Center serving more businesses


Theresa Peaden


Staff Writer

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Theresa Peaden knows there is a risk to starting a business, but her office can help by providing free confidential one-on-one counseling.

Peaden directs the Small Business Center at Nash Community College. In addition to giving personal assistance, the center offers a variety of educational opportunities to help small businesses be successful.

“We host here at Nash approximately 60 business seminars a year,” Peaden told the Telegram. “We’ve seated this year so far 569 attendees and we’ve seen approximately 60, getting close to 65 clients this year.

“We’ve seen a 20 percent increase in our client requests this fiscal year, which is, I think, a good sign of optimism in the economy and in the small business world,” she said. “We also provide some short classes as well — and that’s something that’s fairly new that we’ve brought into play this spring.”

Peaden spoke about having brought in what is called Launch Rocky Mount. The program was modeled after LaunchDETROIT, which supports and develops entrepreneurs and small businesses in under-resourced communities in the Motor City region.

Launch Rocky Mount was held earlier this year, with 18 signing up to participate.

Peaden said the program taught participants how to prepare a business plan and identify who their best customers will be and emphasized peer-to-peer networking and support.

The program, which was free, went for eight weeks and three hours a night, with 14 earning certificates.

Launch Rocky Mount had quite a list of sponsors, including the Helius Foundation of Durham, the World Food Policy Center at Duke University and the Conetoe Family Life Center.

The Helius Foundation specializes in helping small businesses and people unable to find traditional living-wage employment.

The World Food Policy Center was established to address food issues, including hunger, malnutrition, obesity, climate change and safety.

The Conetoe Family Life Center seeks to change the poverty cycle in families by improving resources available to families, specifically children.

The list of sponsors of Launch Rocky Mount also included the Station Square complex in downtown Rocky Mount, the Eastern N.C. Center for Business and Entrepreneurship at N.C. Wesleyan College and SpringBoard NC. SpringBoard supports entrepreneurship in the Interstate 95-U.S. 64 region of the state.

Peaden said she is following up to find out the progress of the 14 who completed the Launch Rocky Mount program.

Peaden also provided an extensive list of programs on the Small Business Center calendar — and the Small Business Center already has been working with N.C. Wesleyan in instances on programs.

One future program, scheduled for Aug. 17, calls for the Small Business Center and the Eastern N.C. Center for Business and Entrepreneurship to partner to celebrate National Nonprofit Day. The gathering is set for 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Gateway Technology Center at N.C. Wesleyan.

The program will include how to develop an engaged board of directors, focus on the importance of volunteers and help provide information about where and how to find grants.

On Sept. 14, the Small Business Center and the Eastern N.C. Center for Business and Entrepreneurship will partner to celebrate National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. The gathering is set for 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the continuing education building at Nash Community College.

The emphasis will be on starting a trucking business the right way.

“I have a lot of clients that come in that are interested in that particular topic — and there’s a real demand for truck drivers, also, in this area,” Peaden said.

The Small Business Center can be traced back to 1984 and is state funded. Peaden, 61, has been the Small Business Center’s director since the summer of 2017 after having directed the Small Business Center at Wake Technical Community College for about three years.

Peaden’s background includes having served as director of continuing education at Wilson Community College and as director of the Small Business Center at Edgecombe Community College.

Peaden can be reached by email at trpeaden297@nashcc.edu and by phone at 252-451-8233. More information about the center can be found at www.nashcc.edu/about/community-resources/small-business-center.