Small Business Center

The mission of the Small Business Center (SBC) is to increase the success rate and number of viable small businesses in North Carolina by providing high quality, readily accessible assistance to prospective and existing small business owners which will lead to job creation and retention. Business seminars, confidential business counseling, loan program information and vital resources are offered to residents of Columbus County free of charge.

The Center works cooperatively with businesses, civic leaders, organizations, state and local governments, universities and other colleges in promoting assistance to small business firms. It operates a Microenterprise Loan Program that provides technical training and access to loans from $500 to $25,000 on a group lending basis for business start-up or expansion and offers entrepreneurship training in adult students through a 24-hour continuing education program entitled REAL—Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning in which the participants develop entrepreneurial traits, knowledge and skills to create and operate a small business.

The Small Business Center has a resource library that contains books, pamphlets, cd’s, business magazines, and other related materials, all available on a checkout basis.

The Microenterprise Loan Program (MLP) is for anyone who wants to start a new business or expand an existing business in a rural area of North Carolina. You may be eligible for a loan of $500 to $25,000. Funding is provided through the NC Rural Economic Development Center by the North Carolina General Assembly. Additional funding is provided by other foundations and corporate and individual contributors. The MIP program will offer you appropriate and timely technical assistance, which will allow you to gain and improve your financial and business management skills.

You may be eligible if you:

  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Live in North Carolina
  • Are at least 18 years of age
  • Own and operate or plan to own and operate a business in one of North Carolina’s rural counties
  • Have fewer than 10 full-time employees

The Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) Program is committed to developing entrepreneurship talents through action learning and fostering the creation of sustainable enterprises throughout North Carolina with special emphasis on rural communities. REAL is a unique hands-on approach to facilitate entrepreneurs through the planning, owning and operating of their own businesses.

Prior business experience is not required. The program helps individuals to start, expand and improve their own small businesses and deals with topics, such as self-assessment, community analysis, market research and feasibility, competitive analysis, financial feasibility, plan essentials, legal structures, targeting the customer, taxes and licenses, and computerized financial analysis.

Confidential Business Counseling

The Small Business Center provides free, confidential counseling services for new and existing businesses. Available on an as-needed basis, this free, confidential service acts as a sounding board for ideas and concerns that you may have about your business. Our professional staff will help you find solutions to your challenging business questions. To request a confidential counseling session visit Online Request for Counseling.

How SBC can help?

Core services include business seminars and workshops; free, confidential business counseling, and access to vital resources and information. We can put you in touch with business and community leaders, as well as local, state and federal agencies who share the goal of making your business a success.

What is the cost of SBC Services?

Confidential counseling services and access to resource libraries are free of charge. Some seminars and workshops require a registration fee.

Business Seminars & Workshops

The Small Business Center offers a wide variety of workshops and courses to help small businesses become successful. Some topics include:

  • How to Start a Business
  • How to Write a Business Plan
  • Financing a Business
  • Marketing for Success
  • Record-keeping and Taxes

SBC Resource Center

The Small Business Center has a library of professional resources waiting to be tapped. Printed materials, including books, pamphlets, magazines, trade journals, as well as a wide variety of tapes and videos, are available for your use. For additional information about small business center resources visit the NC Small Business Center Network.