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The Asheville Merchants Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina has awarded grants to seven Buncombe County nonprofit organizations. A total of $335,000 was awarded for innovative projects designed to build a stronger community and stimulate economic growth. The last two-year grant cycle from the Asheville Merchants Fund took place in 2007.
The Fund supports projects that strengthen the community through economic approaches such as community asset development and entrepreneurship; quality jobs and workforce development including living wage work and job training; social infrastructure encompassing family success and affordable housing; and youth success in school.
The recipients are:
Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project - $50,000 to conduct the Get Local program in Asheville and Buncombe County. Get Local promotes institutional purchases of locally-grown food and drives visitors and residents to farm-to-fork establishments.
Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity - $50,000 to increase sales by growing inventory and improving productivity at the ReStore, a primary sustaining income source for their home building and repair services for low-income residents. Improvements are projected to increase revenue by 5%, funding an additional two homes annually.
ABCCM - $50,000 to support the Operation Welcome Home Veterans Education and Training Services program, providing training, certification programs and employment opportunities through case management, financial support and community partnerships. By 2015, an estimated 650 veterans will have enrolled in the program.
Green Opportunities - $50,000 to expand the job training, case management, support and job placement services provided to economically-disadvantaged neighborhood residents, while transforming the W.C. Reid Center into a state-of-the-art, LEED-certified green jobs training center.
HandMade in America - $35,000 to support Craft Artist Entrepreneurship Training in Buncombe County including monthly Craft Labs, quarterly business development events, monthly meetings of Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs, quarterly exhibitions and more. Funds will also bring the nationally-known Art Business Institute to AB-Tech in 2013 and 2014.
Mountain BizWorks - $50,000 to develop customized micro lending – loans of $25,000 or less - for low-income Latino entrepreneurs in Buncombe County. This model program will make 65 micro loans to launch or expand 52 businesses, creating 75 jobs. Mountain BizWorks will use the model to expand the program to low-income African-American entrepreneurs and to those working in the local food system.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures - $50,000 to fund training tools to accelerate the development of new food and natural product businesses. Few small businesses are equipped to navigate the requirements of the Food Safety & Modernization Act passed in 2011. The toolkit will explain the Act and help business owners develop systems insuring profitability and the highest standards of food safety.
“After a hiatus, it is rewarding to provide support to effective Buncombe County organizations,” said Tom Hallmark, President of the Asheville Merchants Fund Advisory Committee. “Their innovative approaches to building economic growth will help make our community a better place to live and work for all of us.”
The Community Foundation is a permanent regional resource. The Foundation focuses discretionary resources on People in Need, Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming and Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources. Foundation staff leverages knowledge about the region and relationships with donors to enrich lives and communities in the region. The Foundation facilitates $11 million in charitable giving annually. Visit http://www.cfwnc.org for additional information.