Tentative plans to offer helpful business knowledge to small owners will be provided in the virtual realm and through ‘resource centers’ in community mainstays.
A Feb. 9 brainstorming session between small business owners and economic development advocates at Blue Ridge Electric’s Ashe Office fostered numerous solutions to aid struggling business ventures in an ailing economy. The purpose of such a meeting stemmed from voiced concern from local merchants who are reporting lower numbers and fewer customers.
Cabot Hamilton from the Ashe Chamber of Commerce, Chris Robinson of the Ashe Campus of Wilkes Community College, and Herman Metzler from the region’s SCORE branch in addition to half a dozen business owners collaborated to generate ideas that would ensure small business owners are in the know in terms of where they can find help in struggling times. Director of Agency Development and Training for Wilkes Community College Phyllis VanHoy facilitated the meeting.
One of the initial suggestions laid onto the table came from the chamber of commerce. Executive Director Cabot Hamilton stated that the creation of a set of brochures to provide a list of resources for small business owners to contact in struggling times would be pivotal to their survival. Hamilton went on to explain that the chamber would work to minimize the duplication of material already in existence at the Ashe County Library and Job Link. Finalized plans for the creation of the brochures have not been announced.
Chamber personnel are currently in the process of creating a clickable ‘button’ on the chamber’s Web site which would help redirect small business owners to helpful resources and links. Hamilton also said that there has been some discussion about the creation of a small resource center in the chamber’s office to point prospective business owners in the right direction in terms of how to avoid potential pitfalls in the establishment of any new business.
The Ashe County Public Library will also provide a variety of print and electronic resources to assist various aspects of the local economy. A statement from the library disclosed that once the renovated facility opens in June it will provide a variety of print and electronic resources to support entrepreneurs, business owners, individual investors, and job seekers.
The new center will provide information on topics such as accounting, business law, business plans, company information, cover letters, interviewing, resumes, investment management, finance, marketing and other information pertaining to employment and business ventures, a press release said.
Trained professional librarians will also be on hand to assist those who use the resources. County Librarian Jim McQueen stated that the center will be funded by Carolina West Wireless.
In order to allocate the necessary funds to make the Business Reference Center a reality, the library is currently in the process of applying for a Library Services and Technology Act Strengthening Public and Academic Library Collections Grant. The grant will be used to purchase a collection of books for the new center, McQueen said. Hamilton said he has written a letter of support for the grant application.
In coming editions, the Post will delve deeper into how small business can keep their heads above water with the recent onset of a national recession. Emphasis on what local organizations are doing to assist struggling franchises will be highlighted. Personal accounts of how individual businesses are coping with the reeling economy will be examined in the latter part of the series.
In Tuesday’s edition, the Post will look at how the Ashe Campus of Wilkes Community College will provide seminars that supply tips to potential industrialists on small business development, financing, and planning.