Wake Tech Small Business Center – RALEIGH, N.C. (May 3, 2023) – Wake Tech celebrated small business owners and budding entrepreneurs who are making the dream of small business ownership a reality.
Wake Tech’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Small Business hosted the first Bizzy Awards to recognize young entrepreneurs who have completed Wake Tech’s Entrepreneurship for Trades and Skilled Professionals (ESTP) course and LaunchWakeCounty program.
Wake Tech Small Business Center
The ESTP course teaches early stage entrepreneurs how to start a business. LaunchWakeCounty helps support and develop these entrepreneurs with increased training and community support. To date, LaunchWakeCounty has graduated nearly 800 small businesses.
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The first annual Bizzy Awards recognized LaunchHolly Springs as Program of the Year and Silver Lake Construction as Business of the Year. Lonette Mims, Wake Tech dean of Professional Services and campus leader for the Western Wake campus, won the Launch Rally Award for her continued support and advocacy for LaunchWakeCounty.
The event also featured Wake Tech’s Main Street Entrepreneur Accelerator Competition. Three student entrepreneurs pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges, while three LaunchWakeCounty alumni presented their business development plans. Each contestant walked away a winner. Students received grant money and business owners received house money.
Shaw University student Blaise Dampier won a $25,000 grant for his business NMEA Technologies, which creates educational software for colleges and universities. Dampier plans to begin plans this summer.
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“I’m really grateful to have won this funding,” Dampier said. “This is an integral part of our next step, which is to contract developers to work on our mobile app to help improve student life.”
The top prize, $25,000, was awarded to Stephanie Chiles. Her bakery, Made with Grace, sells specialty cakes and pastries. Flowers is a graduate of LaunchWendell. She plans to use the funds to upgrade equipment and storage space and rent commercial kitchen space to make more Dominican-style desserts.
“I am very excited and honored to receive this funding,” Flowers said. “As a new business, the support means the world! I’m so thankful for Launch and the community that surrounds it.”
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Shaw student Devin Versteegen received a $7,500 grant for his business idea, DT Photography. He plans to use the funds to rent photography and cinematography equipment. Wake Tech student Amari Thompson received a $2,500 grant for Marie the Hairologist, a natural hair care business Thompson hopes to open in Raleigh.
LaunchHollySprings graduate Amy Bishop received $7,500 for Sawdust and Clay, a small business that allows artists to buy and sell their creations. Janice Collier won $2,500 for Janice Collier Designs, which sells handmade and organic children’s clothing. Collier graduated from LaunchHollySprings.
The entrepreneurship competition is the culmination of the Main Street Entrepreneurs Accelerator (MSEA) program, an innovative initiative to help budding entrepreneurs accelerate their businesses. Participants complete a series of small business training sessions on a variety of topics and receive training and advice to improve their business skills.
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“Wake Tech offers great educational programming and MSEA is next level! It puts real capital to work for small businesses within our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Chris Weeks, director of entrepreneurship at Wake Tech. “Having a battle plan with money to go with it is a proven way to support small business, and we’re excited to celebrate another year of the MSEA initiative.”
The MSEA program is made possible by a personal gift from Mike Conlon, founder and CEO of Affordable Communities Group LLC, and a grant from Wells Fargo. Also a board member of the Wake Tech Foundation, Conlon has committed more than $1 million to support Wake Tech’s small business programs. He received the Conlon Vanguard Award at the Bizzy Awards and was recognized for helping to develop a thriving small business community in the region.
“I appreciate this honor,” Conlon said. “I love entrepreneurship. The judges and I were very impressed with the business plans we saw tonight.”
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Raven Edwards, who received $20,000 for her business, Kraven Juice, in the first MESA Pitch Competition last year, says her business has grown more than 100 percent. Edwards, whose business sells specialty juices, has served as a coach for many of the students participating in the MSEA program this year.
The MSEA program is open to student entrepreneurs at Wake Tech, Shaw University, and Saint Augustine University, as well as qualified small business owners in the community. For more information, please visit Main Street.
© 2023 Wake Technical Community College | 9101 Fayetteville Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603 | Main Tel: 919-866-5000 Wayne Loots Dean, Department of Business and Industrial Services Ken Dillo Director of Small Business Center Fred Gebarowski Director of Entrepreneurship
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Us Wayne Dean of Business and Industrial Services Ken Dillo Small Business Center Director Fred Gebarowski Director of Entrepreneurship You Wake Up Technical Community College Discussion Local community colleges should be an important part of your region’s entrepreneurial development and your chamber’s small business improvement initiative. Hear how one community college is working with its local chamber to protect the economic sustainability of its community. Speakers: Wayne Loots, Dean of Business and Industry Fred Gebarowski, Director of Entrepreneurship Ken Dillo, Director of the Small Business Center
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