Asheville Promotes the Arts, Invention and Entrepreneurial Spirit
Visitors to Asheville find both excitement and relaxation in the city’s many indoor and outdoor recreational and cultural activities. In fact, many people who came here on vacation now call themselves residents, lured by the city’s appeal to those who see things a little differently.
The creative vibe is in full display throughout Asheville, where companies of all sizes thrive in an atmosphere of can-do entrepreneurship. That’s definitely the case at Integritive, a Web marketing and design firm which was set up by John Miles in 2001 after he himself had fallen for Asheville’s charms.
“It really came out of the need to provide service in this region that wasn’t being provided, as well as create a job for myself and some other people,” Miles says. “I saw that a marketing and design firm with a creative culture is something that could be built here. I also found this to be a city where a guy in his late 20s could build a business like that, which I don’t think would be true in a city like Baltimore or Atlanta or Charlotte.”
Miles found himself in Asheville for the first time about a dozen years ago, visiting family between rock-climbing stints in Europe and the western United States and Mexico. He realized that “there was plenty of climbing to be had here,” and quickly succumbed to the region’s charms.
“It’s a great place to live and raise a family,” he says. “It’s an urban center with a lot of creativity, and livability is on people’s minds. This is a place where, if it’s snowing outside, people are expected to wrap up work and go snowboarding.”
Cultural Activities Abound in Asheville
Indeed, this is a town that thrives on sports and recreation, but indoor culture as well. The Asheville Art Museum holds pride of place for the city’s arts aficionados, offering up an a roster of exhibitions and public programs along with its permanent collection of 20th- and 21st-century art and works which highlight western North Carolina’s rich artistic heritage.
On a slightly bigger scale, there’s the Grove Arcade, a downtown commerce center that has been a hub for small shops and services since opening in 1929. After serving various functions over the years, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and now features shops, restaurants, offices and 42 luxury apartments.
And in addition to a deep bench of local entertainment options, large-scale concerts and other activities find a showcase at the U.S. Cellular Center, which recently underwent renovations to its banquet hall, seats and concession areas, as well as upgrades to the concourse and the addition of a new, pre-function space.
In short, finding a work-life balance in Asheville is a challenge, but it’s definitely possible.
“Most businesses here really don’t encourage the 80-hour workweek,” Miles notes. “Everyone here wants to do good work, but they also want to live. We have a growing number of socially responsible entrepreneurs who work to build their businesses, but also work to build the town that we all live in.”
Read more about the business climate in Asheville.