Our 2022-23 Accomplishments

July 20, 2023

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.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s accomplishments:

Remained committed to excellence.

  • Received an unmodified opinion in annual audit of Fiscal Year 2022 financial statements.
  • Served as the fiscal agent for vital community organizations, including WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition and Folk Heritage Committee.
  • Maintained focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Provided community leadership (both as an organization and as individuals) through representation on Buncombe Partnership for Children Board, Buncombe County Early Childhood Committee, Buncombe County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, Family Forward Early Childhood Committee, United Way Board and committees, YWCA Board, Thrive Asheville’s Ideas to Action Leadership Forum, Hatch AVL Foundation, Carolina West Regional Economic Development Partnership, Asheville Area Riverfront Redevelopment Commission, Asheville Merchants Association Advisory Committee, Western North Carolina Chamber Executives, North Carolina Economic Development Association, YMCA of Western North Carolina, C2ER – The Council for Community and Economic Research, Diana Wortham Center Board, Brother Wolf Animal Rescue Board, UNC Asheville Dept. of Management and Accountancy Board of Advisors and more.
  • Installation of a 93,000 kilowatt-hour solar array on roof of building.
  • Adoption of Investment Policy Statement and establishment of Special Use Reserve Funds and Operating Reserve Funds.

Fostered business connections.

  • Facilitated more than 17,000 connections through networking events, including Business After Hours, Orientation, Fresh Faces, and Mega Networking. 
  • Highlighted local manufacturers and their contributions to the local economy through Manufacturing Mornings networking events and facility tours.
  • Led six weekly Professional Networking Groups to foster business connections, meet industry-specific needs and share prospective client leads with one another.
  • Guided 20 Chamber Advocates who champion Chamber initiatives with hands-on volunteering and connect one-on-one with members to increase engagement and retention.

Informed and inspired members through professional development and communications.

  • Hosted 10 Smart Series educational sessions to provide insight on topics based on member interest.
  • Inspired nearly 1,000 women in business through WomanUP events, including a Celebration & Awards Ceremony with keynote by Caroline Wanga, two workshops and a WomanUP In Action series on childcare.
  • Saluted small businesses during Small Business Week with surprise deliveries, educational workshops, and social gatherings specifically designed for companies with fewer than 20 employees.
  • Celebrated workplace wellness with 900+ participants and 35 sponsors at the Chamber Challenge 5k.
  • 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 7,700+ subscribers. Shared updates on Chamber events and programs, local business news and legislative information as well as highlighting member updates and community events.
  • Engaged young professionals with community service, professional development and networking programs.

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

  • Welcomed more than 240 new members.
  • Generated over 228,000 page views on our website.
  • Assisted 300+ members in selecting wise investments and marketing opportunities through Total Resource Campaign, engaging 13 community volunteers and securing $1,405,040 in commitments to enhance the Chamber’s programs and initiatives.
  • Boosted customer traffic for 47 restaurants during Asheville Restaurant Week, including 7 new members.
  • Created Latin Business Council to offer education, coaching and valuable connections tailored to the needs of Latin owned businesses; an average of 40 Latin businesses participate in events regularly
  • Partnered with Black Wall Street to offer enhanced membership benefits and technical support tailored to the needs of BIPOC business owners.

Delivered additional value to members.

  • Customized the on-boarding of members in the first 90 days of membership with more than 440 touches by an expanded Impact Team to provide key industry introductions, ways to save money and personal invitations to events.
  • Launched Member Mondays social media emphasis to bring additional exposure to 23 long-term members in a variety of industries.
  • Launched Fresh Faces monthly deep-dive explanation of member benefits and networking for new members with social media photo shout-outs.
  • Enhanced Growth Partner membership level with broader networking opportunities to meet business goals.
  • Crafted 24 Asheville Spotlights, profiling member businesses on our website, newsletter and social media.
  • Generated 272,000 online impressions for Featured Members advertised on our website.
  • Provided personal interaction with more than 1,000 members to ensure Chamber programming and member benefits meet expectations and ROI goals for members.

Celebrated local business accomplishments.

  • Conducted 50+ ribbon cuttings to celebrate new members, grand openings and business milestones.
  • Recognized business successes with the Sky High Growth Awards; 25 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.
  • Recognized small business and nonprofit partners in peer-to-peer settings throughout the year.

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

  • Successfully completed construction of the new bridge accessing the Pratt & Whitney Plant in partnership with the Chambers Community Betterment Foundation, 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:
  • System Logistics announced $8M investment creating 37 new jobs
  • Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn announced $4.3M investment creating 66 new jobs
  • Life’s Abundance announced new headquarter location in Asheville investing $2.85M creating up to 50 new jobs
  • Identified 86 new project leads feeding a project pipeline worth over $4.3B in potential capital investment and over 24,360 potential new jobs for the community.
  • Convened executive meetings and community site visits generating over 260 new project contacts and 145 executive meetings in local industry.

Nurtured high-growth entrepreneurs through Venture Asheville.

  • Venture Asheville passed a historical milestone, surpassing $100M in Revenues earned and $50M in investment in startups in the Venture Asheville mentor-based incubator, Elevate.
  • Recognized the 15 Fastest Growing Start-ups with The Venture 15 and Venture Asheville Honors representing $81M in local revenue and employing 278 people.
  • Grew the Elevate Mentorship Program serving 21 new start-ups, representing 64 new jobs and $22M in new company revenues. Elevate companies raised a record-setting $13M in FY2023.

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

  • Featured renowned economist Dr. Chris Kuehl at 24th Annual Metro Economy Outlook and hosted Chris Chung, CEO of the EDPNC at the Annual Growth Breakfast.
  • Published customized research including the 2022 Creative Manufacturing Brief, Outdoor Industry Highlights Report and Companion Video Asset, and Focus Reports including Asheville Metro Economy, Education, Aerospace Industry, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, and Asheville Metro Cost of Living Index.
  • Delivered impactful regional projects for DMJPS and Arts AVL.
  • Launched Economic Impact Analysis for the WNC Nature Center, managed by the City of Asheville.

Fostered workforce development.

  • Launched the biennial State of Our Workforce: WNC Talent Analysis, reaching employers across 10 counties and 11 industries. Respondents expected to hire between 22,150-44,140 total new employees in the next 3 years.
  • Hosted 30+ 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 81 college students from across the region.
  • Presented the twice-annual WNC Career Expo, supporting over 135 employers and attracting record numbers of job seekers since the onset of the pandemic.
  • Grew the Inclusive Hiring Partners initiative to include over 30 Employer Partners and over two dozen partner agencies and service providers. The Golden LEAF Foundation-funded effort to bridge the opportunity gap in Buncombe County has reached 273 total job seekers, with 26 job placements since July 2020.
  • Held multiple community outreach and hiring events, in partnership with local faith-based and housing communities, to recruit job seekers from disconnected communities.

Showcased our community and local businesses to visitors.

  • Welcomed more than 172,000 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.

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.

Kept members informed on policy issues.

  • Held four Policy on Tap events, featuring insights on the French Broad river and economic impact of sports, Medicaid expansion and development in the South Slope.
  • Coordinated conversations between the business community and local government on addressing community safety, including commissioning a Business Improvement District feasibility study.
  • 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 Lexington, KY 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.
  • Kept in constant contact with local elected officials to provide a voice for business and influenced state legislation on behalf of local area businesses.