Our 2021-22 Accomplishments

June 15, 2022

As we close out the fiscal year, we want to thank all of our members and partners. Your support and engagement throughout the year has enabled us to accomplish more: to create more opportunities through economic development, to have more impact on policy; to provide more value for our members.

Events & Education

Fostered business connections.

  • Facilitated more than 13,000 connections through Chamber networking events, including Business After Hours, Business Before Hours and Mega Networking.
  • Launched Manufacturing Mornings, a new event series highlighting local manufacturers and the contributions of manufacturing to the local economy.
  • Led six Professional Networking Groups that meet weekly to foster business connections, meet industry-specific needs and share leads with one another.
  • Cultivated 20 Chamber Advocates who champion Chamber initiatives with hands-on volunteering and who connect with members to increase engagement/retention as they approach their membership anniversary.

Informed and inspired members through professional development and communications.

  • Delivered 10 Smart Series educational opportunities providing organizations with insights on topics chosen by membership interest.
  • Offered inspiration to more than 1,000 women in business through four WomanUP events, including Celebration & Awards Ceremony with keynote by creativity expert Amy Climer, two virtual workshops with local DEI practitioners and panel featuring local women leaders.
  • Saluted small businesses during Small Business Week: 74 small businesses visited by Surprise Patrol; educational and social events.
  • Celebrated workplace wellness through the Chamber Challenge 5k with registrations continuing to rebound since the pandemic (750 this year).
  • Leveraged social media presence with focus on spotlighting member businesses and providing relevant business news and resources, increasing followers and engagement.
  • Published weekly e-newsletter to 7,400+ subscribers. Shared updates on Chamber events and programs, local business news and legislative information as well as highlighting member updates and community events.

Cultivated young professionals.

  • Engaged with Young Professionals of Asheville membership in new and creative ways. Because of this, YPA saw significant growth in followers and engagement across all social media platforms, including a 35% increase in followers on Instagram.
  • Connected with a wider audience for professional development events with the addition of live streaming and video recordings of events. Programs focused on leadership, the importance of failure, becoming politically involved and developing a meaningful network.
  • Furthered community service goals through donation drives and volunteer opportunities for Young Professionals of Asheville members that revolve around cleaning and maintaining our local environment. Some partners include the Pisgah Conservancy, Asheville GreenWorks, and the Energy Savers Network.
  • Set new records with a 65 percent increase for young professionals membership.

Marketing & Sponsorship

Enabled businesses to leverage their membership to increase exposure for their business.

  • Welcomed more than 210 new members.
  • Generated over 393,000 page views on our website.
  • Provided marketing opportunities to 330+ businesses through Total Resource Campaign, engaging 15 community volunteers and securing $1,127,680 in commitments to support the Chamber’s mission.
  • Promoted 38 restaurants during Asheville Restaurant Week, including 4 new members.
  • Increased number of member organizations led by Black, Indigenous, people of color and Hispanic/Latinx individuals by 77%, including adding 22 businesses through the People’s Community and Inclusion program.

Delivered additional value to members.

  • Engaged new members in their first 90 days of membership through our Impact Team who enhance on-boarding and member benefits with our 3x3x3 program, which provides three key industry introductions, three ways to save money and personal invitations to three events.
  • Crafted 19 Asheville Spotlights, profiling member businesses on our website, newsletter and social media.
  • Generated 360,000 online impressions for Featured Members on our website.
  • Connected with more than 1,000 members, sharing goodwill and encouragement and building retention and relationships.
  • Expanded Ask-a-Professional benefit for new members to have access to free consultation with other members in key industry categories, tripling number of participating companies.

Celebrated local business accomplishments.

  • Conducted 44 ribbon cuttings to celebrate new members, grand openings and business milestones.
  • Recognized business successes with the Sky High Growth Awards; 23 businesses honored.
  • Presented leadership awards to 11 individuals and organizations who lead the business community through excellence in service, entrepreneurship, ingenuity, and willingness to support the community through contributions of expertise and time.
  • Awarded Small Business and Non-Profit of the Month to 20 member partners that exemplify generosity in giving back to the community and businesses in WNC.

Live & Visit

Showcased our community and local businesses to visitors.

  • Welcomed more than 167,000 visitors at the Asheville Visitor Center and referred them to local businesses.

Leveraged the Asheville Shop to feature local products.

  • Showcased the products and designs of 200+ local businesses in the Asheville Shop, including several People’s Community and Inclusion members and Venture Asheville Elevate companies.

Economic Development & Research

Supported a thriving economy through business recruitment and local business expansions.

  • Made significant progress (through the Chambers’ Community Betterment Foundation) on construction of the new bridge accessing the future Pratt & Whitney with generous funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation and Biltmore Farms LLC.
  • Supported local industry expansions and company relocations furthering the AVL 5×5 strategic goals of job creation and diversifying the economy:
    • East Fork Pottery to invest $2.4 million in current facilities, creating 50 new jobs.
    • Industry Nine to invest $6 million in new and expanded operations, creating 50 new jobs.
    • Legally Addictive Foods announced relocation plans for commercial bakery, investing $1.5 million and creating 10 new jobs in Buncombe County.
  • Identified 53 project leads representing $921 Million in potential capital investment and over 19,020 potential new jobs for the community.
  • Convened executive meetings and community site visits generating over 173 new project contacts and 142 executive meetings in local industry.

Nurtured high-growth entrepreneurs through Venture Asheville.

  • Grew the Elevate Mentorship Program serving 20 new start-ups, representing historical impacts of 296 new jobs and $85.3million in new company revenues.
  • Recognized the 15 Fastest Growing Start-ups with The Venture 15 and Venture Asheville Honors representing $68 million in local revenue and employing nearly 367 people.
  • Assembled the Asheville Angels, who invested $210,000 in early stage tech companies in FY2022.
  • Nurtured Venture Asheville Elevate companies, who raised a record-setting $12.1 million in FY2022, with historical totals surpassing $30 million this year.
  • Received Gold Award for Innovative Programs and Initiatives from IEDC for Venture Asheville and the Venture 15.
  • Venture Asheville Director Jeff Kaplan was invited to deliver a TEDTalk on Building Better Entrepreneurs.

Capitalized on research expertise to provide insights and support data-driven decision-making.

  • Featured renowned economic futurist Andrew Busch at 22nd Annual Metro Economy Outlook and hosted Dr. Chris Laney with EMSI Burning Glass at the Annual Growth Breakfast who presented “The Demographic Drought.”
  • Completed regional economic impact analysis for the WNC Outdoor Economy Asset Inventory and Gap Analysis with $116,000 in EDA funding.
  • Executed 300+ research requests and delivered impactful regional projects for Johnson Price Sprinkle, PA (now DMJPS) and the WNC 2021 Creative Economy Snapshot in partnership with the Asheville Area Arts Council.
  • Completed Breweries Industry Contribution Analysis reporting, an estimated $935 Million regional impact in 2019 with sponsorship of the Brewers Collective.

Fostered workforce development.

  • Launched the biennial State of the Workforce Study: WNC in partnership with 10 neighboring counties and over 700 regional employers.
  • Hosted 20+ area college students in the NEXT AVL mentorship program, connecting local college students from diverse backgrounds with area employers for nine-month mentorship. To-date the program has served over 75 regional college students.
  • Presented the twice-annual WNC Career Expo in person, following two years of virtual events, supporting over 135 employers, attracting hundreds of job seekers over the course of the year.
  • Grew the Inclusive Hiring Partners initiative to include over 30 Employer Partners and over a dozen partner agencies and service providers. The Golden Leaf funded initiative to bridge the opportunity gap in Buncombe County has reached 129 job seekers, with 20 placements in the past year.
  • Held four community outreach events, in partnership with local faith-based and housing communities, to recruit job seekers from disconnected communities.

Advocacy & Policy

Fostered business connections with elected officials and advocated for business-friendly legislation.

  • Facilitated connections between regional elected officials and the business community with Elected Officials Reception and Legislative Updates to kick off and recap the NC General Assembly sessions, discussing priorities, highlights and policy wins.
  • Strengthened relationships between government and business and amplified the voice of business by engaging member businesses in advocacy initiatives, including one-on-one conversations with elected officials and action alerts.
  • Created voting resources for primary elections including interview series with City Council, District Attorney and Mayor candidates.

Kept members informed on policy issues.

  • Held four Policy on Tap events, featuring insights on the brewing and outdoor industries, affordable housing and development in the River Arts District.
  • Conducted virtual town halls to keep businesses informed on issues related to COVID-19 pandemic that affect their workforce and business practices.
  • Coordinated conversations between the business community and local government on addressing community safety.
  • Monitored state, local and federal legislative action and reported to membership through weekly policy newsletter, general newsletter and meetings.

Collaborated with business and community leaders.

  • Explored best practices for key issues such as workforce development and public-private partnerships on the Intercity Visit to Chattanooga, TN with 38 business and community leaders.
  • Collaborated with regional business leaders and Land of Sky regional council to cross walk strategic plans and develop points of joint policy advocacy.