RALEIGH – The North Carolina Community College System Small Business Center Network announced award recipients at its 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 pleased to recognize the accomplishments of these outstanding small-business center directors and the success of their programs,” said Peter Hans, president of the NC Community College System. “They help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams of starting businesses, and those businesses have a significant impact in their local communities. The small-business centers, located at all 58 community colleges, contribute to North Carolina’s economic development, starting an average of 700 small businesses and creating or retaining more than 3,000 jobs each year. We applaud each of them for the difference they make every day.”
Rookie of the Year
Kristy Rogers Craig, Carteret 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 Kristy Rogers Craig, in just over 18 months, the Carteret Community College Small Business Center served more than 1,250 attendees through 153 entrepreneurship events and counseled 190 new or returning clients. Craig’s activities helped start 31 businesses and create or retain 216 jobs. Craig also worked with her college president to sign the NACCE Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge, demonstrating the college’s commitment to entrepreneurship. She also became certified to teach REAL Entrepreneurship, completed Level 1 and Level 2 credentialing, and created several local collaborations to support entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Innovation Award – Programs and Seminars
Butch Farrah, Richmond Community College
Butch Farrah wanted to offer seminars that were fresh, economically promising, and would deliver results for business owners and entrepreneurs. He started with a simple but unique seminar on starting a drone business. Working with the college’s STEM instructor, Farrah explored the possibility of offering drone instruction to STEM students. Successful completers gained hands-on business experience working with their instructor and were able to become entrepreneurs in the drone industry. The Richmond Community College Foundation approved a grant to launch the program. The program then collaborated with students in Richmond’s business administration program, who are required to complete a capstone project for their degree. In this case, the project is mentoring the students in the STEM program on how to start their business. These same students will also participate in Small Business Center seminars, completing the circle of collaboration.
Innovation Award – Services and Collaboration
Jeff Neuville, Catawba Valley Community College
Jeff Neuville, SBC director at Catawba Valley Community College, created the “Student Entrepreneurship Pipeline,” an intentional series of steps to introduce local high school and community college students to the concepts of entrepreneurship and encourage them to consider business ownership. The pipeline consists of several events, including a “Shark Tank” style business pitch that allows both high school and community college students to compete for cash prizes. Students also participate in the CVCC Entrepreneurship Tour, in which they share their entrepreneurship story, helping them to focus on goal setting and planning. The pipeline culminates with students competing in the SkillsUSA Entrepreneurship Competition, a contest for developing and pitching business plans. Both the high school and CVCC student teams earned gold medals in the state and the national competition, marking the first time one school had ever won gold in both categories. Collaborators include the Small Business Center, local high schools, the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, the L.B. Lane Family Foundation, Chick-fil-A and other local businesses.
Business Success Story – Most Impact
Ben Kish, Blue Ridge Community College
Jim Smeaton spent more than 30 years as a sales and marketing professional before starting Always Best Care Senior Services, providing in-home care for seniors who wish to remain independent and safe in the comfort of their own home. Even with all his experience, Smeaton consistently turned to the Small Business Center at Blue Ridge Community College to expand his business knowledge by attending seminars and participating in one-on-one counseling sessions. He also uses the Small Business Center to critique his annual business plan. As a result, this year Smeaton’s company won the annual business plan competition and was recognized as the Blue Ridge Growth Award Company. The 69-employee company had revenues of more than $1.3 million in 2017, and is expected to grow by another 20 percent over the next year.
Business Success Story – Overcoming Challenges
Gregor Hannibal, Lenoir Community College
Alton “Bud” Cannon injured his back on the job and became disabled. He began looking at self-employment options, including entering the livery business. While the 1950s and 1960s saw several thriving taxicab companies in the Kinston area, those services had dwindled to only a couple of one-car-one-driver concerns. With the current renaissance in hospitality and entertainment venues in downtown Kinston and Lenoir County, Cannon saw a potential need for transportation services in a market that has been dramatically underserved over the past 20 years. But as he researched the feasibility of the business, no one he turned to seemed to know who to talk to, what procedures to follow, the licenses that would be needed or the regulatory agencies to connect with. He also encountered an intimidating list of local ordinances that he saw as potential roadblocks. Determined to move forward, Cannon visited the Lenoir Community College Small Business Center in April 2017. With each successive appointment, he began to believe that with proper planning, he could start a successful business. After six months of planning, Cannon applied for and received his permit to operate his personal vehicle to transport customers. Just a couple of months later, he purchased a dedicated vehicle for the taxi business, and he continues to grow the business and meet his goals.
Director of the Year
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, three directors were recognized for their contributions to the network.
Mark Hagenbuch, Guilford Technical Community College
In addition to serving as director for Guilford Technical Community College’s Small Business Center, Mark Hagenbuch is also the regional director for the Piedmont Triad, providing leadership and guidance to the directors in the region’s seven small-business centers. 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. In the last two years, he has added a monthly webinar to offer additional, timely support of the training needs of SBC directors, and is always available for one-on-one training of new directors to help them get up to speed quickly with this critical management tool. Most recently, he participated in regular meetings to plan for a new client relationship management tool.
Bob Moore, Robeson Community College
Bob Moore, SBC director at Robeson Community College, was recognized for the outstanding contributions he made to the Small Business Center Network during his two terms as chair of the Policy and Procedures Committee. During that time, Moore helped advance key policies to ensure the network’s adherence to high standards and consistency of service delivery. In addition to contributing to the development of policy and guidance, Moore helped the network stay focused on its mission. He is credited with efforts to enhance the network’s performance measurement process, focusing the centers on economic impact to coincide with a laser focus on entrepreneurship.
Tiffany Henry, Southwestern Community College
Tiffany Henry was recognized as Director of the Year for several key contributions in support of activities at the state level. She took on the role of Professional Development Committee Chair in 2017 after being a dedicated member with increasing responsibility for four years. In this role, she managed the logistics for three major professional development conferences, ensuring that center directors receive high quality training that supports credentialing requirements and that also ensures the consistency of programming and operations statewide. She maintains the credentialing records for all 58 centers and creates a seamless process in supporting the planning and collaboration for the network’s joint professional development activities with its sister organization, the Small Business Technology Development Center.
Credentialing and Service Awards
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.
The following small-business center directors were recognized for Level 1 credentials: Callie Northern Herring, Martin CC; Ben Willis, Caldwell CC & TI; Frank Silver, McDowell Tech CC; Laurie Brintle-Jarvis, Wilkes CC; Cherith Roberson, Wake Technical CC; Terri Brown, Central Carolina CC; Teresa Reynolds, Sandhills CC; Butch Farrah, Richmond CC; Kent Hill, Fayetteville Technical CC; Bart Rice, Sampson CC, April Priester, Coastal Carolina CC; Deborah Kania, Craven CC; Mindy Moore, Pamlico CC and Dale Fey, Wayne CC.
Level 2 credentialing awards were presented to Callie Northern-Herring, Martin CC; Ben Willis, Caldwell CC & TI; Mari-Inetta Pavlic, Central Carolina CC; Cherith Roberson, Wake Tech; Terri Brown, Central Carolina CC; Teresa Reynolds, Sandhills CC; Butch Farrah, Richmond CC; April Priester, Coastal Carolina CC; and Deborah Kania, Craven CC.
Level 3 credentialing awards were presented to Ben Willis of Caldwell CC & TI and Mari-Inetta Pavlic of Central Carolina CC.
Service awards recognize the number of years a center director has served the Small Business Center Network. Recognition for 15 years of service was presented to Lentz Stowe, Beaufort CC. Five-year service awards were presented to Ervin Allen, Alamance CC; Allan Younger, Forsyth Tech CC; Katy Gould, Haywood CC; Dan Joyner, Roanoke-Chowan CC; Lisa Rolan, South Piedmont CC; Tiffany Henry, Southwestern CC; Kathryn Jenkins, Tri-County CC; and Melissa Evans, Wilson CC.
Special Recognition from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Charlotte District Office
Deborah Kania, SBC director at Craven Community College, received special recognition from the U.S. Small Business Administration. In a presentation by North Carolina District Director Lynn Douthett, Kania was recognized with the 2018 SBA Award for Collaboration and Partnership.
Kania was selected for the award for developing a strong partnership with the SBA in supporting entrepreneurs in the Craven County service area. Kania made significant contributions to both “Boots to Business” and “Battle for Business,” two signature outreach events conducted in collaboration with the SBA and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point. As a new director, she was quick to recognize the importance of collaborating to best serve transitioning military and did so with great energy and enthusiasm. She managed numerous logistical details, provided business counseling and instruction for program participants, and secured radio air time to enhance the events.