Venture Asheville Receives Excellence in Economic Development Award from the International Economic Development Council

October 8, 2021

Washington, DC – Venture Asheville, the high growth startup initiative of the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County won a Gold Rank for its Venture Asheville/The Venture 15 and Venture Asheville Honors Programs, a project in the category of Innovation Programs and Initiatives of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC).  The honor was presented Tuesday, October 5th at an awards ceremony during the IEDC Annual Conference.

IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders. 25 award categories honor organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. Awards are judged by a diverse panel of economic and community developers, following a nomination process held earlier this year. IEDC received over 500 submissions from 4 countries.

The Venture 15 Awards and Venture Asheville Honors is an annual ceremony that ranks the 15 fastest growing startups in Asheville, North Carolina, hosted by local entrepreneur support organization Venture Asheville. The event honors the people and organizations that make Asheville a place for startups to thrive.  Now in its fourth year, the Venture 15 Awards have become an annual celebration of the economic impact of entrepreneurship in the Asheville Metro Region.  Metrics including annual revenues, compounded growth rates, new jobs, diversity and cofounder demographics identify long-term growth trends as well as emerging needs in the entrepreneurship ecosystem that inform the strategies of the AVL 5×5 Strategic Plan of the Economic Development Coalition.

In 2020, the 15 fastest growing startups in Asheville had a combined lifetime revenue of $106M, 80% were co-founded, 40% were female founded, one-third were in technology and one-third were in health care innovation.  Together, these top-ranking start-ups represented 345 high-wage jobs in Buncombe County.

“The winners of IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development awards represent the best of economic development and exemplify the leadership that our profession strives for every day,” said 2021 IEDC Board Chair and Invest Buffalo Niagara, President, and CEO Tom Kucharski. “We’re honored to recognize the more than 100 communities whose marketing submissions, projects, and partnerships have improved regional quality of life.  This year, more than ever, has presented opportunities to innovate, impact, and progress the cities, neighborhoods, and communities around us.”

“It was important to our team and community partners that we continue to celebrate the ingenuity of the Asheville start-up community during the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic year,” shared Director of Venture Asheville, Jeffrey Kaplan. “For startups and early-stage entrepreneurs, those challenges carried greater risk with fewer financial resources for survival.   The Venture 15 Awards recognized their extraordinary accomplishments and growing value to the regional economy.”

“Venture Asheville is fundamental to the comprehensive strategies of the AVL 5X5 Strategic Plan and our board is grateful for this national recognition,” noted EDC Board Chair, Jay Richardson.  “Entrepreneurship and innovation are critical to our community aspirations for high-wage job creation and economic diversification.  The Venture 15 Award Winners represent our next generation of economic leadership here in Buncombe County.”

In 2021, the Venture 15 and Venture Asheville Honors will be back as a live event, at The Orange Peel on December 16. Tickets will go on sale in November on



The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is a non-profit, non-partisan membership organization serving economic developers. With more than 5,000 members, IEDC is the largest organization of its kind. Economic developers promote economic well-being and quality of life for their communities by creating, retaining, and expanding jobs that facilitate growth, enhance wealth and provide a stable tax base. From public to private, rural to urban, and local to international, IEDC’s members engage in the full range of economic development experiences. Learn more at


The EDC for Asheville-Buncombe County is an accredited Economic Development Organization 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 five core services: industry retention and expansion, entrepreneurship, research, recruitment and workforce development.  The EDC is a public-private partnership 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 more than 1,500 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


Contact:   Clark Duncan, Executive Director

Economic Development Coalition for Asheville – Buncombe County

(828) 258-6134 –