Staples to head COA Small Business Center | Local News

The former president of the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce will take over as director of the Small Business Center at College of The Albemarle beginning Jan. 1.

COA announced Wednesday that Holly Staples has been named to head the state-funded agency that offers services to small businesses such as help with marketing, sales, bookkeeping and management.

“I am so excited to have Holly join the COA family,” COA President Jack Bagwell said in a press release. “She brings a tremendous network of connections and a deep understanding of the local community to the work she will be doing for COA.”

Staples will succeed Ginger O’Neal, the SBC’s longtime director who is retiring.

Bagwell described the Small Business Center as “invaluable” to the community college’s efforts providing access to the “expertise and training needed by area businesses and industries.”

“Holly’s leadership will be counted on to help us to continue to provide the excellent service and network that our small businesses need to thrive in our ever-changing world,” he said.

Staples, president of the Elizabeth City Area Chamber of Commerce since April 2018, announced in November that she would be leaving at the end of the year. Staples said at the time she was leaving “to explore a new opportunity” but wasn’t ready then to say what it would be.

She expressed excitement about her role at COA in Wednesday’s press release.

“As the new director of the Small Business Center, I am excited and hopeful for all that is to come,” she said. “With COA’s impeccable reputation and my experience in the business community, I know we will champion small businesses in remarkable ways. It is an honor to serve the COA community in a new and exciting capacity.”

Staples holds a bachelor of arts degree in history with a minor in business administration from East Carolina University.

According to COA, the SBC is part of the statewide Small Business Center Network and its services include:

• Providing confidential one-on-one counseling.

• Providing training and technical assistance for starting a business.

• Hosting business skills seminars, workshops and courses.

• Providing resource and referral services.

• And hosting a small business library.