Who We Are

Unleashing Entrepreneurship in Appalachia

Appalachian Investors Alliance (AIA) is a non-profit educational foundation working to revitalize the region’s economy by facilitating community-based, self-reinforcing economic and workforce development through entrepreneur readiness.  The AIA provides technical services to community-minded angel investors and committed entrepreneurs.  These services include organizing capital and augmenting accelerator and academic/business school curriculum with practical, “dress rehearsal” entrepreneurial training to compete for precious regional and national venture resources and funding.

The AIA supports investors’ efforts in the region to create access to capital programs for dedicated entrepreneurs.  It is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER Grant program.  With these grant resources the AIA has demonstrated sustainable economic and workforce development is possible through an Impact Investing model tailored to the unique challenges and opportunities in Appalachia. 

Regional affiliated Impact Funds have created a tangible financial impact. To date, 130+ AIA accredited investor members have launched eight (soon to be 11) angel/impact funds in as many Appalachian states which have placed $10 million in direct private investment into 34 entrepreneurial companies. This capital leveraged significant additional investments from outside the region and AIA’s network validating a new regional technology economy.

Hundreds of jobs have been created through this process in three years.  The AIA has demonstrated that it can shift resources from Wall Street to “Main Street” by working to create more informed investors and competitive entrepreneurs in the region.

Gilson's Story
of Change

What started as a happy accident has become one of the fastest growing ski and snowboard companies in the world. Sometimes, all it takes is stubbornly chasing down answers to questions, a dose of luck, and support from private financial backers brought together under a program of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).


The Appalachia region, despite its true history of entrepreneurship, is not often regarded as a “hotbed” of cutting-edge technology.  The truth of the region is that self-reliance, invention, and entrepreneurship are old traditions of the Appalachians.  Today, that spirit of innovation manifests itself through technology startups.

Conservation Labs, Inc.

The affiliated funds of the Appalachian Investors Alliance are always looking for key characteristics in potential portfolio companies: sound company foundation, strong leadership, a well-designed product with clear advantages in the market, IP, and at least one sales channel ready to enter market.  These characteristics represent the three types of risk that investors, even Impact Investors, must understand in order to commit the time and resources necessary to create a sustainable company: structural risk, execution risk, and market acceptance risk.  These are difficult criteria to find despite all the great ideas that seek investment capital annually in the region.