As baby boomer business owners retire, our local business landscape is about to go through a dramatic shift.

Check out the new WNC study conducted by our partner organization, Project Equity. Engage with the interactive infographic to find out how your county is impacted by the potential loss of these businesses and learn how we can help.

 

Check out our latest coverage in the media

Announcing the Communities Thrive Challenge Grantees

The Rockefeller Foundation

December, 2018

Today, we are thrilled to share the names of the 10 organizations that will each receive a $1 million grant as part of the Communities Thrive Challenge, a joint funding opportunity from The Rockefeller Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Each organization is not only making a tremendous impact in its community but also offering insight into how others might address some of the biggest challenges facing our country. Their work sheds light on crucial questions, such as:

  • How might places that have fallen on difficult economic times reinvent their economies and create more opportunity for all?

  • How might local investors use their dollars to not only generate returns but also spur good jobs for low-income workers?

  • How might state and local governments ensure that all of their residents who are eligible for public benefits actually receive them?

Launched in April of 2018, the Communities Thrive Challenge promised $1 million grants to organizations with high-impact, potentially scalable, and community-driven approaches to tackling systemic barriers to economic opportunity in the United States. The Challenge recognizes that, for every person who may be enjoying the benefits of a strong U.S. economy, there are as many who are locked out and struggling to just get by.

The grantees are working on issues from economic revitalization to financial security, and they draw on tools from policy to technology and employer partnerships. Here are just a handful of the reasons some of these organizations stood out to us:

The Industrial Commons is reimagining industrial jobs in Western North Carolina, a region that has seen its manufacturing sector decline significantly in recent years. By partnering with both workers and businesses to help workers take equity stakes in their companies or to introduce worker committees within manufacturing firms, the Industrial Commons is developing win-win solutions and offering a new model for how to collaboratively revitalize places that have fallen on challenging times.

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Also read our coverage on the Communities Thrive Challenge Grant in Inside Philanthropy, the Morganton News Herald and the Mountain Xpress.


Facing South: A voice for a changing South

Facing South Image.jpg

In North Carolina, co-ops are building a more democratic economy

Nestled at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina, Morganton may seem like an unlikely place to find a large Mayan community. But since the 1980s, the Burke County city of almost 17,000 people, over 75 percent of them white and 12 percent black, is home to a growing Latino community, including Mayan immigrants from Guatemala.

Like other immigrants before them, the Maya came to Morganton in search of economic opportunity. Many found work at the local Case Farms chicken processing plant but grew dissatisfied over low wages, poor working conditions, and unsuccessful labor organizing efforts.

Searching for a better way to make a living, some have found it in cooperative economics. In 2008, Morganton native Molly Hemstreet organized Opportunity Threads to fill the need for ethical labor opportunities for the local community and to produce textiles for companies across North Carolina. Today, 20 of the co-op's 26 employees are Mayans. 

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Asheville Citizen Times

What will happen to Asheville's baby boomer businesses?

In the 15 counties of Western North Carolina, nearly 60,000 people work for baby boomers who are approaching retirement age, according to the study. 

The region has a big question to answer: What will happen to baby boomer businesses and their employees when the owners retire?

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Joe Scully, owner of Chestnut Photo courtesy of Maddy Jones / mjones@citizen-times.com, article by Emily Patrick

Joe Scully, owner of Chestnut Photo courtesy of Maddy Jones / mjones@citizen-times.com, article by Emily Patrick


Mountain Xpress

Passing the torch:

What happens when local business owners retire?

The imminent mass retirement of baby boomers has both economic advisers and worker advocates worried about the future of small businesses in Western North Carolina and beyond. Boomers, many of whom will retire within the next decade, own roughly half of all American businesses, census data shows.

 Read More →

Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads, article by Max Hunt.

Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads, article by Max Hunt.