85 new businesses created

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By April Wright, Reporter

The Crossroads Small Business Development Center has led to the creation of 85 new businesses that represent the potential of 391 jobs.

The center, along with the Blue Ridge Crossroads Economic Development Authority and the Southwest Regional Enterprise Center which assists with small business development, hosted the recent “Celebration of Entrepreneurial Business Achievements” dinner and ribbon-cutting to recognize small business owners.

The event brought together risk-taking business entrepreneurs and local and state officials who have continued to offer assistance in the economic development process.

“It’s exciting tonight to recognize those who have received services and worked with the SERC, BRCEDA and the SBDC services here at the Crossroads institute,” said institute director Oliver McBride.

“I want to think the leaders who have made this possible, and especially those who have taken the initiative and the rise to start your own business.”

McBride recalled that when Crossroads Institute opened three years ago to offer classes and to support small businesses, he shared a quote from noted developer Ernesto Sirolli.

“Right now, in our community at this very moment, there is someone dreaming about doing something to improve his or her life,” McBride quoted Sirolli at the 2005 opening ceremony ““If we can help that person transform their dreams into meaningful work, we will be halfway to changing the economic fortunes of our entire community.”

At the dinner last week, McBride said, “Tonight, we’re here to celebrate the entrepreneurial efforts and the dreams of the persons in this room who are our entrepreneurial achievers and celebrate that you had a dream and have taken the steps to realize that dream.”

Mike Maynard of Grayson County Board of Supervisors, Sam Dickson of Carroll County Board of Supervisors and Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell joined together in a symbolic ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of new businesses in the region, as the many business owners stood in recognition.

Maynard said he was excited to introduce leaders of the community at the dinner, but that the real “honorary guests are the ones that stood up.”

“Rebuilding a community requires a lot of groups working together, and the first group is risk takers—those who are willing to sacrifice money, reputation, time, family’s time, with no promised outcome,” Maynard said. “And no community is successful without risk takers.”

Maynard recognized then local and state leaders and coordinators of the SERC, BRCEDA and SBDC.

Business development center director Dallas Garrett has consulted with 360 clients and assisted in completing 119 business plans to date. Eighty-five of the plans received funding at a total investment of $19.383 million. Twenty-one plans did not need outside funding sources. The process has created 391 potential jobs.

Out of 391 jobs created, only one of the businesses assisted through the development center has not made it. One chose to go out of business and another downsized.

While randomly looking at the long list of businesses created, Garrett elaborated about the 20th business he assisted. Court Street Coffee in Hillsville started with eight employees and has since opened Espresso Express. It has 25 employees and the owners plan to open a steak restaurant by early next year.

Another example, Blue Ridge Tire & Auto, has doubled in size since it opened, Garrett said.

“We’ve got a really good thing started, with great potential in the future. Almost everybody needed considerable help in starting their business and that's what we're here for.”

Carroll County Administrator Gary Larrowe presented video footage of various small business entrepreneurs from around the community. He cited examples such as Blue Ridge Tire & Auto, Court Street Coffee, Squealer's BBQ Catering Service and Winterberry Gallery of Woodlawn.

The development center offers consulting services to new or existing businesses seeking assistance in writing a business plan and general business development.

• For information, contact Garrett at 236-0391.