The Collider is an innovative organization working to devise and promote market-driven climate solutions. According to Executive Director Megan Robinson, The Collider is in Asheville because the city is home to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) — housing the world’s largest collection of weather, climate and environmental data — and because of the talent and resources available at local universities. “Our mission is to bring together the federal government, academia, businesses and nonprofits to work collaboratively on climate solutions,” she explains.
The Collider’s headquarters occupies 6,000 square feet of the half-acre Callen Center in the heart of downtown Asheville. One of the few nonprofits of its kind in the United States focusing on climate solutions, The Collider has four full-time employees, an executive board of seven, and two or three interns at any given time. It also has a coworking space, where some 60 individuals, entrepreneurs and established businesses from all over the world come together to work. “These are businesses that could be anywhere, but they wanted to be near NOAA and NCEI and the other climate-related organizations here at The Collider,” Robinson says. “That’s why we call Asheville ‘Climate City.’”
Robinson finds that people in Asheville are passionate about what they do, focused not only on their own organizations but also on how their organizations interact with other elements of the community. “Everything’s very connected.” There’s also a healthy work-life balance, facilitated in part by the tremendous variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, mountain biking and paddling.
Hallmarks of the Asheville business community are lots of locally owned businesses, strong community support for entrepreneurs, collaboration and innovative thinking, Robinson says. “People are relocating here because they are passionate about the environment.”
“It’s interesting to see the talent here. There is no shortage of environmental thought leaders.”
For people interested in nature and the environment, she says, Asheville is the place to be. The Collider frequently hosts community events in its 200-person theater, with 270-degree views of the mountains and the city, and has forged strong partnerships with a variety of local groups, such as the Asheville Museum of Science.
“I think what brings people here isn’t just the beauty, restaurants, breweries, art and music, but the lifestyle,” Robinson says. “There is a special sense of community here. People care deeply about each other, the environment and the earth.”