• 72°

Focused on small business

JACKSON – Northampton County’s annual Chamber of Commerce banquet brought together a variety of business leaders, elected officials, and local supporters here on Thursday, June 13.

The evening event provided good food, entertainment, networking opportunities, door prizes, and a presentation by guest speaker Mark Alt. The Chamber also conducted its yearly business meeting to reelect officers and nominate a new member to join the chamber board.

This year, Jonelle Little was nominated to join in place of Douglas Miller, who is retiring from Northampton County Public Schools. Miller was presented with an award by Chamber Director Judy Collier to recognize his dedication and support during his time on the board.

Drake Construction received the Small Business of the Year award from the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce at its annual banquet held at the Cultural and Wellness Center in Jackson on June 13. Pictured here for the presentation, from left, are Chamber Director Judy Collier, Polly and Devin Drake, and Chamber President Freda Wright. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

Collier also presented awards for Small Business of the Year, which went to Devin and Polly Drake of Drake Construction, and Corporate Business of the Year, which was received by Rich Square Nursing and Rehabilitation.

Eleven businesses were recognized as new members of the Chamber this year, including Reyes Lawn Services, Halifax Works Healthcare Express, Jackson Food Fresh, John 3:16 Center, Littles Small Engines, Burnette Trucking Company, Kindred Spirits Vintage Shop, New Dixie Oil, Backwoods Bait & Tackle, Legal Aid of NC, and Roanoke Rapids Savings Bank.

Patrice Jordan from Roanoke Electric Cooperative made a brief presentation to award the Chamber of Commerce $250 to use for their annual Fourth of July event.

The evening’s entertainment was provided by “Eyes of Emeline,” three local sisters, occasionally accompanied by their brother, who perform a mix of gospel and country favorites along with original songs.

Alt, who serves as the Director of the Small Business Center at Roanoke-Chowan Community College, was the keynote speaker to wrap up the annual event. Alt relocated to Murfreesboro when his wife took a teaching position at Chowan University. Before that, the couple lived in several states across America as well as many different countries around the world.

Alt is a certified project manager and has worked in operations for companies such as Target, Best Buy, Goodyear, and Probuild. But now in his new position he helps support and develop businesses in the local area.

“Directing the Small Business Center over the past five months makes me realize I am now in the referral business,” he said at the beginning of his speech. “I want you to come to me if you need help with a business, whether you’re starting a business or running one.”

In addition to one-on-one talks to direct people to the help they need, the Small Business Center provides a variety of free seminars for people to learn more about every aspect of running a business. The seminars cover topics ranging anywhere from advertising and social media to bookkeeping and business taxes.

The Corporate Business of the Year award was presented to Rich Square Nursing and Rehabilitation. Accepting the award from Collier are Executive Director Freda Wright and several of her staff members. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

“Now, I don’t teach all those seminars,” Alt stated. “I get money from the state to secure the best professional speakers I can find to teach these for you.”

Seminars are held at the RCCC Ahoskie campus, but Alt said if there was enough interest in a certain area, he could also arrange seminars to take place elsewhere.

“We want to come to where you need us,” he explained.

Alt wrapped up his presentation by detailing several projects currently underway at the community college, such as expansion of their CDL program and basic law enforcement training. The school is also planning to branch out to satellite locations in Northampton, Hertford, and Bertie counties.

“Whatever your needs, please let me help you,” Alt concluded.