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Entrepreneur Resources

The entrepreneurial energy in Catawba County is at its peak, with a robust network of resources supporting business development. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, regardless of size, years in operation, or specific training needs, there are resources to assist you in on your journey. Explore more details by clicking on the dropdown headings below. 

Embark on your entrepreneurial journey with the Startup Catawba County Digital Toolkit. We’ve designed this Digital Toolkit to guide you at every step of your business journey.

Whether you’re starting anew or expanding your existing business in Catawba County, this resource will provide you with step-by-step instructions. The guide covers refining your business idea, selecting a location, navigating regulations, obtaining permits, passing inspections, and more. 

Access the Startup Catawba County Digital Toolkit by clicking on the button below…and pass it along! 

startup catawba county digital toolkit

 The Catalyst: Entrepreneurs Supporting Entrepreneurs is a group of local founders, mentors/investors and local entrepreneurial support resources (The Chamber of Catawba County, SBTDC, the CVCC Small Business Center, SCORE, Manufacturing Solutions Center, LRU Center for Social & Commercial Entrepreneurship). We are growing Catawba County’s start-up community by providing regular entrepreneurial programming to build community and provide needed support to local entrepreneurs to steepen and lengthen their growth curves.

 Join our monthly Founder’s Meet-Ups in the Hickory Metro region to connect exclusively with fellow founders, entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors. Identify your role with a color-coded system at check-in: Founder, Entrepreneurial Support Partner/Mentor, or Investor/Access to Capital. Have the opportunity to pitch your business in a 3-minute ‘Quick Pitch’ for practice, feedback, and exposure.

Why attend? Engage with regional support organizations, practice pitching, connect with mentors and potential funding sources. Supported by partners like The Chamber of Catawba County, Small Business & Technology Development Center, the Small Business Center at Catawba Valley Community College, The Hub Co-Working Community, The Manufacturing Solutions Center, and Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Join us monthly on Wednesday evenings from 5:30-7:00 PM for a thriving startup community. To learn more or to get on our email list to be notified of upcoming events, please contact President/CEO Lindsay Keisler here.

The Small Business Center at CVCC works with start-ups and existing small businesses through offering training seminars and providing confidential business counseling at no cost.  The SBC’s mission is to help new businesses get started and to help existing small businesses expand, increasing the number of businesses and jobs in our community. When you start up—and grow—a profitable business, you make a positive impact on the economic health of our region. The job at the Small Business Center is to provide you every possible resource.

Click here to visit their website to view their schedule of workshops for small business owners and/or to schedule your counseling appointment. Contact: Chris Reese, Director, Small Business Center at (828) 327-7000, Ext. 4917. 

Download their Lean Business Plan TemplateMarketing Research Tools, and Funding Options.

To help Chamber Shareholders and Investors achieve growth and competitiveness success, we have forged a partnership with one of our state’s most experienced business assistance programs: the university-based NC Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC). The SBTDC has a proven track record of helping businesses develop high-return strategies, including increasing sales, developing new markets, building talent, enhancing leadership capabilities, as well as working with regional partners to “Make your business better.”

Schedule an informational appointment with one of their Business Counselors to understand how they can assist you in achieving your goals for growth. 

The EDC actively supports existing businesses aiming to thrive and scale. They guide existing and growing companies with potential location selection, regulatory guidance, workforce training, and general resource linkage. They are dedicated to fostering business growth and success by leveraging their local and state collaborations. 

The EDC can assist you in researching the local commercial real estate market for your business’s next home and help you understand potential programs available to support business growth. Join their industry e-newsletter for helpful resources and events, or book a consultation with EDC staff for general business assistance.

The EDPNC is focused on recruiting new businesses to the state, supporting the needs of existing businesses, connecting exporters to global customers, helping small business owners get their start, and attracting tourists and visitors from all over the world. The EDPNC proudly serves as North Carolina’s statewide economic development organization, committed to serving all those looking to invest in, visit or do business with North Carolina.

For help starting a business in North Carolina, click here. Access articles about business structure, information about licenses and permits, tax information and employer requirements, business forms, and more. For help growing an existing business, click here. For North Carolina businesses who need export assistance, click here. 

The City of Hickory is committed to promoting business and economic development and offers a range of incentives and programs to support to new and expanding businesses.

To learn more about their Economic Development Incentives Policy, Microenterprise Grant, or Small Business Loan Program, click here.

The Small Business Loan Program helps increase opportunities for entrepreneurship and small business growth locally. It provides loans to businesses looking for funding to create jobs and purchase equipment to take their business to the next level. Loans of up to $20,000 may be awarded for eligible businesses that create jobs, of which at least 51 percent are filled by low to moderate income individuals. 

The Microenterprise Grant Program awards grants ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 based on the needs outlined in a submitted business plan. Grant funds may be used for the following purposes: business equipment, inventory, necessary fixed assets, marketing and business promotion, or other essential business improvements. 

For resources in the City of Newton, click here. For economic development grants in Newton, learn more here.

For workforce and economic development resources in the City of Conover, click here

SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors, dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow, and achieve their goals.

SCORE is a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and offers free mentoring services through a network of 10,000 volunteer business networks. Mentors are experienced in all aspects and states of business development, whether you’re thinking of starting a business or growing your existing company. SCORE mentors support your success through offering experienced advice, consulting on best practices, and educating on small business topics. Sessions are held virtually through online meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges.

To find local workshops, register for free, live webinars or watch on demand webinars click here. 
To find a mentor, click here. 

SCORE’s newest hub for Rural Entrepreneurs can be access here

Supportedly exists to help the everyday entrepreneur start and grow their business with confidence. By providing how to training, answers, and on demand, quality support, and local connections, Supportedly is there to help entrepreneurs reach their goals.

Learn new and valuable skills with free online trainings and how to blogs and podcasts, ask experienced entrepreneurs questions, and connect with local mentors who provide support, training, and assistance, all for free.

Access Supportedly Startup Catawba here.  

The SBA is the only cabinet-level federal agency fully dedicated to small business and provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise as the nation’s only go-to resource and voice for small businesses. Since 1953, the SBA works to ignite change and spark action so small businesses can confidently start, grow, expand, or recover. 

To access the Ten steps to start your business resource guide, click here.
Access the 2024 National Edition Small Business Resource Guide here.
For free business counseling, click here.
For loan and lender information, click here. For additional funding programs, click here. 

The VBOC program offers resources to Veterans who are interested in starting or growing a small business. It is open to providing business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, Veterans, National Guard & Reserve members, and military spouses. 

VBOC works closely with SBA district offices and Transition Service Managers at military installations to conduct Boots to Business classes for transitioning service members and their spouses. 

VBOC also offers Pre-Business Plan Workshops, Business Plan Preparation, Comprehensive Feasibility Analysis, Entrepreneurial Training and Counseling, Mentorsihp, and more. 

To access these resources, click here.

For VBOC at Fayetteville State University, which covers North Carolina, click here.

NC IDEA is an independent private, 501(c)(3) foundation whose vision is to help North Carolinians achieve their entrepreneurial ambition to start and grow high potential companies. NC IDEA fosters sustainable economic development with competitive grants and programs for entrepreneurs and funding to strengthen the North Carolina entrepreneurial ecosystem. NC IDEA offers grant funding and support on the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Learn more about the organization here.

Have a great idea? NC IDEA LABS is an intensive program for founders developing an idea or product that needs validation through customer discovery.  Learn more.

Did you launch a startup? NC IDEA MICRO awards small, project based grants to young companies looking to validate and advance their idea. Learn more. 

Looking to scale? NC IDEA SEED offers early stage companies the critical funding they need to scale faster. Their $50K SEED grants are awarded to innovative startups with a proven concept-even if they are not yet profitable. The funds, along with mentorship and guidance, push companies forward and reduce risk associated with growing startups. Learn more. 

Rural RISE NC stands for Resources for Innovators, Start-ups, and Entrepreneurs. Rural RISE NC initiatives connect you with mentors, business counselors, funding sources, and more. Search for resources here.