SpringBoard hires new chief officer

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Leah Easterlin, left, chief entrepreneurship officer for SpringBoard NC, talks with Fred George, managing partner of Small Shops Marketplace, about opportunities for his business on Friday at Suite 136 at Station Square.


Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

SpringBoard NC recently hired Leah Easterlin as its new chief entrepreneurship officer.

SpringBoard, an entrepreneurial resource hub designed to connect with small businesses, startups, service providers and community partners, was founded in 2012 by Phil Dixon, CEO of ZynBit, a software company in Rocky Mount, and Jeff Tobias, senior vice president and senior commercial loan officer at Providence Bank.

The nonprofit organization focuses on empowering low-resource people by helping them start social enterprises and businesses.

Easterlin said a major part of her duties will include planning SpringBoard’s schedule of workshops and events for 2019, which include the 12-week Joe Startup workshops that now operate at Station Square. Easterlin will be looking to recruit people with aspirations of being entrepreneurs to take the workshops.

Joe Startup was created and operated by Chris Mumford, a professor at the Kenan-Flager Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Mumford is also known as someone who has helped started businesses and social enterprises for the past 20 years across the United States and Asia. The overall goal of the Joe Startup workshops is to help create a startup plan for aspiring entrepreneurs. 

“We’re also going to have a digital marketing workshop with Chris Mumford, and entrepreneurs that have gone through the Joe Startup process will have access of all the resources that SpringBoard provides,” Easterlin said. “My job is to create that single point of contact and help identify opportunities for startups and businesses and align them with local networks and resources like the local small business development centers, (N.C.) Wesleyan Entrepreneur Center, YoPro, SCORE, OIC and NEER.”

Easterlin said since coming on board, in addition to helping startup businesses, SpringBoard is also focusing on supplying tools and resources to help existing businesses in the Twin Counties. 

“We want to support new businesses as well as existing businesses because for every new business that pops up and an existing business closes, then it’s almost like we’re back to square one. If a small business is struggling, we want to tell them why not come to this accelerator group at SpringBoard and as a group we can give suggestions, ideas and maybe put together an action plan to help move the business in the right direction.”

Easterlin said being a part of SpringBoard is all about capitalizing on the area’s economic momentum and fostering a climate of innovation and activity that generates job creation. She added it’s crucial to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Rocky Mount and Nash and Edgecombe counties.

“I think it’s incredibly important to have an entrepreneurial presence in rural areas, especially if there are more people that have an entrepreneurial mindset,” Easterlin said. “There are so many people around here that are already doing something that’s entrepreneurial even it isn’t a business. If people are launching their own businesses with the goal of being able to make a fair living wage, then that could create sustainability for the economy because positions are cyclical. The goal is to create sustainability through those cycles and one way to do that is through entrepreneurship.

“We at SpringBoard want to support the entrepreneur and get them to a place to make a fair living wage and hopefully create jobs for as many people as possible.”