Fredrick Davis is a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning. He is currently working with North Carolina’s Northeast Commission in Edenton as part of the Carolina Economic Revitalization Corps program.
Here in the Northeastern region of North Carolina, it is very common for much of the region’s workforce to move to more urban communities (like Raleigh and Greenville) and even to nearby Virginia to find adequate jobs. The region’s communities are consistently losing their best and brightest due to the fact that businesses do not migrate to or sustain themselves here. In these tough times, not all businesses can survive.
To respond to these challenges, local and regional workforce development organizations have put in place strategies to help businesses weather the current economic storm. The Northeastern Workforce Development Board (NWDB) has taken the lead in trying to create and expand the local job opportunities. Last Tuesday, I had the privilege to attend a training presentation designed to provide local businesses with the tools to help them grow and remain sustainable. Attendees included mayors, town managers, and nonprofit leaders seeking to spread the word on this opportunity to small businesses across the region.
The presentation highlighted three programs (SymmeTree, Probe, and Lean,Grean & Clean). SymmeTree is a two-day business simulation experience. Participants receive personal leadership assessment, techniques in creativity and strategic thinking, and a whole host of tools for business owners to enhance their leadership skills. Promoting Business Excellence (PROBE) is a company assessment system in which firms are surveyed for performance and recommendations for improvements from manufacturing quality to product development. Lean, Green & Clean is a program that helps manufacturers identify and reduce processes and environmental waste that strain a company’s resources.
With the help of the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC) and NC State’s Industrial Extension Service (IES), the NWDB offers these programs that will help with business leadership skill enhancement, performance assessment, production efficiency and waste reduction. This training series will give small businesses in rural North Carolina the competitive advantage they need to provide an economic impact to the region. Though space is limited to two to three business owners and manufacturers per session, the NWDB has made a commitment to host the training series twice a year.
While these programs are common for most large-scale businesses, small businesses in this region have been typically excluded from these initiatives due to their high cost. However, through subsidies provided by federal grants, NWDB is making these programs available to small businesses that would normally be left out because of significant training fees.
This partnership from the NWDB, SBTDC, and NSCU’s IES will provide knowledge and other supportive resources for small and mid-size businesses, as well as emerging entrepreneurs. This training series hopes to shore up existing businesses and provide them with additional skills so they can come out of the recession poised for business growth and expansion and remain in the Northeastern region.