When you’re trying to start a business, it’s always important to have support along the way. That’s where resources like Forsyth Tech’s Small Business Center come in. Located at Innovation Quarter, the Small Business Center helps entrepreneurs receive assistance with classes, seminars, and mentors. Since 2017, they’ve offered a special program called the Small Business Launch Challenge that awards Forsyth Tech alumni, students, and Small Business Center clients with funding for business start-ups. This program is instrumental in helping entrepreneurs establish themselves as they pursue their business goals. First, participants must register in the program. If selected, they’re able to take part in educational events, weekly group meetings, and one-one-one consultations with business mentors for approximately five months. The finalists of the second Launch Challenge session announced in May, 2018 were: Wanda Bullock, owner of Math Slayers; Vatashea Flournoy, owner of Her Perfections Beauty Studio; Ming-Yen Ho, owner of Who Is It Costume; Curtis Harrington, owner of Families Athletically Striving Together (FAST); Margaret Morris, owner of Triad Speech Consultants; and Ron Neal, owner of Advanced Alternatives, LLC. All finalists won a share of $50,000 from the Forsyth Tech Foundation. “The challenge helped me solidify myself as an entrepreneur and become an official LLC,” Harrison said. “The resources are extremely effective to produce growth and success for you in whatever venture you aspire to start, all for free!” Like Harrington, Morris was also grateful for the Small Business Center and said that, when starting a business, support is key. “Everyone needs continuing encouragement and new ideas,” she said. “There’s always one more thing to learn.” The panel of judges—including business mentors from the challenge and Forsyth Tech faculty members—selected winners based on their presentation, the potential success of their business start-up, and the work they had completed throughout the program. The Launch Challenge is the result of a collaborative effort among six Winston- Salem-based colleges and universities called the Emerging Entrepreneur Funds, including Piedmont International University, Salem College, UNC School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, and Winston-Salem State University. At Forsyth Tech, the Launch Challenge fosters business start-ups in Forsyth and Stokes Counties. The award pool is $100,000 per year for three years through 2020, and the award amount is based on successful completion of the challenge. The next session for competitors will run through May 2019.