City of Asheville’s Business Inclusion Office launches AVL Pathways to Grow training program

Business Team


The City of Asheville’s Business Inclusion Office is excited to announce a new training program for local small businesses, AVL Pathways to Grow. The training program is geared towards helping women and small business owners of color to grow and scale up their businesses.


AVL Pathways to Grow is a collaboration between the City’s Business Inclusion Office and the national nonprofit Interise. Interise has successfully implemented this highly data-driven training program in 80 cities across the U.S. with impressive results. On average, business owners who complete the program grow their revenues by 36%, create new jobs at four times the regular rate of the private sector, and obtain $2.4 million in new contracts.


“The City of Asheville is excited to enter this partnership with Interise,” said Mayor Esther Manheimer. “One of the City Council’s priorities is a thriving local economy, and that cannot be achieved without building our women and BIPOC businesses. This collaboration presents us with an opportunity to help our local BIPOC businesses grow and thrive.”  


These programs are so successful because they are about connection. Participants are part of a close cohort that learns and works through problems together. Local guest experts from a variety of backgrounds will take part in teaching business owners valuable skills that are relevant to our community to help grow their business. 


“We are proud to partner with the City of Asheville and to bring the networks, knowledge, and know-how of our programming to the business community,” said Darrell Byers, CEO of Interise. “Like the rest of the country, Asheville’s small businesses have suffered during 2020, and the percentage of small businesses owned by MWBEs (minority/women-owned business enterprises) that have closed their doors has been much higher than the average. Supporting small businesses for local job and wealth creation — that is our nation’s best MWBEs recovery strategy.”


AVL Pathways to Grow holds classes biweekly for seven months. Business owners gain tools around business operations, financial management, marketing and sales, human resources tactics, business strategy development, access to capital, and contract development.  Eligible businesses must have:

  •  At least $150,000 in annual revenues
  • One other full-time employee besides the owner(s)
  • Been in business at least 2 years
  • Willingness and ability to attend class once every two weeks for 7 months 
  • Willingness to complete mandatory assignments and program surveys as requested


The Business Inclusion Office will hold three informational sessions about this training program. Interested participants can RSVP here to the session they would like to attend.

  • Monday, September 27, 1 to 2  p.m.
  • Thursday, September 30, 9 to 10  a.m.
  • Tuesday, October 5, 6  to 7  p.m.


To learn more and apply, visit this link. Applications are due by October 15.



The City of Asheville conducted a Disparity Study in 2018 that looked at how often women and BIPOC-owned  businesses (also known as MWBEs)  were utilized in City contracts. The study showed stark disparities in how often these businesses worked on City contracts. Though the study only looked at City contracts, we understand that disparities exist for these businesses in other sectors. AVL Pathways to Grow will set BIPOC and women-owned businesses up for success and help reduce these disparities, among the many other measures the City has taken to create more equity in its contracting.