Perspectives

For 30 Years, ACEnet has Helped Develop Our Local and Regional Economies

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The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACENet) has celebrated its 30th anniversary as a community development corporation.

Over the years, it has focused primarily on developing and expanding the local food industry and the local food economy.

Currently, ACEnet is being led by Larry Fisher who was named executive director in 2015. Fisher has been with ACEnet since 2002 acting as the chief financial officer.

Under his direction, ACEnet has expanded programming, secured grant dollars and developed news partnerships with industry.

ACEnet helps local businesses and entrepreneurs, especially in the food industry, establish support systems, infrastructure and distribution avenues.

Currently, ACEnet is expanding a distribution system for local and natural foods. It has a network of kitchens and businesses as far north as Cleveland and Youngstown using local Southeastern Ohio products.

Fisher is working to expand that distribution network even as far south as Virginia in 2016-2017.

Some well-known local businesses have sought help from ACENet over the years.

Currently, ACEnet is working with local Snowville Creamery to expand its markets to as far to the east as Washington, D.C.

Milo Foods, another progeny of ACEnet, is now being distributed internationally and Fisher says he is helping develop Milo labels in foreign languages.

Fisher also states that regional food products are now being distributed by many national food chains from Whole Foods to Walmarts.

In addition to food related businesses, ACEnet assists a variety of new and existing businesses through its Business Incubation Program. That assistance involves business plans, financial management plans and employment practices.