WNC AgriVentures

Cultivating Jobs & Innovation in WNC’s Agriculture & Natural Resource Sectors

The WNC AgriVentures – Cultivating Jobs and Innovation Project (“WNC AgriVentures”) aims to measurably increase job creation, innovation and wealth retention across rural Western North Carolina through a regionally integrated platform for accelerating high-impact projects within emerging or expanding agriculture and natural resources based industries.

WNC AgriVentures is one of 13 projects funded nationwide under the federal Jobs & Innovation Accelerator Challenge and is principally supported by the US Economic Development Administration, US Department of Agriculture, Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, Land-of-Sky Regional Council and AdvantageWest.


The WNC AgriVentures project is a recognition of the substantial economic and community development opportunities that will result from an integrated regional approach to:

  • Identifying key supply chain gaps and developing critical regional infrastructure to ensure the continued expansion of these sectors
  • Clearly packaging and delivering existing regional resources in a coordinated fashion to accelerate new startups and existing businesses within these sectors
  • Proactively cultivating linkages between rural WNC and these industries to ensure that quality job creation is achieved regionally

Following are the complementary sustainable agriculture and natural resource based sectors where WNC AgriVentures is focused:

  • Local, organic foods
  • Value-added food and natural products
  • Craft brewing and craft beverages
  • Rural renewable energy and energy efficiency
  • Agritourism, ecotourism, and outdoor industry
  • Other bio-based products, such as fiber/textiles and forest products


Below are some of the key project investments and activities that have been supported to date:

Accelerating Appalachia Accelerating Appalachia: An accelerator focused on launching and scaling seed-stage nature-based businesses  

Innovation Council: A cross-sector group of innovators and leaders that are driving the project's regional, integrated and catalytic approach. The council advises on key economic gaps and opportunities and has helped advance the following pilot projects:

  • Increasing WNC's Red Meat Processing Capacity Study
  • Developing Innovative Drying Solutions for Value-added Medicinal Herb Crops Study
  • Scaling Up Organicel Study
  • Growers Cooperative Production Manager Pilot Project
  • Feasibility study for an Agriculture Innovation Center
  • Co-Packing at Blue Ridge Food Ventures
Blue Ridge Tech Ventures: Assists companies with technology development, commercialization and connecting with regional r&d assets   
Outdoor Gear Builders of WNC: A vibrant network of outdoor gear manufacturers and other outdoor industry  
WNC Farm Link: A partnership facilitating relationships between farmers looking for land to farm and landowners aspiring to keep their land in agriculture  


WNC AgriVentures is a collaborative effort across Western North Carolina jointly led by AdvantageWest and Land-of-Sky Regional Council. The project partners include: A-B Tech Education and Entrepreneurial Development Foundation, Accelerating Appalachia, AdvantageWest, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Bent Creek Institute, Blue Ridge Food Ventures, Cherokee Preservation Foundation, Community Foundation of WNC, EvolveEnergy Partnership, Handmade in America, Land-of-Sky Regional Council, Lenoir-Rhyne University, Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, Mountain BizWorks, NC Dept of Agriculture, NCSU Extension, NC Natural Products Association, Ownership Appalachia, People and Planet Holdings, SBTDC, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Technology Commercialization Center, and others.