Matthew Raker serves as the Vice President of Entrepreneurship and AdvantageGreen at AdvantageWest, a regional economic development partnership in western North Carolina. As director of AW’s entrepreneurship efforts, Matt works closely with regional partners to ensure WNC is home to a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. Building on his considerable work at the intersection of economy and environment, Matt also heads the AdvantageGreen program, an initiative to capitalize on WNC’s exceptional natural assets and opportunity to be a leader in sustainable industries. Through AdvantageGreen, Matt works with startups, existing industry and regional partners to advance WNC economic clusters in clean energy, green building technologies, natural products, sustainable agriculture, outdoor sports and climate science. Matt holds degrees in Economics and Natural Resources Management from UNC Asheville.
- Manages the Advantage Opportunity Fund, a revolving loan fund for seed-stage entrepreneurs in WNC. Since 2007, AOF has provided more than $900,000 in capital and attracted more than $9,000,000 in additional investment into locally owned startups.
- Brought local economy leaders from across Western North Carolina together to produce Venture Local, an annual local+sustainable+social business forum, that seeks to celebrate and advance Western North Carolina’s success in sectors like local foods, natural products, energy, and others.
- Helped facilitate the establishment of the EvolveEnergy Partnership to expand WNC’s clean energy economy.
- Currently supporting the creation of a new business accelerator with an aim to launch high-impact entrepreneurial ventures in sustainable agriculture and natural resource-based industries.
- "A Lesson in Development from the Tar Heel State" - U.S. News and World Report, October 2013
- "Field to Fryer to Fuel project receives $130,000 grant" - Asheville Citizen-Times, November 2012
- "Finding the balance: Venture Local aims to nurture sustainable economies" - Mountain Xpress, November 2012
- "Venture Local will boost entrepreneurs" - Asheville Citizen-Times, November 2012
- "AgriVentures grant should boost WNC jobs" - Asheville Citizen-times, August 2012
"AdvantageWest promotes Matt Raker to VP of Entrepreneurial Development & AdvantageGreen" - Mountain Xpress, June 2011