The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, Inc. (ACEnet)
94 Columbus Rd.
Athens, OH 45701

The Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet) is a community-based economic development organization serving the 32 counties of Appalachia Ohio. ACEnet staff partners with regional microenterprise and development practitioners to create a healthy local economy, allowing opportunity for all residents to start businesses, obtain quality jobs, and connect with other entrepreneurs for mutual benefit.

General About the Organization/Mission

Mission Statement : " To build the capacity of Appalachian communities to network, work together, and innovate thereby creating a dynamic, sustainable regional economy with opportunities for all"

Basic Info

Type of Organization Non-profit
Primary Contact Phone: (740) 592-3854
Fax: (740) 593-5451
[email protected]
Social Media

Issues of Focus

The main strive of the ACEnet organization is building networking capacity through the communities of Appalachia. To achieve this, citizens must work together, innovate, support local organizations such as The Community Food Initatives Harvest Dinner, understand FDA labeling requirements and much much more. There is no one aspect that the ACEnet organization focuses on improving. It is understood to blossom through collaborative efforts thus creating a healthier, more developed and richer community aspect through greater availability of goods and serviecs.

History of Organization

The ACEnet organization was founded late 1985 by a group of community members in order to build a healthier and more regional economy for the greater Ohio Appalachian area located in Athens, Ohio. The main focus of the group then was on helping low-income people start "worker-owned" businesses. They initiated business with Casa Neuva Restaurant and helped grow their workforce from three staff members to over 50 worker owners earning starting wages of over $11.00 per hour! 

The idea was to keep creating sustainable jobs and in 1989 successful models throughout the world were being implemented into ACEnet's offices. They learned much from communities in Northern Italy which contained small manufacturers of twenty people or less. Places like this facilitated the ideas of networking around opportunities presented by niche markets and a generation of new businesses that could plant the seed of sustainability, community-based and economic development in Athens, Ohio.

By the early 90's ACEnet had established a start-up business head start by providing below-market rates for space and services. These services included fax, computers, reception, etc. They had realized also that for small businesses to thrive everyone needed to get familiarized with everyday computer usage and to learn technology. Technology played a huge networking role for ACEnet as well as sector-specific resources and facilitating communication with business peers. 

In 1993 ACEnet developed the Food Ventures Center to focus on the needs of companies providing specialty food products and provided licensed kitchen space for those entrepreneurs to develop their product lines without financial burden. 

Programs and Projects 

There are various Community Involvement programs, Farmer's Markets and Healthy Food Accessibility opportunities to become involved with under the ACEnet organization.

Primary Focuses and Goals of the ACEnet projects are:

  • Scale up infrastructure : Refrigerated Trucks, Truck Racks, Electric Pallet Jack and Flash Freezing technology.
  • Increase Staff capacity through local funding thanks to donations and Funders:
  1. Osteopathic Heritage Foundations
  2. For the love of Athens Foundation
  3. SJSCF
  • Increase distribution of fresh local foods throughout Southeast Ohio to:

Partners and Frequent Collaborators

ACEnet, in partnership with Rural Action, and Community Food Initiatives, formed a collaboration known as the Appalachia Accessible Food Network to accelerate healthy, local food access to underserved communities in Appalachia Ohio.

Future Developments for This Wiki

  • Updated Programs and Project Information