Program Offers Free Business Advice

Posted on November 29, 2013

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It has been said that mutual cooperation leads to mutual benefit in all things at all times.

That being the case, a program that helps county businesses work with students from UNC-Greensboro is a win-win for everyone involved.

At least that’s how LeeAnn Stokes, vice president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership (EDP) sees it.

The program offers local businesses the chance to work with seniors from the college’s Hospitality and Tourism department, who work with the businesses on a variety of levels as part of their final senior project.

Stokes said the cooperation between the businesses and the college offers something for all parties involved.

“(The college) wanted a real-world application of what the students had been learning during their college career,” she said. “This gives them the opportunity to take what they’ve learned in the classroom and put it to use.”

As for the businesses?

“We approached some of the businesses and once they decided to be a part of the program they end up getting a lot of free information,” Stokes said. “They get information including a marketing plan, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their business and they get help with new proposals and marketing research.

“So the business ends up getting free research and reports, and the students have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the program,” she added. “This allows them to step away from the textbook world and work with real businesses.”

This is the second year the EDP has worked with the college on the program, and for the first time it is being expanded into Pilot Mountain.

“The program started out in Mount Airy, but we’d like in the future to be able to share this with other municipalities in the count,” Stokes said.

Some of the businesses and organizations participating this year include Mount Airy’s Downtown business association, the Mayberry Toy Company, Miss Angel’s Bakery, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation and the Pilot Mountain Tourism Development Authority.

Some of the businesses are participating for a second year, expanding on the work done last year, Stokes said.

“For example, last year Miss Angel’s wanted to create a business website and the students helped her with that,” she said. “This year, she’s taking it one step further and working on using the website to offer online sales.”

Stokes said many business owners look at the program not only as a way to get some free help, but as a chance to help out the next generation.

“They look at it almost as a mentoring thing,” she said. “A way to give of themselves while at the same time receiving something in return.”

The students will present their final projects on Dec. 5, from 4:30 p.m., until 6:00 p.m., at the Surry Community College Center in Pilot Mountain.


Reposted from the Mount Airy News
Written by Keith Strange, Staff Reporter

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929

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