Entrepreneurs express support for proposed business center

WAXHAW, NC — Business leaders in Union County are urging voters to catch up on a key point in the Nov. 8 vote. It is a $32 million general bond for the construction of a new facility for South Piedmont Community College.

what you need to know

  • On November 8, Union County voters will choose to accept or reject a $32,725,000 community college bond
  • The funds will be used to build a center for entrepreneurship
  • If passed, property taxes will increase by 0.85 cents for every $100 in value

The proposed Center for Entrepreneurship will be a community resource center for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to network in one central county location. The 19,000 square foot SPCC facility will be located in Waxhaw near the Waxhaw Parkway.

Campus leaders say the center will offer resources for startups and small businesses to support them at every stage of their business lifecycle. This includes workshops, classes and hosting of networking events for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

If the community college bond stands, property taxes will increase by 0.85 cents for every $100 in value. This reduces to an additional $8.50 per year for a $100,000 home.

Renee Hode, director of small business and entrepreneurship, says the college was motivated to launch the hub after seeing how many businesses needed extra support at the height of the COVID pandemic.

Although the college provides guidance through the SPCC Small Business Center, Hode says the new center will provide even more resources at greater scale and support more employers in Union and Anson counties.

“To build that support network to keep growing and starting businesses,” Hode said. “What the Small Business Center can do can be reinforced by the Center for Entrepreneurship.”

There are over 5,000 small businesses in Union County. Hode says the Center for Entrepreneurship will better support new businesses so they don’t fail.

“About 50% of startups don’t make it to the five-year mark,” Hode said. “That’s why it’s important to have that support.”

Earlier this month, the SPCC held a town hall meeting to learn more about the bond. During the event, no taxpayer objected to the tax increase or the proposed relief.

Our news team also spoke to residents of the county off camera. When asked about the tax increase, these taxpayers were not opposed to a reasonable increase as long as it supports businesses.

Spectrum News 1 recently reached out to all of the Union County Board district officers for a response on the proposed Center for Entrepreneurship. County Commissioner Jerry Simpson made this statement:

“The Center for Entrepreneurship is a long-standing effort to build a presence for SPCC in Western Union County. Over the years, SPCC has been successful in building relationships with UCPS, Wingate University and the Monroe-Union County Economic Development Commission that are focused on providing flexibility and real-time career development and training for our citizens. The center will be unique in its ability to continue to provide a community college education through its established programs while providing an incubator for small businesses and the career opportunities that result. The center will serve as a catalyst for continued economic growth by providing students, training, mentoring and access to needed resources.”

Some entrepreneurs are expressing their support for the center, hoping to encourage people to vote for an entity that could help more businesses thrive.

One such employer is Nikki Curry.

Curry wears many hats, especially mother, teacher and business owner.

Curry graduated from North Carolina Central University and received her master’s degree from Strayer University. She is currently doing her post-masters in Applied Behavior Analysis at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Curry worked two jobs for years. She worked full-time as a high school teacher at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

But in her free time, Curry worked hour-long hours as a professional organizer for her own company, Optimal Organizers.

“It was my everyday routine for more than five years,” Curry said.

But in 2021, Curry made the difficult decision to quit her teaching job and pursue her entrepreneurial dreams.

“I left a career that I was happy in, but it just wasn’t enough for me,” Curry said.

Curry now runs her organization business full-time.

“You don’t traditionally see a lot of people who look like me in this space,” Curry said. “Depiction [matters.] I can make certain clients feel very comfortable because they have someone who looks like them or has a similar experience to them.”

As a professional organizer, Curry meets with clients and helps them declutter their living and working spaces. Curry says the organizing techniques help reduce her mental and physical stress.

Her client, eXp Realty real estate agent Elizabeth Flynn, agrees.

“I’m a better mom, person, real estate agent, I show myself differently in this world,” Flynn said.

Curry says she’s able to make that impact in the community thanks to the Union County community.

Curry says it took some time before she felt ready to leave her teaching job. But she says all of this is possible because of the knowledge she received from the heads of the SPCC.

This included a Level Up Business Accelerator program at college. It focused on how owners can increase revenue and create jobs.

“It helped me build trust as an owner,” Curry said.

One of Curry’s biggest challenges in starting her business was determining the best pricing model so she could generate enough income to stay full-time.

“Not to undercut what I do, but also not at prices that would not be affordable for everyone. It was a challenge for me,” said Curry.

Based on these experiences, Curry believes the Center for Entrepreneurship will be another element to further support small businesses in Union County and possibly nationwide.

“You can be successful [here]’ Curry said.

The connections and mentorship Curry forged at SPCC is now opening the door to other business opportunities in our region.

Curry says she and Charlotte resident Georgina Fiorentino founded the non-profit Alternative Bridges. It will consist of an adult day care center for seniors and people with intellectual disabilities.

Curry says they will be hosting a 5K fundraiser in December to support the adult day care center.

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