RALEIGH – The North Carolina Community College System Small Business Center Network (SBCN) announced award recipients during a recent conference in Wilmington. The annual, statewide awards honor small business centers and center directors for Innovation, Service/Collaboration and Programs/Seminars; Business Success Story Impact and Overcoming Challenges; as well as Small Business Center Director and Rookie of the Year. Center directors are also recognized for professional credentialing achievements and service awards.
“The Small Business Centers, located at all 58 community colleges, are key factors in North Carolina’s economic development, creating more than 750 small businesses in 2014-15 and retaining or creating nearly 3,600 jobs,” said NC Community College Interim System President George Fouts. “I applaud the work of all of our center professionals and offer special congratulations to this year’s award recipients. They are the unsung heroes in local economic development.”
Rookie of the Year
Katy McLean Gould, Haywood Community College
Directors who have been in their position for two years or less are eligible to receive the Rookie of the Year Award. Under Katy McClean Gould’s leadership, the Haywood Community College Small Business Center has increased the number of seminars by 171 percent, the number of attendees by 146 percent, and the number of clients by 69 percent. In the most recent 12-month period, Gould has helped start 32 businesses and has helped area businesses create 56 jobs. Her efforts have resulted in recognition for Waynesville Soda Jerks from the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship and have created capital expansion for her clients, making Haywood County Community College one of the top two NC Rural Center Microenterprise Lending partners in the state.
Innovation Award – Programs and Seminars
Renee Hode, Central Piedmont Community College
Renee Hode adopted new teaching modalities and shifted from seated, classroom instruction only by adding the convenience and flexibility of online training. This change, recommended by CPCC’s SBC Advisory Board and championed by Hode, was quickly implemented to meet the demands of entrepreneurs who, despite their busy schedules, still need and desire to participate in valuable training to start and grow their businesses. This new instructional approach resulted in 31 online offerings for more than 1,000 attendees. To create even stronger value for the center’s clients, the online training was paired with the newly created Virtual Volunteer Counseling Program, increasing the counseling capacity while gaining targeted expertise with no added cost.
Innovation Award – Services and Collaboration
Tiffany Henry, Southwestern Community College
The Small Business Center at Southwestern Community College saw the need to assist local, small-scale farmers with becoming better agri-preneurs in this rural, mountainous area. The center’s active engagement with the Western Carolina University’s NC Food Policy Council and Public Policy Institute, the NC Department of Agriculture, NC Cooperative Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and two local small businesses resulted in a pilot project known as the Appalachian Farm School, helping farmers to become more proficient in business management. The collaboration was also successful in securing $10,000 in grant funds to plan and implement the pilot project, which served 20 farmer entrepreneurs with training, networking, and resource information.
Business Success Story – Most Impact
Kathryn Jenkins, Tri-County Community College
Premium Knife Supply, an existing supplier of high-quality knife blade components, wanted to decrease order times as well as their dependence on overseas manufacturers. The owner wanted to build a new manufacturing company and would need capital to purchase inventory, cover development costs and create a new knife design for the U.S. Armed Services. Tri-County County Community College’s Small Business Center provided assistance with setting up the new company, creating a business plan, and securing funding totaling $200,000. The project resulted in a new business start-up, including job creation and capital formation. It is an excellent example of strong collaboration among a number of economic development partners which also included the Tri-County Center for Applied Technology, the Blue Ridge EMC’s economic development office, Clay County Government and the Southwestern Commission.
Business Success Story – Overcoming Challenges
Deborah Hardison, Richmond Community College
The story of Scoop N Dip Ice Cream Parlor, which opened in March 2015 in Laurinburg, is the story of the owner’s “determination, perseverance and triumph” according to the Small Business Center Director at Richmond Community College. With the assistance of Deborah Hardison, who worked with the client on her goals and her business plan, combined with the knowledge she gleaned through the free seminars offered by the SBC, Shalonda Taylor overcame enormous personal and financial challenges to start her dream business.
Director of the Year
Tamara Bryant, Fayetteville Technical Community College
The Director of the Year is recognized for going above and beyond in providing significant support, time and service to the clients within their center’s service area as well as in support of the SBCN mission at the state level.
Tamara Bryant served as chair of the SBCN Professional Development Committee. In this capacity, she participated as a member of the planning committee of the Fall Joint SBCN/SBTDC professional development conferences, served as a board member and SBC liaison to the NC Community College Adult Educators Association, and provided leadership for the planning committee for all other SBCN professional development activities.
“This is an enormous task, with so many moving parts,” said Interim State Director Anne Shaw, “and Tamara executed beautifully on every one of them. As a result, SBC Directors got the critical training they need to do their jobs and to deliver best service to North Carolina’s entrepreneurs.”
Administrative Support Award
Jerrie Farmer, North Carolina Community College System Office
The Administrative Support Award, a new award in 2015, goes to an individual who has provided excellence in administrative support to the SBCN.
Jerrie Farmer has been a supporter of the SBCN for more than 20 years. For this award, she was recognized for implementing administrative practices to help streamline the annual reporting process for the SBCN. She was also noted for being that true support champion who is the “go to” for critical information and who is always there to address everyday questions and concerns.
Credentialing awards are presented to SBC Directors who have achieved the required training milestones in Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 of the Credentialing program. The credentialing program is designed to offer continuing professional education and ensure compliance with competencies and standards for effective business counseling and training program coordination. For each level, center directors must successfully complete a variety of required trainings and assessments, with increasing complexity at each higher level.
Small Business Center Directors recognized for Credentialing Awards, Level 1, included: Vu Donnie, Rockingham Community College; Theresa Peaden, Wake Technical Community College; and Lori Williams, Sandhills Community College. Level 2 Credentialing Awards were presented to Jeff Neuville, Catawba Valley Community College; Allan Younger, Forsyth Technical Community College; and Wanda Bennett, Carteret Community College. Level 3 Credentialing Awards were presented to Todd Lyden, Bladen Community College; Kim Wiggs Gamlin, Brunswick Community College; Wanda Bennett, Carteret Community College; and Jill Sparks, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.