Collaborative and Equitable Employment Initiative Formed in Asheville

Inclusive Hiring Partners (IHP), a coalition addressing the lack of opportunity in portions of the Asheville workforce community, will provide historically disenfranchised job seekers with support and mentorship to reduce and eliminate barriers in hiring and employment.

The Inclusive Hiring Partners initiative is free to use and aims to change the employment trajectory of under-resourced communities and individuals while improving work places through diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity.

IHP is funded by the Golden Leaf Opportunities for Work grant and provides for the Asheville workforce through a collaborative effort between the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, local employers, and community service providers. With a goal to place 100+ Ashevillians in upwardly-mobile job positions by the end of 2023 and create a 300+ cohort of active job seekers, IHP will look at the systemic issues and potential fixes through the lens of the opportunity gap and how it affects the local community. Announcing the initiative through an ad campaign and the slogan “Putting the YOU back in business,” the initiative seeks to answer the question: What would Asheville’s workforce look like if people, who want to work but lacked opportunity because of systemic issues and their impact, got the assistance they needed to circumvent those obstacles?


“Since we launched in July 2020, we’ve placed 17 job seekers into full-time, living wage employment with employer partners and have over 300 currently open jobs to fill immediately. These employers are excited about the opportunity to improve their talent pool and diversify their workplace by engaging with the community in this way,” said April Brown, Director of Industry Recruitment and Expansion, Economic Development Coalition for Asheville Buncombe County.

Current IHP employer partners are: American Red Cross Biomedical, AvL Technologies, Buncombe County Government, Burial Brewing, City of Asheville, Dave Steel Company, Deltec Homes, Diamond Brand Gear, East Fork Pottery, Eaton, French Broad Chocolates, MAHEC, Mills Manufacturing, New Belgium Brewing, Sierra Nevada Brewing, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and T.P. Howard’s Plumbing.

For a business to become a partner with IHP, they must have at least 5 job openings per year, commit to guaranteed interviews to IHP job seekers, work hands-on with job seeker success coaches and mentors, require management and supervisors to attend racial equity and inclusion training, evaluate organizational practices based on the Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks, and be Living Wage Certified.

In addition to the employers, IHP is also working with Asheville community-based organizations, such as The Housing Authority of the City of Asheville, YMI Cultural Center, Verner Center for Early Learning, Community Action Opportunities, SPARC Foundation, On-Track Financial Education and Counseling, A-B Tech Community College, Goodwill Industries, NCWorks, Jordan Peer Recovery, STEP, Pisgah Legal Services and Mountain Area Workforce Development Board.

The primary goal of the coalition is to increase workforce participation and job retention for populations in our community who have been socially and economically disconnected from generational prosperity of our region. Their mission is to connect participants to opportunities that move individuals and their families from surviving to thriving.

To learn more about Inclusive Hiring Partners and how to partner with them as a job seeker or employer, visit