In just more than a year, he has established and expanded his “buy local” initiative, LiveLocal RenoSparks, and created a free online directory for locally owned small businesses.
In recent months he developed a 10 percent shift campaign to encourage northern Nevada consumers to spend more of their money at home in order to reap the benefits of increased tax revenue.
He has shopped his ideas to municipal and county governments, on radio, television and in newspapers, and has been at the fore of promoting state legislation that would give local businesses preference in public bidding contracts.
And this week, Asher unveiled his latest creation: a business cooperative that gives local entrepreneurs a leg up in building a startup.
“We’re going to teach people how to become entrepreneurs and help turn our economy around,” Asher said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday for the Reno-Sparks Local Business Co-op.
For an annual $200 membership fee, Asher provides office space, website development and consultation and training services to entrepreneurs hoping to break through with a business idea that often times begins as little more than a lifelong passion.
For example, office space in a building located at the corner of Vassar Street and Cordone Avenue in Reno is now home to a radio show and, soon, a traffic safety school.
Eddie Floyd, long-time host of the public affairs program “Nevada Matters,” has been given studio space at the co-op to conduct interviews with budding local entrepreneurs, which will then be aired on a variety of AM and FM stations.
Stephen Shaw, a semi-retired motorcycle enthusiast, said he decided to develop a defensive driving training program because others didn’t put people in real-life, on-the-road situations. It’s not enough to have trainees circle through orange cones and make a complete stop in order to get certified, he said.
Shaw will begin holding courses at the business co-op offices later this month. He believes the space offers the right kind of support system and networking opportunities to make his American Traffic School of Nevada a success.
“It provides everything you could possibly need,” he said, describing the co-op as an incubator for startups.
And that’s Asher’s intention.
“This is a place where they’re entrepreneurial dreams can come true,” he said.
Asher hopes the launch of his business co-op will trigger the opening of a cluster of collectives throughout Reno and Sparks. He hopes a co-op focused on the renewable energy industry will soon complement his entrepreneurial-based platform.
“This is just like a chamber of commerce, but for only locally owned businesses,” he said.