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And they’re off! Graduates of entrepreneurial class are future of East Winston

And they’re off! Graduates of entrepreneurial class are future of East Winston
May 20
14:04 2020

By John Railey

Graduates of the inaugural class of the East Winston version of the “Playbook for Entrepreneurial Excellence” took their virtual graduation, the new normal now, in stride Saturday. They know as much, or more, about tenacity under adverse circumstances as any graduates, and they are determined to change their community for the better.

The class is offered through Tate Consulting and Winston-Salem State University’s Center for the Study of Economic Mobility (CSEM). The eight-week program for business vets, WSSU students and others is aimed at growing minority business in East Winston. Dr. Antwain Tate Goode, the president of Tate Consulting, and his wife, Andrea La Mone Goode, the company’s vice president, started the class to give back to East Winston, and developed the partnership with CSEM through Alvin Atkinson, CSEM’s associate director. The initial graduation was a celebration of the spirit of giving back to East Winston.

As Antwain Goode said, the graduates’ “collaboration, support, and get-it-done spirit pushed every participant to come up with new off-the-rooftop ideas. My entrepreneurs have clarity of thought and energy which are both needed to represent their products and services.”

CSEM Founding Director Craig Richardson applauded the inspiring nature of the graduates’ stories, and said he looks forward to following the rest of their journeys. 

The graduates are Dexter Perkins, Tyler Chisolm, Dustin Sellers, Tammy McKoy, Jillian Benson, Logan Lash and Roberto Vandergrift. Class members are required to live in and/or plan to establish a business in East Winston. To win a place in the class, they each had to write an essay about what their legacy impact will be on East Winston. The class includes WSSU students and business vets and a young mother. Some plan to start businesses. Others plan to start nonprofits. Their goals range from improving health to empowering youth. They all share a commitment to improving East Winston.

Starting a business or nonprofit is hard anywhere and especially in East Winston, where economic development has long been stymied. The graduates will join burgeoning efforts to reverse that trend. They spoke Saturday of faith, purpose, energy, determination and hope.

The classes started at the Enterprise Center on Martin Luther King Drive, then moved to a virtual setting as the shelter-in-place rules of the pandemic began. The lively class carries a variety of lessons, including how to write a business letter, create a logo and mission and vision statement, and website. Quinton Benson, a WSSU graduate who started his own business, Royalty Branding, helped the students brand their businesses and nonprofits.

At the commencement, it was clear that the class members and the Goodes have become close. “To see the confidence grow from class one to the end was amazing,” Andrea Goode said. “Watching each student reach back to lift each other up was great. The many hurdles of this season did not deter their faith that they would complete the course and serve their community.”

The Goodes spoke at the ceremony and so did each class member, sharing laughter and memories of pushing each other along, through the pandemic and other challenges. One gets the sense that they will all support each other in the years ahead. That is an important tool in their arsenal. 

They have another significant tool: The class equips them well to be certified as operators of Historically Underutilized Business. This certification is designed to promote economic opportunities for historically underutilized businesses in state government contracting and procurement, the Goodes explained, and without it, small businesses cannot compete for state projects.

One hope is that the new entrepreneurs will be able to scale-up their small businesses, a long-standing challenge in East Winston. 
The Goodes, with one child in high school and the other in college, know a bit about tenacity needed to meet such challenges. Andrea Goode had a stroke five years ago. As she recovered, she and her husband, who’d both held high-level jobs in other companies, decided to start Tate Consulting and give something back to Winston-Salem. “We saw a gap,” Andrea Goode said.

Their mission fits with CSEM’s embrace of the “Our Place, Our Space” strategy of addressing generational poverty in the neighborhoods around the WSSU campus in East Winston by encouraging business development. The Goodes’ program will complement CSEM’s Community Acceleration Research Track, which awards grants of up to $12,500 to community residents, organizations and individuals, including WSSU students, who are striving for economic mobility through workforce development, health and wellbeing, and growth of businesses for social good.
The new graduates now take their place among those efforts. We welcome their fresh and determined spirit. 

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