Huffington Post Calls Asheville “Next Green Tech Town”

October 29, 2014

Innovation Earth: The Next Green Tech Town
Excerpts from The Huffington Post – 10/22/14

Innovation Earth: The Next Green Tech Town
Excerpts from The Huffington Post – 10/22/14

More than 300,000 people may have marched in Manhattan last month for a worldwide climate call-to-arms, but evidently we can't even get it together at the statewide — let alone national — let alone global level. A study released last week by the Georgetown Climate Center shows that less than half of U.S. states are preparing for the coming effects of climate change. (Full rundown of the study here, at the Los Angeles Times.)

Chicago is planting trees for a warming Midwestern climate. Phoenix is rethinking its sprawl. Boulder has a carbon tax. San Francisco has mandated food composting. My hometown of Los Angeles now requires all new and refurbished homes to have 'cool roofs.

These towns are smart to prepare for the worst. But the smartest among them are also preparing for the best, becoming hubs for green tech and innovation that can bolster a city's economy along with its resiliency.

One to watch: Asheville, North Carolina. Surrounded by the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and long a haven for artsy types and outdoorsy retirees, the city has had at its forefront a certain eco-consciousness (as well as climate preparedness; the city has an extensive 169-page Sustainability Management Plan in place). But now, the city is poised to cultivate a new generation of green tech startups, led by the efforts of Lazy Environmentalist Josh Dorfman.

Last fall, Dorfman moved to Asheville with his young family and thought it would be great to use his startup and media experience to help scale up an entrepreneur community in his newfound hometown. Not long after, the perfect opportunity came along: He was hired by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce as its new director of entrepreneurship.

The resulting effort, the recently launched, will create what Dorfman dubs "a high-growth entrepreneurial ecosystem." Local wanna-be entrepreneurs are paired with startup funding via an in-town angel investor network (Asheville Angels) and are given access to bi-weekly pitch events, networking get-togethers and mentoring. A green tech offshoot of national startup accelerator The Iron Yard will be launching this fall.

Of course, Venture Asheville isn't exclusively focused on green tech. But the niche seems a natural fit for the city, which headquarters the National Climatic Data Center and its hundreds of climate scientists (including 16 Nobel laureates). The city will also soon be home to a 20,000-square-foot space downtown called the Collider that will serve as a meeting grounds for climate tech startups and scientists, entrepreneurs and even artists. Dorfman sees this as yet another potential incubator for innovation.

View the full article on The Huffington Post.