‘Small’ resources loom large
Published 7:33 pm Friday, June 19, 2015
JACKSON – “Mom-and-pop” businesses provide the backbone of employment and shopping opportunities in the Roanoke-Chowan area.
And who does a great job of supporting those small, but important, economic engines other than a Chamber of Commerce and a Small Business Center.
Those latter two entities came together here last week to shine the spotlight on each other when the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual banquet at the county’s Cultural and Wellness Center.
Dan Joyner, a Northampton native currently serving as Director of the Small Business Center at Roanoke-Chowan Community College, served as the banquet’s featured speaker.
At the outset of his presentation, Joyner touted the strengths of the Small Business Centers that dot each of the 58 community colleges statewide.
“The system has now expanded to over 60 sites throughout the state and is known as the most expansive state funded technical assistance program in the United States, having locations within a 30 minute drive of virtually every North Carolinian,” Joyner stressed.
He said it’s the mission of each Small Business Center to increase the success rate and the number of viable small businesses in North Carolina by providing high quality, readily accessible assistance to prospective and existing small business owners which will help create or retain jobs.
The services offered by these Centers make a huge impact on small business growth and job retention.
“We are community-based providers of entrepreneurship training, and offer confidential one-on-one business counseling, referral services and information resources.” he said.
In the last year alone, Joyner said the Center at RCCC offered over 40 free business seminars, presented by qualified consultants and business professionals to over 350 clients. The topics of those free seminars included how to start a business, how to write a business plan, how to finance a business, information on business taxes, marketing strategies, improving personal credit scores and business credit ratings, how to start up a business website, and an introduction to nonprofits and grant writing.
“In addition we provided multi-session, one-on-one confidential business counseling to over 45 clients which in turn helped to create or retain 15-plus jobs with five confirmed new business starts,” Joyner boasted.
Statewide, Joyner said nearly 1,800 new jobs were created; 1,100 jobs were saved/retained; and there were 616 new business startups resulting from business owners interaction with the Centers in their respective areas.
On the other hand, Joyner said there were misconceptions about what services Small Business Centers offer.
“We don’t make loans or award grants, but we do help direct you to those sources,” Joyner noted. “Grants are readily available to anyone for any purpose for those with 501 (c) 3 status. The process for obtaining loans and grants is quick and simple and require less information than commercial banks.
“We do not write business plans for you, but will help you by reviewing those plans,” he added.
What is limitless are the vast resources at the fingertips of Small Business Centers. They include online help as well as assistance from the network of Centers across the state. Other help comes from the Small Business Technology Development Center, Business Link North Carolina, the NC Department of Commerce, and Score Service Corporation of Retired Executives.
“What I’m here for tonight is to spread the word…making our services known to the population. We have the resources, so let us help you,” Joyner concluded.
Also part of the banquet’s agenda was a brief update on Roanoke-Chowan Community College, a presentation made by its president, Dr. Michael Elam.
“We’re doing everything we can to aggressively recruit Northampton County students and adult citizens to enroll in an effort to help grow your community college,” Elam said.
Elam stressed that RCCC enrollment grew by eight percent during the recently completed academic year. Some of that growth was attributed to Northampton County. Elam said 141 of RCCC’s 422 students hail from Northampton.
“That’s the second largest student population we have on our campus, trailing only HertfordCounty,” he noted. “We already have 14 new students from your county, recent high school graduates, who have signed up for classes this coming fall. We provide the services that Northampton County needs.”
Elam added that the RCCC Board of Trustees is committed to raising scholarship money to help local students, to include those from Northampton, afford a quality college education.
The annual banquet also served as the election of new members of the Northampton Chamber’s Board of Directors. There was one spot open this year, filled by Judy Farmer, Advertising Consultant at Roanoke-Chowan Publications.
Also elected were the Chamber’s officers for the new year (effective July 1) – President Sidney Joyner, First Vice President Wendell Edwards, Second Vice President Doug Miller, Secretary Robin Williams, and Treasurer Jim Gossip.
Awards were presented to Gene St. Clair, owner of A&E Restrooms, Inc. (Small Business of the Year), and Lance Jenkins, past President of the Chamber.
Brenda Balmer of Rich Square provided the entertainment.
Judy Collier, Executive Director of the Northampton Chamber, and Sidney Joyner presided over the event.