Forsyth Tech has good news for recent graduates and area entrepreneurs. Last April, the college joined forces in support of small business with the five other colleges and universities in Winston-Salem—Piedmont International University, Salem College, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Wake Forest University, and Winston-Salem State University. The coalition was a result of the Entrepreneurial Culture Committee, an initiative organized by the Winston-Salem Alliance. Together, on May 4 at Venture Café, these educational institutions committed their financial support to distinguish how Winston-Salem can become an entrepreneurial haven.
Each institution developed a different program in support of the initiative, and Forsyth Tech’s program is the Small Business Launch Challenge. The challenge is designed to operate in two sessions, September through December and January through April. Allan Younger, the director of the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech, explains that the program “will work with individuals who in four months will hopefully become business owners. Some who launch successfully will have a financial reward.”
Applications opened to the whole community in June, and the first session officially kicked off on September 1 with a total of 22 participants. The participants’ business ventures range from craft breweries and technology to psychology programs and a mobile salon for seniors. Over the course of the session, participants will attend five Small Business Center educational events and three mentoring sessions per month, to receive educational resources and guidance from other local business owners or professionals. They must provide weekly progress reports, showing the steps they have taken to advance their idea, and on December 18, the remaining participants will make a final presentation about their business plan. Each session, $50,000 will be awarded—all made possible through the Forsyth Tech Foundation.
Younger believes that this program, “helps the Small Business Center give business entrepreneurs suggestions and resources they need.” With the Launch Challenge, “Forsyth Tech has raised money so that we can put it in the hands of the people starting our community’s businesses,” he explains. He hopes that Forsyth Tech’s Launch Challenge Program will help to make Winston-Salem a place where entrepreneurs are able to be successful.