ScaleUp WNC is branching out of the Asheville area. The initiative is one of eight launches of the United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) ScaleUp America program. Offered by Mountain BizWorks, ScaleUp WNC helps existing small businesses develop and implement intentional growth strategies. To participate, one must be either a founder or an executive manager of a business based in Western North Carolina, with at least one full-time employee, and identified opportunities for expansion. Participants typically have been running a business for at least two years, with corporate earnings somewhere between $150,000 and $750,000. They are described as being high-caliber from a diversity of backgrounds. Recruitment efforts target rural programs and businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans; and over half of participants to date have fit in at least one of those categories. The program runs cohorts of 15 companies each. Participants are selected in a competitive, merit-based process. The successful candidates enjoy mentorship, management training, connections with potential financiers, and a network of peers. Two cohorts will run this year. The fifth, like all its predecessors, was based in Asheville and began in February. The sixth, scheduled to work out of Boone, will convene in June. According to the SBA, businesses with fewer than 20 employees account for 90 percent of firms in the country and 97 percent of new jobs. Startups, however, create only 7 percent of new jobs.