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News AdvantageWest announces promotion

Matt RakerDirector of green economy initiative to oversee entrepreneurial development

AdvantageWest, the economic development partnership for the 23 counties of Western North Carolina, announces the promotion of Matt Raker to the position of Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development & AdvantageGreen. The move comes after the resignation of Pam Lewis, who is leaving her position as Senior Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development to join the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville – Buncombe County (EDC) as Director of Entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurial development and the green and clean energy jobs initiative AdvantageGreen are two main areas of jobcreation focus for AdvantageWest. The other areas of focus are the advanced manufacturing segment and agribusiness. AdvantageWest also maintains the Western North Carolina Film Commission.

The expanded role for Raker is a natural fit, said Scott Hamilton, AdvantageWest president and CEO.

“Many of the companies Matt has been working with (and will continue to work with) as Senior Director of AdvantageGreen & Grants Administration over the past 18 months are entrepreneurial ventures,” said Hamilton. “Like Pam, Matt has been a small business owner himself, having cofounded first an interactive marketing firm focused largely on green businesses, and then a web-startup providing social network management and visualization services.”

Among Raker’s responsibilities will be the continued development of the Certified Entrepreneurial Community© (CEC) program, an intensive five-step process that certifies communities as entrepreneurready, and management of BREC, the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council.

“Matt Raker has made significant contributions to AdvantageWest’s efforts to build the clean and green economy in Western North Carolina,” said Tommy Jenkins, board chairman. “We feel very confident in his ability to excel in this expanded role.”

Jenkins cited several examples of Raker’s accomplishments since joining the AdvantageWest staff in December 2009:

• Helped secure $3.1 million in green economy grants awarded to the region through AdvantageGreen and partner collaborative programs.

• Developed the AdvantageGreen Energy Internships and Fellowships Program, placing 12 full time recent North Carolina college graduates with WNC green energy businesses and organizations

• Is co-directing with Land-of-Sky Regional Council the Building the Clean Energy Economy in WNC Project, which is working to expand quality clean energy jobs across the region.

• Established the AdvantageGreen Network (, an online network and resource guide with more than 500 green professional members.

A graduate of the NC Rural Center's Rural Economic Development Institute, Raker earned degrees in Economics and Natural Resources Management from UNC Asheville. He serves as chair of the Sustainability Advisory Committee for Asheville City Council. Recently, he was selected as a participant in the “Social and Economic Challenges for Future Leaders” leadership and professional development program of the US State Department.

To learn more about AdvantageWest, visit or call (828) 687-7234.

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