Small-business centers, directors receive awards

Small-business centers, directors receive awards

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 10:13am

RALEIGH - The North Carolina Community College System Small Business Center Network announced award recipients at a recent conference in Concord.

The annual statewide awards honor small-business centers and center directors for Innovation, Service/Collaboration and Programs/Seminars; Business Success Story (Most Impact and Overcoming Challenges); as well as State Director's Award and Rookie of the Year.  Center directors are also recognized for years of service and professional credentialing.

"We're very proud of these outstanding small-business center directors and the success of their programs," said Jennifer Haygood, acting president of the NC Community College System.  "They make a significant difference in their local communities, helping entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of starting businesses.  The small-business centers, located at all 58 community colleges, are key factors in North Carolina's economic development efforts, creating more than 683 small businesses in 2016-17 and creating and retaining 3,837 jobs. We applaud each of them for the significant impact they make each and every day."

Rookie of the Year 

Allen Cook, Mayland 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 the leadership of Allen Cook, over the last two years, the Mayland College Small Business Center served over 690 attendees in 115 entrepreneurship events.  Cook created a number of successful partnerships with various market segments, including his work with the Toe River Arts Council for which he established a seminar series titled "The Business Side of Art." Another significant partnership was established with the Downtown Entrepreneurial Assistance Program in which prospective businesses gained eligibility for startup grants by completing the SBC Entrepreneurship Certificate.  The SBC Certificate programs have become integral to the center's economic impact results as they contributed to the launch of three new start-ups in the past year. Cook has also been successful in establishing internal collaboration with college programs such as cosmetology, the business curriculum programs and continuing education programs.  All these efforts led to the creation and retention of 92 jobs for small business clients counseled through the Mayland SBC. 

Innovation Award - Programs and Seminars 

Renee Hode, Central Piedmont Community College 

Renee Hode learned that "Shark Tank" might come to Charlotte and immediately went into action, working hard to get the open call for the Central Piedmont Community College Small Business Center.  "The chance to leverage this well-known TV show to gain exposure for the SBC, CPCC and the greater Charlotte entrepreneurial partners was phenomenal," Hode said.  "Hosting the open call provided a unique chance to also offer specialized training and one-on-one coaching to help local entrepreneurs prepare for what could potentially be a life-changing opportunity on 'Shark Tank.'"  In the weeks prior to and even on the day of the casting call, the SBC offered numerous workshops to help individuals prepare, resulting in 289 verified attendees, many of which had never visited or even knew about the Small Business Center.  By hosting the "Shark Tank" casting call, the center was able to heighten brand awareness through strategic social media posts and community and business partnerships, TV and print media, as well as public service announcements.  Also important was the opportunity that clients were provided to get their businesses in front of investors and connect them to local resources.  "'Shark Tank' amplified Charlotte's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, heightened community knowledge of the SBC's programs and services, and served as an innovative way to connect entrepreneurs to the many resources available to provide ongoing support," Hode said. 

Innovation Award - Services and Collaboration 

Katy Gould, Haywood Community College; Tiffany Henry, Southwestern Community College; and Kathryn Jenkins, Tri-County Community College 

The small-business centers at Haywood, Southwestern and Tri-County community colleges formed a three-way collaboration to launch The Rural Food Business Assistance Project, a special initiative created by The Rural Center and backed by a USDA Rural Business Development grant.  The project built regional support networks for local farmers, value-added processors and food service businesses throughout North Carolina, ultimately developing the agricultural pipeline in each region and creating successful and thriving agribusinesses across rural North Carolina. Divided into three regions, these three colleges comprised the technical assistance and small-business assistance arm of the Western Region, with leadership provided by the Southwest Commission.  The program offered training scholarships for farm and food business development classes, assessment of entrepreneurial skills and readiness, connections to a regional food business support network, business coaching and access to capital. Connecting resource providers in a wealth of aspects pertaining to agriculture and small-business development, the project brought organizations together that formerly operated in silos, for the betterment of agribusiness. 

Business Success Story - Most Impact 

Martha Larson, Davidson County Community College 

Kathy Hatfield, owner of Almost Home Group, is a story of business success, community involvement and service.  Hatfield purchased a home in Thomasville in 2011 to house Alzheimer's patients in a residential, home-like setting after her own experience with a grandparent who suffered from the disease.  After the death of her family member, Hatfield started the journey to provide a home-based care center for people with memory-deficit illnesses.  She started with one resident and began the process for licensing her home for additional residents.  Today, Almost Home has three residential sites and a staff of 46. The Small Business Center at Davidson County Community College helped Hatfield with accounting, bookkeeping, marketing and human resources.  She received training that has helped her to better manage her cash flow, allowing her to grow the business.  Hatfield now mentors other SBC clients who want to start the same type of business and presents at events.  She consistently attends seminars and networking events and has been featured in promotional efforts for the college and the center.  This story demonstrates a strong relationship between the client and the Small Business Center, resulting in success. 

Business Success Story - Most Impact 

Tanya Weary, Vance-Granville Community College

After numerous turns in the proverbial road to business ownership, Josh Boyd and Jonathan Weary invested their hard-earned money to open Precision Automotive Repair LLC in Oxford.  With a commitment to high quality and affordable service, they experienced steady growth and in November 2016, the owners became aware of the opportunity of a lifetime - the opportunity to purchase the old Ford dealership. Knowing this opportunity for growth would require additional financing, Boyd turned to the Small Business Center at Vance-Granville Community College to help him tune up his business plan and update the financial projections, recraft the marketing plan and strategize an expansion implementation plan.  He also needed to carefully weigh the risks and rewards of growth.  With the assistance of the SBC, Precision Automotive secured financing to purchase and renovate the building.  In addition, the company hired four full-time employees and one part-time employee.  Further, the new facility allowed for the body shop to remain in place, and it also houses a heating and air company.  Precision Automotive's former location is now home to a window-tinting business.  All in all, this expansion led to four viable business enterprises for Oxford. 

Business Success Story - Overcoming Challenges 

Barbara Hall, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College 

Antoinette Allison, owner of construction staffing firm K&A Staffing, attributes her success to the steadfast help of SBC Director Barbara Hall. K&A Staffing places temporary labor at sites such as schools, a hotel, storage units, a water treatment plant and a gas station.  But there was a time when Allison didn't know if she would survive enough emotional trauma for two lifetimes.  She survived physical abuse, the emotional trauma of the murder of a family member, divorce and financial destitution.  Determined to press forward, Allison decided to combine her experience in construction staffing with the knowledge she gained in general contracting to start her own construction staffing business.  That's when she turned to the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus for help.  The center guided her through the startup process and helped her establish the business.  She gained assistance with marketing, promotion and certification as a historically underutilized business.  

Director of the Year 

Mark Hagenbuch, Guilford Technical Community College 

The Director of the Year is recognized for going above and beyond in providing significant support, time and service to clients in the center's service area as well as in support of the Small Business Center Network mission at the state level. During the network's recent excellence awards presentation, two high-performing directors were recognized for their contributions to the network.

Mark Hagenbuch, in addition to serving as director for Guilford Technical Community College's Small Business Center, is also the regional director for the Piedmont/Triad, providing leadership and guidance to the directors in the seven small-business centers in that region.  Hagenbuch also provides oversight, training and troubleshooting support for the network's client management system.  In these two additional leadership roles, Hagenbuch is often called upon to dedicate additional resources of time and expertise.  He is always up for the challenge and delivers solutions with a rare combination of credibility and humor.  The ability for the SBCN to successfully record and publish its strong performance outcomes is largely due to the support provided by Hagenbuch, which is considered to be a "life-saver" by many of his colleagues who are the beneficiaries of his assistance.   

Director of the Year 

Todd Lyden, Bladen Community College 

The SBCN is a network of 58 locally operated small-business centers that provide uniquely tailored programs to meet the needs of the diverse population of entrepreneurs across the state.  To ensure delivery of both high-quality programs and consistency of content and service, the network must invest in ongoing professional development for its directors.  Todd Lyden served as the chair of the Professional Development Committee for two years, coordinating both fall and spring conferences, while also juggling the responsibility for maintaining the credentialing records for the entire organization. Lyden is credited with helping to create the network's first "paperless" professional development conference with the addition of a conference app, saving time and financial resources associated with printing.  And, because of his dedication and expertise, he was then rewarded by being asked to serve as a regional director in a region dominated by many new directors with less than two years of experience.  And, while he is busy with all these other duties, he also maintains the LinkedIn group for the SBCN.  Lyden's leadership is highly valued and the SBCN is better as a result of his strong contributions. 

Boots on the Ground Award 

Shareen Berkowitz, Pitt Community College 

Shareen Berkowitz, business counselor at Pitt Community College, was recognized for providing strong leadership on behalf of the Small Business Center Network at the local level for a major network project.  In this instance, Berkowitz ensured the success of the network's professional development conference through her skillful management of all conference logistical details, which involved months of research and planning and the navigation of a variety of new processes in contracts administration.  

Credentialing and Service Awards 

The SBCN also presented its Credentialing and Service Awards at its fall professional development conference.

Credentialing awards are presented to small-business center directors who have achieved the required training milestones in Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 of the credentialing program.  Small-business center directors recognized for Level 1 were:  April Scott, Brunswick CC; Becki McPherson, Southeastern CC; Dale Badgett, Surry CC; Jerry Coleman, Cape Fear CC; Jessica McDaniel, Montgomery CC; Jody Blackwell, Piedmont CC; Kristy Rogers Craig, Carteret CC; and Lee Woodard, James Sprunt CC.  Level 2 credentialing awards were presented to Allen Cook, Mayland CC; April Scott, Brunswick CC; Becki McPherson, Southeastern CC; Dale Badgett, Surry CC; Jerry Coleman, Cape Fear CC; Jessica McDaniel, Montgomery CC;  Kristy Rogers Craig, Carteret CC; and Steve Padgett, Cleveland CC. Level 3 credentialing awards were presented to Allan Younger, Forsyth Technical CC;  Becki McPherson, Southeastern CC; Dale Badgett, Surry CC; Jeff Neuville, Catawba Valley CC; and Jessica McDaniel, Montgomery CC. 

Service Awards recognize the number of years a center director has been a part of the Small Business Center Network.  Recognition for 10 years of service was presented to Greg Hannibal, Lenoir CC.  Five-year service awards were presented to Duane Adams, Asheville-Buncombe Technical CC; Faye Bishop, Isothermal CC; Jeff Neuville, Catawba Valley CC; LaShon Harley, Durham Technical CC; Martha Larson, Davidson County CC; Tanya Weary, Vance-Granville CC; and Todd Lyden, Bladen CC. 

Special Recognition from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Charlotte District Office 

Jerry Coleman, SBC director at Cape Fear Community College, received special recognition from the U.S. Small Business Administration.  In a presentation by North Carolina District Director Lynn Douthett, Coleman was recognized with the 2017 SBA CAP Award for Collaboration and Partnership. 

Coleman was selected for the award for the outstanding job he has done to develop a proactive working partnership with the SBA Wilmington satellite office and other partners in the surrounding counties.  He has counseled and supported startup small businesses from the community and referrals from the SBA, helping the clients move forward with their business idea. In addition, in his short tenure, he has been a leading member of the Wilmington Coalition startup in 2017.