The Winston-Salem Urban League is partnering with the City of Winston-Salem and Wake Forest University to offer small businesses the knowledge and expertise they need to thrive.
The partners will offer the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Clinic at the Urban League’s Quality of Life Center on Patterson Avenue. The City will provide training seminars, while the Wake Forest Community Law and Business Clinic will offer legal training relevant to entrepreneurs and legal services to participating businesses.
“I wanted to create a program that actually would help move small businesses along to ensure the success of these businesses as much as possible,” said Urban League President and CEO Keith Grandberry.
The year-long program will initially start with a small group of small business owners taking several weeks of seminars. Grandberry hopes the initial crop of participants includes both established business owners and those with new businesses. There will be an application process for prospective participants. The clinic is expected to start next month. Plans are for the program to take on more businesses over time.
Walter Farabee Jr., the City’s Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprise Program coordinator, said seminar topics will include business plan development, financial management, market analyses and advertising.
“A lot of people are interested in starting businesses but they don’t know exactly where to start and aren’t aware of the resources here in the area,” said Farabee. “So this is a great opportunity for them whether they’re actually starting or just have some ideas floating around.”
Steve Virgil, founding director of the Wake Forest Community Law and Business Clinic, and WFU Law alumni will lead workshops at the Clinic covering topics like managing human resource issues, reading financial statements and complying with regulatory, license and tax requirements.
After the group workshops are completed, participants will meet one-on-one with WFU law students for legal advice. Under Virgil’s supervision, the students will take on more involved, long term roles to serve the businesses’ legal needs. WFU has helped local residents since 2009, but Virgil said the UL clinic will be the first time the law clinic has offered its services in such an integrated way, turning workshop attendees into clients.
“It gives us an opportunity to serve more people and serve them in a more dynamic way,” he said. “…I’m very hopeful we’ll have a bigger impact and better impact in the groups we’re working with.”
The State of Small Business and Entrepreneurship in 2012 report put out by the State’s Small Business and Technology Center found that small businesses were vital to the economy. In 2009, 98 percent of businesses with employees in the state were considered small business with less than 500 employees. The report also found that there has been a decline in businesses owned by sole proprietors, but that income is up for small business owners and that they are hiring more employees.
For information on how to apply for the Small Business and Entrepreneurial Clinic, contact the Urban League at (336) 725-5614.