Last week local elected officials and others with a vested interest in the growth and development of the community and its citizens, joined representatives from S.G. Atkins CDC for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Winston-Salem State University Women’s Business Center.
The Women’s Business Center is an extension of the business incubator and development program offered at The Enterprise Center and will offer technical support for women entrepreneurs in the areas of startup, management, marketing, and development, all free of charge.
Participants will also have access to grants, loan programs, certification programs, mentors, and other resources.
The Women’s Business Center was made possible by a grant distributed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) that will cover the cost of the program for five years. There are similar programs sponsored by the SBA in Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville and Durham, but the WSSU Women’s Business Center is the first to be housed and sponsored by a HBCU.
Carol Davis, executive director of the S.G. Atkins CDC (Community Development Corporation) applied for the SBA grant. During the ribbon cutting ceremony last week, Davis said she was excited to see The Enterprise Center grow. The Enterprise Center moved into its current location, 1922 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, in 2011 and today it is home to more than 40 small businesses and nonprofits, as well as the first shared-use kitchen in Forsyth County.
“2021 is our tenth anniversary here at The Enterprise Center so we were already celebrating 10 years, then this fantastic development, so we’re excited,” Davis said.
Dr. Joy Lough, program director of the WSSU Women’s Business Center, said she has always had a passion for helping small business owners. In addition to her experience teaching college level business courses, Dr. Lough also owns a consulting business and is the author of the book, “7 Steps to Success: For the Entrepreneur,” which was recently listed on Amazon’s Best Sellers’ list.
“Seeing my students and seeing my clients get from point A to point Z, it’s a big deal and I enjoy that. I enjoy being a part of the process,” Lough said. “Our mission is to provide technical support for minority business owners, so of course, every year we have a goal to help a certain amount of entrepreneurs, but beyond that I’m really enjoying the planning piece … just being able to help them on their entrepreneurial journey, that is my goal. I want people to leave with a different mindset than when they came in.”
As program director, Dr. Lough is responsible for developing different online courses that business owners will be able to access free of charge. When asked what advice she would give an up-and-coming entrepreneur who is having doubts about taking that leap of faith and going all in on their business venture, Dr. Lough said, “Stay encouraged.”
“First of all, stay encouraged and if you have the passion and that gut feeling that this is what you’re supposed to do, then by all means pursue that, but get the help you need,” she continued. “Don’t think that you have to do this alone … know that there are resources out there to help. Know that there are people rooting for you, all you have to do is ask.”
For more information on the Women’s Business Center, visit The Enterprise Conference and Event Center, 1922 South Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, or call 336-734-6900. A playback of the ribbon cutting ceremony can be viewed on the S.G. Atkins CDC Facebook page.