From Asheville to Austin: Asheville to have unprecedented presence at SXSW 2012; plan is to pitch Asheville as an entrepreneurial haven

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Asheville will, for the first time ever, have an unprecedented presence at SXSW, one of the hottest film, music and tech conferences in the U.S. It’s the latest in a series of moves by a group of AVL movers and shakers who continue to pitch Asheville as a haven for entrepreneurs.

The official Asheville contingent will set up a display and host a networking party during the super-hot event in Austin, which each year draws an amazing array of tech gurus, musical acts and independent films.

The last few years, the festival has placed a greater emphasis on investors and entrepreneurs. And that’s why Asheville wants to be there with such a strong presence. Economic development officials recognize that the future of the local economy lies in developing start-ups, supporting entrepreneurs and nourishing small business owners. Thus the full-court press.

Here’s the who’s-who representing Asheville in Austin:

Pam Lewis, director of entrepreneurship for the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and local Economic Development Commission; Ben Teague, director of the EDC; Bradley Cain, on behalf of the EDC; Troy Tolley, co-founder of Digital Chalk; Marilyn McDonald, A-B Tech’s strategic business development officer and executive director of a foundation aimed at creating a new technology accelerator; Jonathan Feldman, IT director for the city of Asheville; and Trevor Lohrbeer, CEO of Lab Escape.

Sean O’Connell of Asheville-based Music Allies will also be at SXSW doing his music thing, but will surely have a presence at the Asheville party. Reporter Dale Neal of the Asheville Citizen-Times will be there to cover the local connection, as will Mountain Xpress arts and music reporter Alli Marshall. (Did I see also that Xpress food writer Mackensy Lunsford will be attending?)

The Asheville event also has a couple of heavy-hitting co-sponsors – the Global Accelerator Network and Cisco Systems. Those are weighty partners to help draw in people.

The Asheville event is titled “adVenture Asheville” and will feature plenty of nods to the mountains. The group hopes to serve up a little moonshine from Troy & Sons Distillery and will have hammocks from Eagle’s Nest Outfitters out for people to lounge on, for example. There will also certainly be other food, photos and art on display from Asheville. The Asheville presence is being funded by an anonymous donor.

Again, the goal is to pitch Asheville as a great place for entrepreneurs to get a start. Will it work? Is Asheville ready to support the risk-takers when they get here?

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. JML February 20, 2012

    Local graphic artist Joshua Marc Levy designed the Small Stone Showcase Poster which was silkscreened locally at Asheville’s On A Roll. It is signed and numbered, up on display and for sale at ZaPow! Gallery downtown on Battery Park Pl.

  2. Jamesstern February 16, 2012

    Local band River Whyless will be there!

  3. Ashevillain February 16, 2012

    “for the first time ever”


    Hello, this is the department of redundancy department…

  4. LRayz February 16, 2012

    Ummmm…something seems to be missing here? SXSW is also about showcasing bands and new talent. It’s a chance for bands to get signed, scene and heard with over 2,000 bands in attendance and 92 live venues in play. Why on earth is there no local representation as far as music goes? I realize that the music scene here is greatly hyped but where are the bands? I know for a fact there is plenty of talent locally. Every year anywhere from 5-10 bands attend from the Chapel Hill/Raleigh area and this had been going on since the 90’s. So the so called “movers and shakers” are pitching Asheville as a “haven for entrepreneurs”? Seriously lets work on supporting the existing upstarts and entrepreneurial businesses that are struggling here now! How about instead of taking that fun trip out of town for the weekend why not start a band instead? And don’t lame out and do the dj thing either. We’re talking a real band that plays real instruments and not turntables or iPods of other artists music. In the immortal words of Public Enemy…”Don’t Believe the Hype”! Seriously Asheville, the king has no clothes…now go buy that MOOG you’ve always wanted and show the world we actually do have something “real” to offer and not just pipe dreams and more micro-breweries.

    1. Jacque February 16, 2012

      Lrayz – you’re confusing the conferences. SXSW is broken down into three separate events: Music, Film, and Interactive. The interactive portion is likely the focus here, to get creatives to come do business in Asheville. The film business could always use a boost, but the music scene here is already vibrant and well-documented.

      1. Pamasheville February 16, 2012

        The interactive is the focus and thank you Jacque. We need all the support from our community. We are a startup community and will be participating in the SXSW Startup Village programming. We will be promoting Asheville as home to Moog, DigitalChalk, Curious Sense and Creative Allies among others.

    2. cernst77 August 8, 2012

      LRayz, if you want more than pipe dreams and micro-breweries you should drop the negativity and start doing something productive like these folks are.


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