Small Business Center closure would leave void

Published 8:58 pm Saturday, February 14, 2015

Countless entrepreneurs and small business owners have discovered a gem at Beaufort County Community College.

Tucked away in Building 8 at the campus on Highway 264, the Small Business Center has been quietly boosting local job creation and retention in a really big way.

Led by director Lentz Stowe, the SBC offers education, training, counseling, referral and information to prospective and existing small business owners.

Workshops and seminars are a key part of the program. Subjects range from record keeping and taxes to writing a business plan. Local workshops drew more than 400 people over the past year.

Spend a few minutes with Stowe and one thing’s clear. He’s passionate about supporting small business in our community.

Whether he gets to continue that work with the SBC at the community college is not certain. The future of the statewide Small Business Center Network is in jeopardy.

Facing a request from the General Assembly to cut $26 million from its budget, the North Carolina Community College System is considering eliminating the SBCN.

That prospect has drawn a strong reaction from business leaders in our community.

In a letter of support, Catherine Glover, director of the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, explained the significance of the SBC to Gov. Pat McCrory.

“If funding for the Small Business Center is removed from our County, we will have been stripped of a vital resource that assists startup and current local businesses,” Glover wrote. “I can see where in larger metropolitan areas that have universities there might be a duplication of resources. However, I can say in rural North Carolina counties like ours that is not the case. We work as a team and the Small Business Center is a major partner of this team. If the funding of the Small Business Centers is stopped, a catalyst for economic development and entrepreneurship is halted in not only our county, but in rural areas. “

Glover is right. Funding for the SBC Network provides a positive local return on investment. Eliminating it would leave a void in local support of small business growth and entrepreneurship.

For more information about the SBC, visit and search the Continuing Education menu for a link to the Small Business Center.


Ashley Vansant is publisher of the Washington Daily News. He can be reached at