SANFORD - Small business owners got a close-up look at the Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center's new location during a Nov. 21 Open House.
The SBC for Lee County moved in July from the college's Sanford campus to the North Carolina School of Telecommunications in the Lee County Industrial Park.
The open house was held in conjunction with the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce's AM Buzz monthly networking event. Approximately 30 small business owners came to the early morning event to see the new SBC office and to network with other civic and business leaders in the community before heading off to work.
Kelly Klug, sole proprietor of Lighthouse Documentation and Training, a business writing, networking and communications firm, is very familiar with the college's Small Business Center.
"I certainly got my start in North Carolina through the CCCC Small Business Center," Klug said. "When I moved here from Pennsylvania, it helped me learn what I needed to do to register my business, and helped introduce me to people and organizations in the community such as the Economic Development Corporation, civic clubs and other business owners. I'd say that the Small Business Center helped me increase my business by 50 percent."
SBC Director Mike Jones explained that the mission of the Small Business Center at the college is to increase the success rate and the number of viable small businesses in Lee, Harnett and Chatham counties by providing quality, accessible assistance to prospective and existing small business owners. Through entrepreneurship training, one-on-one business counseling, referrals and information, the Center helps to increase job creation and retention in the community.
Jones said the CCCC Center's new location at the School of Telecommunications provides numerous advantages.
"This is a newer facility with a more professional image and more meeting space," he said. "Our main purpose in hosting this Open House was to introduce our new location to the community and to highlight some of the Small Business Center clients that I have worked with."
Jones, who previously worked with the Pamlico Community College Small Business Center and the Department of Commerce in Edenton also owned a human resources consulting firm with his wife in Winston-Salem. He has consulted with small business owners from the conception of the business to the development of a business plan. One of Jones' success stories is Taylor Automotive, in Sanford.
Founded in 1983 by David Taylor, Tracy Magill and his wife Tammy bought the automotive business in November 2013. They used the services of the SBC throughout the process.
"We've used the SBC to determine how to best perform a lot of everyday business practices such as accounting, where to spend our money, and how and where to advertise," Magill said. "We've found it beneficial to learn what practices other successful businesses have put into place and how we can learn from their experience. We heard about the SBC and the free classes it offers to small business owners, and we didn't hesitate to sign up. Mike Jones has been a great member of our team. I would recommend the SBC to anyone who is thinking of starting a business."
Jones said his favorite part of the job as director of the college's SBC is working with entrepreneurs.
"I like meeting people who have a great idea for a business and helping them bring their ideas to fruition in a successful way," he said. "It gives me a lot of satisfaction."
One such client is J.J.'s Place, in Sanford, a landscaping nursery that grew from a piece of vacant land.
"This young couple met with me about some land they had inherited and didn't know what to do with," Jones said. "The wife had a degree in horticulture and wanted to open up her own nursery. I advised them about taxes, permits and startup expenses. They've been open since September and are doing very well."
A total of 800 small business owners and prospective owners attended CCCC Small Business Center's entrepreneurial seminars in 2012-2013, Jones said. The center counseled 400 clients and helped to create 70 new jobs. Jones believes the new location at the N.C. School of Telecommunications will only build on that success.
There are 58 Small Business Centers in North Carolina. Each is associated with a state community college and receives funding from the state to provide services to business owners. In the past year, the N.C. Small Business Center Network sponsored 3,781 entrepreneurship training events and helped to create 1,732 jobs. It is estimated that more than 1,000 jobs were saved and 528 new businesses were started in North Carolina.
For more information about the CCCC's Small Business Center in Lee County, contact Mike Jones at 919-718-7424 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Mike Jones, director of Central Carolina Community College's Small Business Center, works with would-be or current small business entrepreneurs to help them be successful. For more information about the Small Business Center in Lee County, contact Jones at 919-718-7424 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.