019, that assist with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and are eligible for a 30 percent increase in its tax credit basis.

Resource Links

Enterprise Community Partners

Economic Innovation Group


North Carolina Realtors Association

Enterprise Opportunity 360 – Reports on our OZs


News: On October 23, 2018, City Council passed a resolution to “work with Opportunity Fund Investors and take a proactive approach to offer guidance in Opportunity Zone investments that promote Equitable Growth, Development without Displacement and Healthy Communities of Opportunity for all residents in and around Opportunity Zones.”

Business Inclusion Program

Through the Business Inclusion Program, the City of Asheville actively seeks to identify minority businesses and offer them an opportunity to participate as providers of goods and services to the city. The intent of the program is to widen opportunities for participation, increase competition and to ensure the proper and diligent use of public funds.

Workforce Development Partners

Asheville businesses are only as successful as the workforce who support them. The City of Asheville supports a variety of workforce development programs to build the talent needed for a thriving economy.

Through the Workforce Development Program, the City of Asheville works with a network of partners to assist Asheville residents, especially low-income workers and communities of color, to access the education and training they need to be ready for high-quality jobs.

Contact Us

Community & Economic Development Department
Asheville City Hall, Fifth Floor, 70 Court Plaza
Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
P. O. Box 7148
Asheville, NC 28802