The Forrest Firm is excited to launch its new Asheville office this summer at The Collider, a nonprofit innovation center and coworking space dedicated to fostering business-centric climate change solutions. Our newest location continues in the Forrest Firm’s B Corp mission of providing clients with the highest quality legal services while also creating sustainable environments for its legal professionals and serving the greater good of the community.
The Collider, which first opened its doors in March of 2016, is the brainchild of “impatient philanthropist” Mack Pearsall. Pearsall, a longtime resident of Asheville and the son of former NC House of Representatives speaker Thomas Pearsall, wanted to create a space where scientists and business innovators could share ideas and formulate new answers to climate change together.
Pearsall saw Asheville – often called “Climate City” – as the perfect home for such a space. In addition to its wealth of natural beauty and ecological diversity, Asheville is home to the world’s largest collection of climate data, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Pearsall partnered with Tom Karl, retired director of the NCEI, and Claire Callen, real estate investor and owner of the downtown Wells Fargo building. Together, they created The Collider, so named because it is a place where different sectors collide: public and private, science and business, academic and nonprofit.
Since it first opened on the Wells Fargo building’s top floor, The Collider has lived up to its title of “innovation center,” stimulating conversation and problem-solving among the region’s best environmental entrepreneurs and most creative minds. The center’s stunning 270-degree view, which showcases both the downtown skyline and the Blue Ridge Mountains, serves as a metaphor for its mission: Bringing different entities together to inspire something new and beautiful.
In a big move that will surely shape the organization for years to come, The Collider hired Venture Asheville’s Josh Dorfman as its new CEO this past spring. Under Dorfman’s leadership, the organization is expanding its support of climate tech entrepreneurship through weekly skills-based workshops, startup bootcamps, and a new mentor program that offers access to climate scientists, big data experts, and startup executives and investors. Industry conferences, climate data hackathons, and partnerships that span government, academia, and the corporate world are also in the works.
Now, according to attorney Martha Bradley, the Forrest Firm is becoming a part of The Collider’s mission. “As the only Certified B Corporation law firm in North Carolina, we are always committed to having a positive social impact on the communities we serve,” said Bradley, who focuses her business law practice from her office at the climate hub. “The Collider’s emphasis on creating environmental solutions for the benefit of all fits beautifully with this principle, and expands upon it.”
Central to being a B Corp is the desire to use business as a force for good, and fulfilling a B Corp-rooted mission often means seeking partners whose values are similarly aligned. This is the very desire on which The Collider was founded and the reason why their mission has been so successful in spurring innovation in climate products and services. “We are impressed by their ability to use business in combination with science for the greater good, and we look forward to learning a thing or two from The Collider’s leadership, as well as the leadership of its member companies, in an effort to improve the way we serve communities,” said Bradley. “This has been the case with our relationship with Durham’s ReCity Network, North Carolina’s first social impact hub. Several of my colleagues keep office hours there, and the relationship there has been a big win for all involved. I’m sensing the same opportunity here in Asheville with The Collider, and multiple Forrest Firm attorneys, representing the spectrum of business law—real estate, intellectual property, employment, formation and financing—are interested in forging the same kinds of mutually beneficial relationships here in the mountains.”
For more information on The Collider visit www.thecollider.org.