Asheville Organizations Launch Inclusive Hiring Partners

August 5, 2020


Inclusive Hiring Partners to connect area residents experiencing long-term unemployment or underemployment with wrap-around support services and careers 

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County announced the launch of Inclusive Hiring Partners, a new effort to reduce barriers to employment for local residents. A result of a long-term, collaborative effort to address racial disparities in our workforce, the initiative will pair people experiencing long-term unemployment or underemployment with support services, education, training and opportunities that lead to well-paying careers with local employers.

“Every member of our community deserves opportunity, but far too often, systemic barriers like intergenerational poverty, lack of access to health care and education disparities stand in the way,” said Kit Cramer, President & CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. “Inclusive Hiring Partners dovetails with the goals of economic mobility and shared prosperity identified in the AVL Greater community vision.”

The work of Inclusive Hiring Partners will focus on three key areas:


Inclusive Hiring Partners will prioritize working with people living in high-poverty Census tracts, people experiencing homelessness, survivors of domestic violence, formerly-incarcerated individuals and residents of the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville. Eligible participants should be enrolled in or qualify for case management services from one or more of the intensive services partner organizations listed above.

“MAHEC is honored to be an Inclusive Hiring Partner. We value this project’s commitment to developing career paths for jobseekers, while building a strong pipeline of untapped local talent into healthcare,” said Tommasanne Davis, Talent Acquisition Manager at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC). “This partnership is aligned with our mission, focused on rural communities and those disconnected from resources to develop and retain the diverse workforce needed to create a healthier region.”

“The times we are in serve as an important reminder to us all that we must make sure that everyone in our community has economic opportunities and career pathways to secure family-sustaining jobs,” said Nathan Ramsey, Director of the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board and Executive Director of Land of Sky Regional Council. “Mountain Area Workforce Development Board is honored to be part of the Inclusive Hiring Partners collaboration to transform the lives of many individuals and families in our community who have been left behind.  We must do better and this effort is a start to provide economic mobility opportunities for all while meeting critical employer workforce needs.”

“We thank the Chamber for initiating this collaboration and the Golden LEAF Foundation for financial support to provide meaningful career opportunities to people who need them most,” said David Nash, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville. “If we all work together, we can make a difference.”

“Community Action Opportunities, as an anti-poverty nonprofit, is truly excited to be part of Inclusive Hiring Partners,” said Kate Singogo, Self-Sufficiency Program Manager at Community Action Opportunities. “This was a natural alignment with the Life Works Program, which helps individuals move out of poverty through training/education, full-time living wage work and financial capabilities. It is especially exciting to have employers joining in this work, committing to inclusive hiring practices and working to create welcoming environments.”

“There are few of us who haven’t needed a second chance in some aspect of our life,” said Jackie Latek, Executive Director of the SPARC Foundation. “This partnership with the Chamber, inclusive employers and social support agencies recognizes the strengths and skills of people with life experience in the criminal justice system and leverages those experiences to bring opportunity and resources to those resilient and deserving Asheville citizens ready to make the most of their second chance.”

“At Hire Powered Staffing, we hire from the heart and empower who we hire,” said Philip Cooper, Founder of Hire Powered Staffing. “If you’re close to the community and close to the resources, then it is your duty to be a bridge.”

Inclusive Hiring Partners is the product of a long-term, collaborative effort to address racial disparities in our workforce that were made clear by State of Our Workforce survey results in 2018. The Golden LEAF Foundation recently catalyzed this effort by awarding the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC) a Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) Grant of $365,000 for a three-year funding cycle to support the work of Inclusive Hiring Partners. The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and EDC also received technical grant writing support from a Leverage Grant awarded by the Dogwood Health Trust.

The Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC) is a public-private partnership committed to creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its four core services: business retention and expansion; small business and entrepreneurship; research; and marketing and recruitment. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign.

For more than 120 years, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst for economic vitality in our community. The Asheville Chamber connects 1,700 member organizations, both large and small, representing more than 80,000 employees, to valuable resources such as economic development and research, business education, marketing opportunities and advocacy. Asheville Chamber initiatives have stimulated economic development, influenced public policy and supported the growth of thousands of local and regional businesses. Learn more at