Dedicated to building the capacity of Appalachian communities to network, work together, and innovate to create a dynamic, sustainable regional economy with opportunities for all.
2015 was a BIG year for us here at ACEnet as we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of our business incubator!  As we reflect back and look forward, we extend deep gratitude and thanks to the many partners who make our work possible!
 ACEnet Gets New Executive Director!

On December 1st, ACEnet's Director of the Food Ventures Program, Larry Fisher, was chosen to be our new Executive Director! Larry had been serving as Interim Director since September when previous Executive Director, Angie Hawk-Maiden resigned. 

In the short amount of time Larry has been in charge, he has strengthened internal and external communication channels, engaged stakeholders to understand and identify areas for growth, and put the mission of strengthening our local economy as the driving experience sweeping change.

He will take over as just the third CEO of the organization since its inception 30 years ago, and has already been with ACEnet for 13 years.
Thermal Processing Room Upgrades & Nelsonville Food Hub!

USDA-RBEG funding, coupled with an ACEnet match contribution, allowed ACEnet to make a significant investment in upgrades to the thermal processing room in 2015. RBEG grant and match purchased a multi-headed piston filler, commercial dehydrator, water activity meter, tilt skillet, kettle pump, boiler and epoxy floor renovation. 

The thermal processing room upgrades occurred in the early part of the year and enabled our larger bottlers to increase their production capacity and add new staff, and also to expand their warehousing square footage on ACEnet's Athens and Nelsonville campuses. 

The project enable ACEnet to meet the growing demand by food processors and agricultural producers growing demand for one-on-one assistance to develop FDA thermal process flow plans and HACCP plans for frozen, micro-processed and thermal processed product lines. The changes to the facility licensing and new FDA requirements made this investment critical in ACEnet's ability to maintain and expand tenant services in our Food Ventures Center and Nelsonville Food Hub. 

Funding also provided and leveraged additional investment
 from the Central Appalachia Network for ACEnet to provide product development, FDA process flow and HACCP training to other food enterprise center's staff and entrepreneurs. The accelerated demand for technical assistance from the Commonwealth Kitchen Incubator, MCBI Food Works Alliance and the Farmers Pantry and Community Kitchen has made ACEnet the one-stop shop for food entrepreneurs in Appalachia Ohio.


30th Anniversary Celebrations!

2015 has seen a series of 30th Anniversary celebrations! From Caravans To Tasting events at Kroger, we've had a busy year! You can read about our Caravan events at The Athens Messenger...

ACEnet Board of Directors Sees Changes!

With 2015 drawing to a close, ACEnet staff & board are saying goodbye to Board Treasurer, Donna Russell, manager of Member Business Services at the Ohio University Credit Union. Donna Russell has served for 9 years on the ACEnet Board of Directors, and we are sorry to see her go!

With Donna's departure, however, we are excited to welcome three new faces: Phil Meyer, Ohio University Credit Union CEO; Kristin Miller, Athens County Visitors Bureau Partner Engagement Manager; and Chef Kathryn McGushin, Hocking College Chef Instructor.

2016 newsletters will be featuring a "Meet the Staff" or "Meet the Board" section every month, so you'll have the opportunity to learn more about all of us!

  2015 Funding Partnerships & Awards!

ACEnet staff members are very grateful to all of our funders and collaborative partners in 2015. The last twelve months have been extremely productive supporting new initiatives, facility upgrade projects and expanded training and technical assistance services across Ohio and Central Appalachia.

Ohio Rural Development and the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation have been key investors in expanding our Food Ventures Center and equipping the Nelsonville Food Hub to increase opportunities for food entrepreneurs, farmers and social enterprises. With improved incubation services and network development ACEnet and our partners are building a local economy encouraging healthy food and rural livelihoods for all. 

The USDA Local Food Promotion Program grant has provided funding for marketing and branding allowing the 30 Mile Meal program to expand at a regional level. We enjoyed working with our partners in West Virginia this past year, Unlimited Future, Inc., the Natural Capital Investment Fund and the Wild Ramp on new regional distribution strategies, entrepreneurship training and collaborative brands.

We also deeply appreciate our long-term funders: the Ohio CDC Association Micro-Business Program and the Central Appalachia Network (CAN). Their annual grants provides ACEnet with on-going support to foster sustainable, microenterprise development across Ohio and to learn side by side with other practitioner peers. In April, ACEnet and our local partners, Rural Action, Community Food Initiatives and Live Healthy Appalachia were Ohio organization receiving funding from a regional CAN RCDI grant. Another small CAN grant is funding peer learning between ACEnet, the MCBI Foodworks Alliance, the Youngstown Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator, the Chesterhill Produce Auction and the Farmers Pantry and Community Kitchen in Perry County.

A wonderful project in 2015 was a collaboration with the Thomas J. Evans Foundation, the City of Newark, Denison University and a diverse host of partners in Licking County to implement the Canal Market District. The district includes a permanent farm market pavilion, community green space, and an event venue in the center of Newark's downtown square. 

And a bit closer to home we deeply appreciate the Athens Foundation and the Rocky Community Improvement Foundation in supporting the relocation planning for the Athens Farmers Market and marketing support for the Nelsonville Farmers Market.

And as the year closes, recent contracts with the city of Athens to re-envision the Armory and with Northeast Shores Development Corporation to research a Made in Collinwood brand initiative are two on-going projects that bring us back to our "regional flavor" roots working with artisans, makers and unique retailers enriching our creative economies.

As 2016 rounds the corner we offer a heartfelt thanks to all and look forward to weaving a connected network economy that serves us all.
Help ACEnet See Another 30 Years!

Make a difference in your community this holiday season! Join ACEnet's 30th Anniversary donor drive and learn how you can support the small businesses that drive our local economy by visiting our website at 

You can also support ACEnet's work all year round! You can support us when you shop at Kroger by participating in the Kroger Community Rewards program! By designating"ACE NET" (the space in the middle is necessary) as the recipient of your Community Rewards points, Kroger will contribute a portion of the proceeds to ACEnet. Click  HERE to learn more!

Shopping online this holiday season? When you shop on Amazon, you can support ACEnet by participating in the Amazon Smile program! By designating "The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks" (don't worry, you can just search for ACEnet!), Amazon will contribute a portion of the proceeds to ACEnet. Click  HERE  to learn more!
Thank you to our 30th Anniversary Champion Sponsors!


Contact us at 740.592.3854 or 
Your tax-deductible contribution helps ACEnet expand economic opportunities in the Appalachian Ohio Region! Thank you for your continued interest in and support of what we do here at ACEnet!
Meggan Loveland
Appalachian Center for Economic Networks
94 Columbus Rd,  Athens, OH 45701 
(740) 592-3854
94 Columbus Rd, Athens, OH 45701