Since 1985, the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), based in Athens County Ohio, has held steadfast to its mission of growing the regional economy in 32 Appalachian Ohio counties by supporting entrepreneurs and local sector growth. With ARC support ARCnet operates the Food Venture Center in Athens, and Business Center and Food Hub in Nelsonville. These facilities offer business planning, marketing, financial management, and shared-use manufacturing services for local agricultural producers. ACEnet-incubated businesses are in local markets in Ohio and West Virginia as well as regional markets in New England and the Mid-Atlantic.
In 2020, with ARC support, ACEnet expanded the Nelsonville facility to include a Wood Manufacturing Center dedicated to the region’s hardwood product sector. In working with local partners such as Rural Action, Hocking College, and the Central Appalachian Network (CAN), the Wood Manufacturing Center will solidify the region’s hardwood supply chain by:
- expanding investment in the infrastructure and equipment for the ACENet Nelsonville Business Center and Hocking College Maker Network to scale production and diversify product lines;
- forming of new partnerships for value chain coordination in the forest and hardwood products sectors; and
- providing training and technical assistance to land owners, hardwood sector startups, established hardwood entrepreneurs, and students enrolled in accredited hardwood sector programs.
ACEnet anticipates the Wood Manufacturing Center will create or improve 55 new businesses, create or retain 65 jobs and leverage an additional $500,000 in public and private investment for the area’s hardwood sector over the span of 2 years.
“This project coordinates the expertise of long-standing partners to take the wood product sector to the next level through entrepreneurship assistance, maker space connections, and innovative forest management practices,” said ACEnet Director Larry Fisher.