ASHEVILLE,The addition of a Wi-Fi hotspot to cover downtown Asheville is just one of the ways that western North Carolina is trying to become more of a business destination within a very pro-business state.

With the recent expansions of radio frequency identification technology (RFID) expert Navigational Sciences, new antenna specialist SmartBand Technologies, and the Asheville technology mainstay BUILDERadius, hopefully you can see the beginnings of a wireless technology cluster in the mountain region known much more as a weekend tourism destination.

When Jane Smith Patterson attended the 2004 Carolina Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference at the Crest Mountain Conference Center, she had an insight into the potential of the technology economy in the mountain region. Patterson is one of the founders of the improved technology infrastructure in the state of North Carolina. Frankly, she is a part of the infrastructure of the technology economy in North Carolina. Patterson’s organization, the e-NC Authority, is the designated state authority charged with Internet planning and using the Internet as a platform for technology-based economic development.

Patterson and her staff are hosting the 2005 Southeast Wireless Symposium in Asheville at the Renaissance Hotel on November 16-17. ( ) This is the third annual conference on the wireless technology industry that is attended by technologists, infrastructure experts, economic developers and government officials who want wireless and broadband Internet infrastructure expansion in their regions.

The conference is sponsored by wireless industry heavyweights such as Qualcomm, Alcatel, Sprint and our regional economic development partnership, AdvantageWest. The speakers are from all over the US and will cover interesting topics such as using wireless communications post-hurricane Katrina, the future of Wi-Max and Wi-Fi on a shoestring budget.

By recruiting this wireless conference to Asheville, the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council (BREC) is making every effort to raise the business profile of western North Carolina. In September, BREC also recruited the quarterly meeting of the southeastern members of the Angel Capital Association, part of the Kauffman Foundation. This meeting was held in combination with the third annual Carolina Connect Entrepreneur and Capital Conference on Sept. 8th. The Carolina Connect event hosted over $2.25 billion in represented capital and 250 attendees from nine different states. That event was followed by a LocalTechWire Tech Exec reception, hosted on the top floor of the hotel with beautiful downtown and mountain views.

With the beautiful annual changing of the leaves in full color, please consider coming to western North Carolina for the 2005 Southeast Wireless Symposium to begin to think of your mountain neighbors in a new light, as a potential business destination.

Jim Roberts is the founding Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council and Blue Ridge Angel Investors Network, both programs of AdvantageWest, the western North Carolina Regional Partnership for Economic Development. Jim can be reached at 828-273-9862 or