Nash County Partnerships Help Local Businesses Grow ::

This article was written for our sponsor, Nash County Economic Development.

Local businesses in Nash County are adding another resource to their directory.

The Nash Community College Small Business Center, in partnership with Nash County Economic Development, is spearheading the Nash County Scale Up, a program in which selected businesses will receive business services, training and grants.

Funded through a grant from NC IDEA — a private foundation that supports entrepreneurship statewide — the eight-week Scale Up program will be hyper-focused on strengthening local small businesses in Nash County.

“The Small Business Center and Nash County Economic Development will work to identify businesses that have been in operation for at least one year and help them grow to a seven-figure business or help them employ at least 50 employees in the next five to seven years,” said Tierra Norwood, director of the Small Business Center at Nash Community College. “We will provide them with training as well as technical assistance, and our goal is to work with at least ten companies .”

First, participating companies will receive a needs assessment and audit of current company policies. This will be followed by four weeks of courses focusing on topics such as exporting and importing, employee training, human relations, finance and more. In addition, external contractors will advise, assisting with planning, marketing and website development.

The program will conclude with a networking event and each participating company will receive a grant of $1,500.

Scale Up’s focus on local growth was a major impetus behind NC IDEA’s partnership with the program.

“A lot of the activity that takes place in the entrepreneurial ecosystem is focused on getting started – and it’s good to do that, because people need help getting out of the starting blocks. But this particular partnership working with businesses that have been around for at least a year and helping them accelerate their growth, which has made them stand out from other proposals,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of the NC IDEA Foundation. “We’re confident they know what the greatest needs are in the communities they serve, and they’ve convinced us that’s what they need most.”

Ruhe was also impressed with the program’s use of local resources and leadership – particularly the important role played by Nash Community College.

“I believe our community colleges are one of the most undervalued and underutilized assets in our economy and our communities, so Nash County Economic Development in partnership with Nash Community College is elevating regional assets that have major impact and potential. The community college and especially these small business hubs far exceed their weight – they really are a gift to the ecosystems, and the fact that they’re going to be involved in this work is great,” Ruhe said, “It’s partnerships like this that redefine what economic development best practice can be.”

Through things like needs assessments, the Small Business Center will not only help participating businesses, but can also gain a better understanding of the overall small business ecosystem in the county.

“Having a platform to get businesses to sit down and do a needs assessment helps us see, as an agency that provides resources to small business owners, what we need. and what areas we should be focusing on based on the results,” Norwood said. “With this, we will be able to continue to create content and programs based on what we think Nash County businesses need – and we will, in fact, have all of this information on paper.”

The Small Business Center itself has hundreds of customers and touches dozens of different industries, and Norwood is eager to see what businesses will engage with the Scale Up program, from manufacturers to restaurateurs.

As the relationship between the community college and the economic development center continues to grow, there will undoubtedly be more cohorts – and more innovative entrepreneurship programs – in the county’s future.

“What I hope most is that the people who go through this program will succeed and grow into vibrant businesses that will create lots of income and jobs and have a tangible impact on the community. If they do, then others can look at this and see that you don’t have to be in the Triangle to be a successful big business,” Ruhe said. “We can’t change this narrative until people start to change it. see, and that’s another reason I was excited when this particular grant was all about scaling. I think it will give hope not just to the county, but to the region more broadly.”

This article was written for our sponsor, Nash County Economic Development.