Determined clients start businesses amid pandemic

2020-2021 SBC Clients

From July 2020 until June 2021, during a fiscal year of COVID-19 struggles, the Wilson Community College Small Business Center assisted many brave entrepreneurs who forged ahead during the pandemic to start 37 new businesses.

Early on in the pandemic, the SBC received CARES Act funds to support the increased demand for both Small Business Administration disaster assistance programs and for new counseling assistance for those considering startup due to being displaced from a job or for those who had delayed startups due to uncertainty from the pandemic.

“We chose to hire some of our long-term SBC instructors who are trusted experts in their fields, and we paired them with existing and new clients to help them weather the crisis and build resiliency in their businesses,” said Melissa Evans, Wilson Community College’s SBC director.

CARES Act support was provided under the SBC’s Reboot, Recover, Rebuild Pandemic Counseling Program and included startup, legal, accounting, marketing and government contracting counseling.

Among the small businesses helped was 10-year-old Jayla Kelis Forsythe, probably the youngest SBC client ever, who sought assistance with the support of her mom.

Jayla wrote the book “It’s Not Nice to Be a Bully” at the young age of 8. It’s now sold at Books-a-Million, Amazon and Walmart.

“I found great advice and resources for my startup, which included business networking opportunities,” Jayla said.

Barbara White, a recipient of the R3 counseling, said, “With the help of the SBC services, I have been able to establish multiple sources of income, namely an art gallery, art studio space and an Airbnb.”

Napolean Brown, who also received R3 marketing counseling in addition to direct SBC counseling, said, “The SBC believed in me and worked with me to achieve my goals, and I’m looking forward to giving back to my community as a licensed, registered barber.”

Others, like Grace LaHay, found specifics on how to register for an EIN and domain name and information on preparing a cash flow spreadsheet.

Another SBC client, Jasper Allen, said, “The SBC assisted me with knowledge to properly start my business through counseling, and I would not be where I am now if not for the professionalism of the SBC.”

Free online access to webinars has helped Jay’Vin Finch as he continues to grow his business and refers to his webinar notes regularly.

Tracy Woolard, who started an online yoga program, found the SBC was committed to her success in Wilson as she was provided resources to improve her marketing strategy. Likewise, Charles Cooper found assistance with a website, and Michael Eatmon found that his business expanded beyond Wilson County due to marketing assistance.

And international recognition came to Carola Jones, who learned much about promoting her products on Instagram and through a blog from SBC marketing webinars. She credits what she learned from the webinars for her participation in four international fashion week events and for two artists-in-residence awards.

“I owe all of my national and international experiences to the skills I learned and the support I received from Melissa Evans and the SBC,” she said.

Christina Campbell commented, “The SBC helped make all the paperwork much more understandable, and I have recommended the webinars to fellow business owners.”

Similarly, Cassidy Lucas and Lynnette Anderson, who independently found new insights into what they needed to turn their business dreams into reality, also attested to the importance of the SBC’s mission to increase the success rate and viability of small businesses. They have each recommended our program to others seeking to start or grow an existing business.

“It has indeed been our privilege to serve each of these business owners by encouraging them from the first point of contact — toward startup and beyond — as they build successful businesses,” said Evans.

For more information on the WCC Small Business Center, visit where you can register for confidential counseling or webinar events. You can also contact Jay Burbage, SBC administrative assistant, at or 252-246-1209 or Melissa Evans, SBC director, at or 252-246-1232. At #WilsonCC, we make Wilson work.


• Nov. 2 — 2021 Greater Wilson Career Fair from 10 a.m. to noon (virtual format).

• Nov. 8 — Registration for winter term and spring semester.

• Nov. 9 — New student orientation and nursing information session.

• Dec. 1 — Winter term begins.

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Due to the threat of severe weather, the college will be closed on Friday, September 7, 2023.