In 2014, The North Carolina Small Business Center Network (NCSBCN) reached a 30-year milestone of assisting start-ups and small businesses with strategies for success, avoiding failure and managing growth. Like the other 57 community colleges in N.C., Craven Community College’s (CCC) Small Business Center (SBC) is a free, community-based resource for training, counseling, referrals and information.
“Our attendance was up 40 percent last year with 1,065 participants attending 65 workshops and networking events,” said Rebecca Moorer, SBC interim director. She added, “Based on interest and demand, we’ve added new workshops that focus on helping existing businesses and nonprofits.”
Moorer said that three of the 20 businesses started last year through the SBC were nonprofit organizations. “During Nonprofit Awareness Month in November, we have scheduled new workshops for November 3-5, such as ‘How to Start a Nonprofit and Grant Writing 101’,” said Moorer.
Each fall and spring, the SBC runs an entrepreneur academy certificate program which is designed to prepare aspiring entrepreneurs and assist current business owners. This 30-hour academy consists of 11 workshops held 6-9 p.m., every Tuesday and Thursday, from September 15 – October 15. Some workshop topics include financing, managing cash flow, legal regulations and marketing.
One of the entrepreneurs who benefitted from the spring 2015 entrepreneur academy was David Zink. He is the owner of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches located at 1809 South Glenburnie Road in New Bern. Originally from the Detroit, Mi., area, Zink followed his parents to New Bern from New Jersey after he changed careers. He personally liked Jimmy John’s, and wanted to open franchises in eastern North Carolina. Zink currently has 23 employees at his New Bern location, and plans to open additional locations.
“I learned a lot from the entrepreneur academy, especially about legal regulations, funding and the realities of running a business,” said Zink. He added, “I didn’t have to spend a lot of money and time to find the expert advice I needed.” Fellowship as well as education is very important to Zink. Therefore, Zink continues to attend workshops and monthly roundtables.
On the last Wednesday of every month, the SBC holds its Small Business Roundtable. It includes a 30-minute “business tune-up” presentation and discussion, and then an hour of networking time where business owners can help each other by sharing experience and advice.
The SBC also offers free, confidential business counseling. In the previous year, 102 clients received 191 hours of counseling. Counseling appointments can be booked through the SBC website.
In addition to its regular programming, the SBC is working with the City of New Bern, Craven County, Craven 100 Alliance and Swiss Bear Development Corporation to help establish The Entrepreneur Center of Craven County (TEC3). The SBC plans to move from its current location at CCC’s New Bern campus to the TEC3 location at 501 Broad Street in 2016.
For more information about SBC, visit the college’s website at Small Business Center or contact Moorer at (252) 638-1166.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.