Success Story: Helping Minority and Women-Owned Start Ups Get Started
February 2015 Newsletter
If building a successful business were as simple as having a good idea and putting in the requisite hard work, then the start-up world would look much more diverse. The fact of the matter is new businesses need support in order to grow. It takes capital, workforce, and office space to help most businesses succeed. In some parts of the country and for some populations, those things are relatively easy to come by. But for many of the budding entrepreneurs in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, those resources didn’t exist.
The City of Winston-Salem was heavily affected by downturns in the tobacco and textile industries. Thousands of workers had been laid off, and the displaced workers created greater competition for available jobs in the service industry. The region realized it needed to create new entrepreneurial opportunities for start-up businesses. That’s where the Enterprise Center came in. It sought to expand or recruit new business incubator prospects.
In 2013, EDA invested $1.2 in Winston-Salem State University and the S.G. Atkins Community Corporation of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to renovate the lower level of the existing Enterprise Center to expand its successful business incubation program. The program is designed to create and foster an environment which supports and grows small business, focusing on the urban, minority, and economically disadvantaged populations, leading to long-term economic transformation. The incubation program expands and recruits new entrepreneurial opportunities for start-up business in industries including information technology, healthcare, and human service fields.
And the plan is working. Currently, the Enterprise Center houses eighteen minorities and women owned businesses, which have generated $1.7 million in the community.
The mission of The Enterprise Center is to be a catalyst for business and community collaborations and provide resources and support for “green” ventures. The center even has a LEED Silver Certification and emphasizes sustainability in its practices and processes.
The Enterprise Center offers start-up and emerging companies a low-cost office space and exceptional level of support from the business professionals and organizations as well as faculty from WSSU. It offers access to an array of services, including workshops and legal services, one-on-one mentoring and market support. On-site partners include WSSU Center for Entrepreneurship, Forsyth Tech Small Business Center, Wake Forest University Community Law and Business Clinic, Microenterprise Loan Program, and the North Carolina Central University.
Most importantly, the Enterprise Center offers minorities and women in the Winston-Salem area a chance to have their good ideas and hard work become innovative, successful businesses that help their community’s economy flourish.