ASHEVILLE – While Asheville has developed a reputation across the region as a mountain retreat and craft beer mecca, a group of researchers and entrepreneurs are working to remake Asheville as “The Climate City.”

The Collider

Organizers and community members of The Collider, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, nonadvocacy innovation center focused on climate science and entrepreneurship nestled in the heart of downtown Asheville, this week announced ClimateCon 2018 and The Climate City Experience for March 2018.

“Everyone thinks of Asheville as Beer City,” said Megan Robinson, executive director of The Collider. “But there’s no reason we can’t also be recognized for the same entrepreneurial approach to solving the world’s climate-related challenges.”

Asheville is home to the world’s largest repository of weather and climate data, thanks to the scientists and researchers operating a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility, two renowned applied climate science research groups, dozens of climate entrepreneurs, and the staff and members of The Collider. With support from local universities, city government, and community organizers, Asheville is rapidly becoming a hub city for climate science and activists.

In fact, more than 11,500 individuals attended symposiums, workshops, training, coffee meetings, climate briefings, film screenings, and other programs held at or hosted by The Collider in 2017, said Robinson.

Robinson believes that the time is now to develop Asheville as an innovative community with a robust infrastructure that provides value to new and existing businesses, cultivates new entrepreneurs, and mentors the next generation of climate leaders.

“Everyone across the world is impacted by climate change in one way or another,” says Robinson. And through trying to individually think about and solve climate change is often crippling and disorienting, says Robinson, individuals and businesses can take meaningful steps to address these critical issues. That’s the goal of ClimateCon 2018: to give participants confidence and actionable steps to make a significant and lasting change.

Robinson, who leads the group of organizers, developed a partnership with the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County to bring this event to the region. Organizers expect up to 170 people to participate in conference sessions, including The Business of Climate Forum, which anchors the conference.

Michael Shore

Michael Shore, CEO of Tipping Point Renewable Strategies, will lead the Silver Lining of Climate Change panel, exploring the opportunities that businesses can create to solve climate change and inspire innovation in established businesses and newer startups.

“The science of climate change is well understood, and our planet is warming at a dangerous rate,” said Shore. “We need to meet this challenge head-on with hope and tenacity.”

Shore hopes that attendees will depart the conference with increased confidence and conviction that together, individuals and businesses can rise to the challenge. “Entrepreneurs are innovative and creative and on the front line of solving the climate change crisis,” said Shore, sharing that the panel discussion will help participants learn how to incorporate innovative thinking into their organizations. “We will prevail.”

Tipping Point

Other events during The Climate City Experience are open to the general public and will take place in a variety of venues including craft breweries. Notable sessions throughout the week include:

  • Friday, March 16: Highland Brewing Company hosts a toast to Climate City, open to the public, where the company plans to release a special small-batch beer crafted to commemorate ClimateCon 2018.

  • Monday, March 19: The Business of Climate Forum kicks off with an evening reception sponsored by Twin Leaf Brewery, featuring keynote speaker John Frey, an expert in information technology efficiency and sustainability at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

  • Tuesday, March 20: Highland Brewing will host The Climate Solutions Showcase, where entrepreneurs will demonstrate their climate products and services available for commercial application. The evening also features a presentation by Auden Schendler, vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, speaking on “The Case for Meaningful Action on Climate Change.” Free to business forum attendees, the general public can also attend the event with paid admission.

  • Wednesday, March 21: The Business of Climate Forum concludes with “Cheers to ClimateCon: A Conference Finale,” featuring, of course, local craft beer.

ClimateCon 2018 also features a one-day summit for emerging leaders on Monday, March 19. Organizers are working with colleges and universities across the region to invite up to 150 students interested in studying climate science, sustainability, or other related disciplines and young professionals working in organizations that have an interest in applying a sustainability lens to their work.

“We want to get students thinking creatively about climate solutions,” said Robinson. The summit is an essential component of the event because it creates a space for students to interact with one another and learn from each other, said Robinson.

Notably, the summit includes an address from Jeff Hicks, CEO of FernLeaf Interactive, who plans to discuss his journey from student to college intern to CEO of a startup working to deliver community resilience solutions.

Students and entrepreneurs will also be given the opportunity to enter a contest to pitch a new research concept or project or a viable business. Contest winners will receive a cash prize, membership at The Collider, and other donated services to help them pursue their project.

Registration is now open online at and early bird pricing is valid through January 25.