Entrepreneurs Heading West for Venture Conference

Blue Ridge groups bring in host of speakers for Connect 2004 event in Asheville. ‘If we want our regional economy to grow, we have to help our entrepreneurs get access to capital,’ says conference organizer.

ASHEVILLE,A crowd closing on nearly 200 is expected to turn out on Tuesday for the Connect 2004 entrepreneur and capital conference.

The second event, which is put on by the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council and the Blue Ridge Angel Investor Network, has received commitments from investors and firms representing more than $800 million in venture capital.

“Our entrepreneurs have not had much exposure to investment capital so we are trying to improve their chances of making the right impression the first time and continued success,” Jim Roberts, who runs the Blue Ridge group, tells Local Tech Wire.

“If we want our regional economy to grow, we have to help our entrepreneurs get access to capital. There are only three ways to get capital, and the conference addresses all three — get more revenue, more investor capital and more research grants.”

The BREC and the angel networks are both parts of Advantage West, an economic development group focused on Western North Carolina. Also assisting with the conference are the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US Department of Energy, and the Western North Carolina Center for Technology Commercialization.

“This conference will celebrate the two-year anniversary of creation of the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council,” Roberts adds. “We have succeeded in getting the word out as we have been featured in 13 local, regional and national articles just in July and August, including a quote in Entrepreneur Magazine.”

Roberts says the one-day event is part of the area’s efforts to reshape its economy.

“We are trying to diversify our regional economy with a nationwide decline of the manufacturing base and the industrial relocations have certainly become more competitive with the global economy,” he says, adding “The same concerns that helped build the Council for Entrepreneurial Development in RTP over 20 years ago.”

The theme of the event is “From Potential to Profit”.

A wide variety of speakers from various investment firms and other organizations will be on hand to discuss financing as well as entrepreneurial opportunities.

The keynote panel will focus on different forms of capital. Participating will be Stephen Clossick of Tri State Investment Group; Jeff Clark of Aurora Funds; John Ujvari of the North Carolina Small Business & Technology Development Center; and Pat Boeshart, founder and CEO of Life-Form Concrete Systems.

Numerous breakout sessions will focus on how to raise capital, marketing and media, legal assistance, government programs and grants.

Other speakers include Franc Myer of AM Pappas; Kathy Harris of Noro-Moseley Partners, Charles Moreland of the NC Biotechnology Center; and Marianne Hudson of the Kauffman Foundation’s Angel Capital Association.

The program will begin at 7:30 AM at the Crest Mountain Center in West Asheville.

For details, see: www.awnc.org/connect2004