The Wilson Community College Small Business Center places emphasis on entrepreneurship through helping launch startups and working with existing small businesses — and it’s all completely free.
The center provides high-quality, readily accessible education and training, counseling, referrals and information. There’s confidential one-to-one counseling, online webinars and seminars held primarily in the evenings.
Some clients come to the SBC hoping to replace an existing job with a new business, while others are seeking a sideline business to supplement their income.
“We serve Wilsonians and even clients outside of Wilson who come here for work and find us more convenient or who want to start a business here, “said Melissa Evans, SBC director.
During any given year, 120-160 potential or existing business owners from our community visit the college’s Small Business Center for support to evaluate a business idea’s viability, to determine the steps to register a business name, to learn how to reach their target market or for expanding an existing business.
I recently sat down with Melissa Evans and one of her very first clients, Ijeoma Uwakwe. Ijeoma owns and operates a pharmacy located in downtown Wilson — Wilson Value Drug Store. She also sits on the SBC Advisory Board.
“My journey started here,” Ijeoma said. “I had an awesome lady — Melissa Evans — and when I walked through the door, she didn’t shush me away. The thing that struck me the most is that she believed in me. All I knew at the time was that I wanted to open the store. She had all the information and the skills. It was amazing.”
One of the first items on the agenda for an SBC client is to think about your community. Who do you want to serve? How many people? What makes you unique or sets you apart? Then find the right location that makes sense for your business.
The SBC gives clients a format or structure for writing a business plan, ideas for coming up with a name, information about the various business structures, options on who to turn to for financing and so much more.
“Everything you need is right here,” Ijeoma added. “All you need is to know what you want to do. Have a passion. And the rest can be done right here at the Wilson Community College Small Business Center.”
She went on to share, “I came to Melissa because I wanted to open a pharmacy. I had a passion for patient care, and I wanted it to be affordable. I wanted to provide value. The prices are reasonable and competitive with other pharmacies, but that does not mean the quality has been affected. I chose the name ‘Value’ because you’re getting quality at a reasonable price. I provide education, so counseling comes with it. If a patient needs a coupon to help pay for it, we help them find that coupon. We provide medication education and even medication delivery. Wilson Value Drug Store provides value to the community. Not just a discount.”
But her connection to the college didn’t stop after she successfully opened and grew her business. She later came to us, pre-COVID, because she was looking for a student in our pharmacy tech program whose first language was Spanish.
“I was fortunate enough to find a student who graduated from the pharmacy technician program at WCC. Melissa was able to link me up with the instructor of that program, and I was able to recruit a student who spoke Spanish. I wanted to make sure patients were able to communicate and understand how to take their medications. For example, in the midst of COVID, I was so glad I was able to get a Spanish-speaking technician who could help our Spanish-speaking patients with filling out COVID vaccination forms and everything. That was my goal — to make sure nobody is ever excluded when they come to my pharmacy. They have the opportunity to talk to someone that understands them.”
In just eight years of being the college’s SBC director, Melissa has helped 265 business startups. And just last year, she helped 34 get off the ground and running.
“If you have a passion, if you have a plan, if you have a seed…come see Melissa in the WCC SBC, and your plan will come to life,” Ijeoma said.
For more information, contact Small Business Center Director Melissa Evans at 252-246-1232 or visit our website at www.wilsoncc.edu/sbc for a complete list of seminars. #WilsonCC — we make Wilson work.
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