Dillsboro Business Plan Competition winner to be announced April 17
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.
“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.
Appalachian Women’s Museum calls for community involvement
The Appalachian Women’s Museum has big plans reaching farther than simply educating visitors, but telling the stories of those who made the area what it is today.
“The Mission of the Appalachian Women’s Museum is to gather, preserve, and share the stories of the women of Southern Appalachia,” said Tim Osment, former president and continuing board member of the Appalachian Women’s Museum.
Currently, the physical aspect of the museum is the main focus. Community workdays are scheduled to better preserve AWM’s home in the historic Monteith Farmstead in Dillsboro. The workdays began in early March, coinciding with Women’s History Month. The upcoming workdays will be all day on March 29 and April 19, and are open to anyone who would like to participate.
One of the goals of the Appalachian Women’s Museum is to build community involvement, enriching and enhancing the quality of both the museum and the Dillsboro community. The museum has 27 board members, four committees and one sub-committee, all who are working together with the museum’s vision in mind.
“I think there’s a sense of urgency among all of us to get things moving as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Jessie Swigger, board president of Appalachian Women’s Museum and associate professor of history at Western Carolina University.
The vision of collecting and sharing the stories of the women of Southern Appalachia is something to be proud of. The museum will strive to preserve the rich history of the Appalachian Mountains and its people, both past and present.
“We want people to walk away with the sense of different kinds of lives that women led. There wasn’t just one story, but many stories. Hopefully we will be able to connect past generations with present generations,” said Swigger.
The museum has been a long time coming, facing and overcoming obstacles over the last decade. In 2001, the town of Dillsboro put forth efforts to preserve the Monteith Farmstead, built in 1908, as a Heritage Tourism Site and house the Appalachian Women’s Museum. The farmstead was placed on the National Register of Historic Places seven years later in 2008, but due to economic recession, Dillsboro postponed establishing the museum’s place at the farmstead.
Fortunately, renegotiation in 2012 led to the farmstead becoming a Heritage Tourism Site and the future home of the Appalachian Women’s Museum.
“Ideally, visitors will leave with a sense of not only who people were, but a better sense of who they are and where they come from,” said Swigger.
The board members want to get people talking about the museum and encourage as much involvement as possible. The biggest contribution the community can make to the museum right now is helping with the clean up process and giving financially.