Focus on Forsyth Table of Experts

A group of community leaders gathered at Front Street Capital’s new headquarters located in Bailey South to discuss Covid-19 and the profound impact, not just on business but on higher education, nonprofits, the workforce and certainly on individual households.

Community Hero: Allan Younger, Director of the Small Business Center, serving Forsyth and Stokes counties

Allan Younger with Winston Salem Dash mascot holding bags of food.

Allan is responsible for strengthening operations and services, enhancing support to small businesses, and providing community advocacy. His desire is to positively impact the confidence of small business owners regarding their ability to succeed. Allan not only does a great job as the center director, but he uses his own social media resources to assist people in doing business together. He is always connecting people both in person and virtually to help them grow. He goes out of his way to include a diverse perspective in his work. He is truly a champion of small businesses and helping people feel empowered to take a chance.

‘I know what it’s like to be homeless’ — Forsyth Tech student body president shares his journey

Nearly eight years ago, Curtis Walker arrived in North Carolina with nothing but the clothes on his back and hope for brighter future. Moving from New York, he was ready to turn a new page and build a better life.

“I had a bus ticket, and I had the clothes on my back,” Walker said.

He got hired at Pizza Hut first, then moved to Advanced Auto, then onto Tyson Foods, and then Ashley Foods. Eventually, he found himself at Corning, where a talk with a mentor led him to consider a choice that transformed his life — going back to school.

Now, almost eight years after that bus ride from New York, Walker is the Student Government Association (SGA) president at Forsyth Technical Community College, part of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and ready to graduate with an associate degree in supply chain management.

The right fit

When deciding on schools, Walker knew he wanted to study supply chain management. He found Forsyth Tech and discovered their supply chain program. With a dream in mind and course catalog in hand, he packed up his bags and moved from Wilkesboro to the Triad.

At the time he started his classes, he had no idea where the opportunities at the college would take him — specifically the leadership development he would undergo. Walker credits many of the opportunities he’s had to the relationships he’s built with students, faculty, and staff.

During his first year at the school, he met president Janet Spriggs in an elevator. The conversation they had that day bloomed into a relationship, one that Walker is still learning from today.

Watching how Spriggs interacts with people and responds to the environment around her is a learning experience for Walker, he said. “Even though I’m not dealing with it, I’m learning from it,” he shared.

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Aid where it matters: Small business among hardest hit by shut down

Forsyth Technical Community College Small Business Center Director Allan Younger used a single word to describe how small businesses and entrepreneurs will be affected by the shutdown surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.


Younger this week is pointing those seeking advice to the U.S. Small Business Administration and to business owners’ local chambers of commerce websites for direction.

“Everybody knows that depending on what type of small business it is, this situation is going to be devastating to many of them,” Younger said.

“I think what people are often overlooking is there are ways to support these businesses.”

With bars and restaurants shutting down inside service, people can take advantage of curbside service, take-out and home delivery.

Younger posted to his social media –– LinkedIn and other platforms –– some area startups that provide those kinds of services.

“I would definitely go to (the SBA) website. I have heard that they are trying to make even more available than they normally make available. Because this is not only a crisis, this is probably the biggest crisis that a lot of businesses are going to face,” he said.

“In addition to that, I would encourage business owners to look at the small business center website, to look at every chamber of commerce website, to see what resources they offer.”

Around the Triad, incubator and accelerator spaces and co-working sites are also having to take precautions to help blunt the spread of COVID-19. Many are locking down their facilities, opening only to employees and businesses with on-site work spaces.

Visitors are being asked to stay away for the next few weeks and public events are either canceled or postponed.

Venture Café in Winston-Salem holds regular “Thursday Night Gatherings,” mixers where would-be entrepreneurs and small-business owners network, exchange ideas and sit-in on workshops.

Those gatherings have been moved from in-person to a virtual experience for the time being.

“It is incredibly difficult if you are in startup mode, because when you are in startup mode a lot of your efforts are meeting people, understanding what the market requires and needs, and being able to position your business to respond to what the market needs,” Younger said.

With programs like Venture Café going virtual, or in other cases being called off, that really limits a startup’s ability to do the work it needs to get off the ground.

“A huge component of market research is interacting with people and saying, ‘hey, this is what my new business is going to do. How do you feel about it,’” Younger said.

“And people will tell you, ‘Yeah, that is a great idea, or no, that is not a great idea.’

“Right now business owners do not have that opportunity.”

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