Craven Community College’s (Craven CC) Small Business Center (SBC) recently relocated to the college’s Volt Center campus near downtown New Bern. The SBC’s new location will allow more space to meet with current and prospective small business owners while serving a wider range of clients.
The new location is adjacent to Craven CC’s Workforce Development trades center that offers hands-on training programs in a variety of trades, as well as a makerspace and future economic development programs. This allows the SBC to have a close connection to these programs and their students.
“We anticipate many will want to start their own HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other small businesses,” said Deborah Kania, SBC director. “We are excited to be ready to assist as students complete these trades programs.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many businesses and forced many closures, Kania has been working hard to help local businesses endure these difficult times through specialized training and counseling.
“The biggest challenge we face is to help existing small business owners stay in business during this pandemic,” said Kania. “We are also seeing people laid off from their jobs, and wanting or needing to start a new business. We are trying our best to be responsive and resourceful.”
The SBC received a grant from the state in June for specialized counseling to any business owner impacted by COVID-19. Any current or prospective business owner can receive in-depth confidential counseling, including assistance with startups, loans, legal matters, bookkeeping, social media, marketing, financial fitness and more. These funds are provided at first-come, first-served basis through December 2020.
“To ensure a safe learning or counseling environment, we are asking participants to wear masks and stay home if they are not feeling well,” said Kania. “We are sanitizing offices and classrooms and wearing masks if social distancing is not possible. For anyone who does not feel comfortable with in-person meetings or workshops, we provide online options. We are able to counsel by phone, video conference and email, and all SBCs across the state are offering webinars in a wide variety of topics for starting and operating a business.”
Under the leadership of Kania and assistant Christina Bowman-Murray, the SBC has been recognized for several significant accomplishments. In October 2018, they were presented the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Collaboration and Partnership Award for outstanding efforts to help SBA partners and small businesses in the community. The SBC received the award in part for its role in supporting MCAS Cherry Point in teaching Boots to Business and in assisting with the inaugural business plan competition, Battle for Business. In June 2020, they were recognized as the Havelock Chamber of Commerce’s Business of the Quarter for efforts to assist small businesses during the pandemic.
Craven CC’s award-winning SBC supports the development of new businesses and growth of existing businesses in Craven County. They provide workshops for aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners, personalized small business advising and resources to help people successfully start and operate a small business. The majority of services and workshops are available at no cost. Craven CC’s SBC is among 58 located at community colleges across North Carolina. They are now serving clients at the college’s New Bern, Havelock and Volt Center campuses.
Anyone interested in receiving free assistance is encouraged to go to the SBC website at www.cravencc.edu/sbc and click on the “Request Counseling” link. For questions, call 252-638-1088 or email email@example.com.
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on September 2, 2020.