Ashe takes first steps toward becoming Certified Entrepreneurial Community
Last modified: Nov. 14, 2012
On Nov. 5, Ashe County placed a bet on entrepreneurship and began taking its first steps toward a more vibrant economic future, according to a resolution approved 5-0 by county commissioners to begin Advantage West's Economic Development Group's “certified entrepreneurial community,” program.
Dean of Wilkes Community College's Ashe Campus Chris Robinson told commissioners the program encourages economic development with a regional focus, and said the program begins with a community assessment designed to identify a community's weaknesses and strengths.
“We are a regional economy and this program will help each county create jobs for one another,” said Robinson.
The program's website touts Randy Miller, the president of Country Cablevision, whose company has laid more than 800 miles of high speed fiber cable across Yancey County, and the owners of Waynesville-based Smoky Mountain News, Scott McLeod and Greg Boothroyd, as examples of the kind of entrepreneurs western North Carolina can entice to the region, and sometimes grow from within.
Certified Entrepreneurial Communities across the region include Boone, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Haywood, Mitchell and Polk Counties, as well as Transylvania, Yancey, Macon Counties and the town of Black Mountain.
According to Advantage West, the program is designed to energize both local and outside entrepreneurs to create new enterprises and fuel the local economy.
The program is built to help communities become “entrepreneur ready,” and examines the local business climate, policies and regulations, and economic opportunities unique to local areas.
“That's why Certified Entrepreneurial Communities are a critical economic development strategy,” according to Advantage West. “This prosperous environment energizes local and outside entrepreneurs to create new enterprises and fuel the local economy even more.”
The program also helps communities cultivate a positive, enthusiastic attitude by starting with the question, “How can we help you start and succeed at business?” to attract outside entrepreneurs and encourage locals with an entrepreneurial streak of their own.
In addition to assuring the local community is committed to the process, the certification process includes assessing Ashe County's current entrepreneurial landscape, the creation of a comprehensive strategy for entrepreneurial growth, identifying Ashe County's current resources, and identifying and nurturing the county's most promising entrepreneurial talents.
“The process usually takes 18 months to two years,” according to Advantage West and said the process, “requires a team of community leaders — representatives from local government, educators, business people and established entrepreneurs,” to form the core of program.
After building a comprehensive plan, which includes goals and metrics set forth on behalf of their respective community, “That book and the process are reviewed by a certification review committee made up of leaders from the US Small Business Administration, the NC Small Business and Technology Development Council, venture capitalists, and two entrepreneurial companies and Advantage West's Board of Directors for official certification.