Six hopeful entrepreneurs are taking advantage of business training provided by local colleges in the Dillsboro Business Plan Competition, and the winner of a $5,000 prize will be announced on April 17.
A project of the Dillsboro/Western Carolina University partnership, the competition is being facilitated through Southwestern Community College’s Small Business Center and WCU’s Small Business and Technology Development Center. This collaborative effort is providing the six contestants with the opportunity of a lifetime by helping them acquire the knowledge and skills to help make their business dreams come true.
“Six is a great number for the amount of contestants, especially considering this is the first year,” said Tommy Dennison, a business counselor for WCU’s SBTDC and co-director of the competition.
While the monetary prize is a great incentive to enter the competition, it may not be the most significant benefit. The contestants have been taking free classes provided by Southwestern Community College since the beginning of January. Some of the classes include Marketing Mix, Business Simulation and Financials for Small Businesses. All of the classes are intended to educate aspiring entrepreneurs who want to learn what it takes to have a successful business.
The final class, Taxes and Bookkeeping in Small Business, was held on March 10. During the coming weeks, the contestants will develop their final business plan and submit their work to a panel of judges.
Each of the judges has a connection to the surrounding community as well as knowledge of building small businesses. The judges are: Mike and Lisa Potts, co-owners of Nancy Tut’s Christmas Shop in Dillsboro; Wendy Cagle, Regional Director for WCU’s SBTDC; Sonja Haynes, Dean of Workforce and Economic Development at SCC; and Joseph Lakatos, Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at WCU.
The judging will be based on essential criteria for successful business plans, such as the excellence of the executive summary, the management team and overall impression.
The winner will be announced at a reception beginning at 4:30 P.M. on April 17 in the lobby of the Burrell Building at SCC.
“With this being such a successful first year, we hope to open up this competition to all of Jackson County next year in hopes to continue to help our region grow,” Dennison said.
For more information about eligibility, guidelines, or sponsoring the competition, contact Dennison at email@example.com or call (828) 227-3504 or Tiffany Henry, director of SCC’s Small Business Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (828) 339-4495.
The Dillsboro/WCU Partnership was established in 2009 to match WCU resources and expertise with Dillsboro’s challenges and opportunities.