We've had quite a few success stories of late telling the brave and often inspiring tales of bright, focused entrepreneurs lighting up empty storefronts with open signs and welcome mats. The revitalization of our Main Street and beyond has been front page news for some time now. Today our community offers services and goods previously only available online or an hour's drive away. And although we love these tales of prosperity, especially when it happens in our own town, this blog is about those reading this from home or their desk job in another town they desperately want to leave to launch their own dreams. So Please share.
We Grow Together!
While businesses such as Turtle Laboratories, Spruced Boutique, Moldz Candy Shop, Greybeard Realty, and Mountain Marquee Cinemas inspire us, they all have something in common. They didn't do it alone! They have a community that pulls together, creates connections, works to eliminate roadblocks, and cheers them on. They have city and county governments that have open door policies when it comes to those wanting to open and operate a new business in McDowell County. They have the Marion Business Association and its free Growing Entrepreneurs Marion program that teaches one what it takes to start and maintain a healthy business and even offers grants to graduates. They have the McDowell Marketing Masterminds that welcomes all business owners (current and potential) to learn about marketing their business or product through all genre of media. And they have the Chamber of Commerce that works on several fronts to foster economic growth (MEDA), create work pathways for our youth (CARP), provide leadership training (LINC), promote our businesses, advocate for business-friendly policies, and promote and facilitate health in the workplace (WorkPlace Wellness).
We are a rural community that has garnered statewide attention for our innovation and our symbiotic approach to managing our community. As we've all watched neighboring communities win "Greatest Place to Retire," "Beer City USA," and "Best Outdoor City", we've been working quietly and diligently building a solid growth foundation. It hasn't gone unnoticed. In 2017 we were awarded the North Carolina Governor's Award for Excellence for Innovative Partnerships. Our WorkPlace Wellness program has expanded regionally and is being watched carefully by the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. We won the 2018 Small Town of the Year Award from the North Carolina Rural Center and are up for another award to be announced in the spring. I mention these not to boast, but to bring this work to the attention of those in our community that think McDowell doesn't have much to offer.
We recently conducted a Ribbon Cutting for Studio K (formerly Magic Act) honoring 21-year-old Katelyn Edwards, a native of McDowell who earned her associate's degree in cosmetology before graduating from McDowell High School. She not only owns the business, but she also owns the building. Her strength of purpose and determined spirit coupled with the resources available in McDowell enabled her to achieve this level of success. This is what's possible right here in our community. And she is just one example in a line of bright, motivated individuals that are creating positive movement in the county.
The Chamber of Commerce is here for the betterment of our community. We work with large manufacturers providing the same resources and tools that we do the independent operators and those looking to start or move their business here. Whether you already own a business and need assistance or guidance or are looking to launch something new, the above resources along with those listed below are available to you--most for free. Dream Big, Work Hard, Go Far--But first, come visit us!
SCORE: SCORE counselors provide no-cost small business mentoring, advice, and seminars to help you better operate your small business. SCORE is a great resource to utilize when starting your own small business. Nearly 135,000 entrepreneurs in Region IV were assisted by SCORE volunteers this past year. The Chamber can also help arrange workshops and panel discussions with SCORE counselors.
Small Business Development Centers: SBDC's are located throughout every state. These centers offer no-cost counseling for existing small business owners. Nearly 70,000 small business owners were counseled just last year in the Southeast Region alone.
Women's Business Centers: The WBC's offer counseling, mentoring services as well as educational programs and networking events for women-owned small businesses (all entrepreneurs). Nearly 22,000 women entrepreneurs were trained and counseled through WBC's across the Southeast last year.
Veteran Business Outreach Centers: VBOC's are located strategically across the Southeast to service Veteran entrepreneurs every step of the way. Last year, VBOC's in the Southeast counseled and trained nearly 7,000 veteran entrepreneurs; assisting them in reaching and surpassing their entrepreneurial goals.
McDowell Tech Small Business Center:
The purpose of the Small Business Center is to increase the success rate of small businesses in McDowell County and the surrounding counties by assisting prospective small business operators to reach their full potential by utilizing all resources available through the Small Business Cent