Economic developers seem to think so. The Asheville Chamber’s Asheville 5X5 jobs initiative to create 5,000 jobs in five years specifically targets manufacturing in outdoor recreation. That’s not a bad bet.
For passionate entrepreneurs, the outdoors is more than a place to go play, it’s a place to generate some real paychecks.
With Asheville home to companies like Industry Nine and Cane Creek, I’d say they’re already on to something.
Along with the companies, Asheville boasts at least 10 bike shops, twice the number found in larger cities such as Greensboro, according to Mike Nix, owner of Liberty Bicycles.
Bikes are a $6 billion industry in the U.S. with some 18 million bikes sold each year. More than a quarter of the market, or 5 million — were mountain bikes, according to a 2008 survey by the National Bicycle Dealers Association.
In Western North Carolina, there are 53 bike shops and service centers, pulling an estimated $19.6 million in annual sales, according to the trade group America Bikes.