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Wednesday, 23 May 2012 20:03

Business community lends a hand with start-up grants

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Two businesses — Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon, and Belle on Main Salon and Spa — came out winners during the Haywood Chamber of Commerce’s seventh annual Business Start-up Competition this year.

Thirteen entrepreneurs contended for the $10,000 prize purse this year. The competition is judged by a four-person panel of representatives from the economic development and financial sectors in the county. The field is then narrowed to two before a winner is announced. However, this year, both finalists were named victors, splitting the money in half.

“Both have a great deal of passion. They have a passion that they eat, breathe and sleep,” said Charles Umberger, chairman of the Chamber’s Business and Economic Development Committee and president and CEO of Old Town Bank.

Contestants had to submit a detailed business plan describing their concept, current progress and future goals. While the winning businesses get a tangible boost in their start-up venture, one virtue of the competition is simply encouraging entrepreneurs to formulate a business plan, so even those who don’t win are still better off for going through the process.

The winning submissions had “lots of good things,” Umberger said.

Small businesses account for millions and millions of new jobs in the U.S. every year. That is why the chamber and other sponsors continue to reward quality small business ideas annually, Umberger said.

“Small business matters in the United States. It matters big time,” Umberger said.

A key pillar of economic development is to promote the start-up and expansion of local and small businesses in Haywood County.

“I have never been anywhere as entrepreneur-friendly as Haywood County,” said Ken Flynt, a longtime banking executive, finance professor at Western Carolina University and Chamber board member. “This really is a great place for entrepreneurs.”

In addition to the chamber, other competition sponsors include BB&T, Old Town Bank, Evergreen Packaging, Haywood Vocational Opportunities, Beverly Hanks, Clark & Leatherwood, Northwestern Mutual, Smoky Mountain Development, Haywood County Economic Development Commission, the Western Carolina University College of Business, Haywood Advancement Foundation, Aermor and Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center.

 

Artisan foods, salon take prize for best business plan

The winners of this year’s Haywood County Chamber of Commerce Business Start-up Competition represent the two sides of business — goods and service.

One provides a valued service to consumers, while the other sells quality products. Each received $5,000 for winning the contest for entrepreneurs with the promise of creating jobs this year.

Belle on Main Salon and Spa

Belle on Main Salon and Spa opened less than a month ago on South Main Street in Waynesville. The business is a full-service salon and owned by Joey Del Bosque, who previously worked solely as a masseur.

“I’ve been self-employed for a very longtime, and this was an opportunity to branch out,” Del Bosque said.

Del Bosque is a certified massage therapist with 16 years experience and received his certification in cosmetic arts from Haywood Community College. He also holds a business and accounting degree and worked as an accountant for 10 years.

The salon is “ clean, bright, new, modern,” said Charles Umberger, the president of Old Town Bank who announced the winners on behalf of the chamber at a luncheon last week. The business plan was impressive because it exhibited Del Bosque’s money management background, with goals, projections and budgets, Umberger said.

The salon has been a dream for Del Bosque for a while, and he was able to reach out to others for help.

“By God, he pulled it off,” Umberger said. “Through family, friends and angels, he got some start-up financing.”

Del Bosque will use the money from the competition to advertise his new business, helping to ensure its success.

“(The money) means an opportunity to launch our name,” Del Bosque said.

Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon

The second time’s a charm for Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon. After entering the competition last year, the owners, a pair of sisters-in-law, decided to try again and took home half of this year’s $10,000 prize.

Dayna Stubee and Jessica DeMarco started the venture about a year ago and are the sole employees. The business makes and sells jams, pickles and other artisan foods using ingredients from six local farms.

“It is something we have always done as a family thing,” DeMarco said. Both women have degrees in culinary arts.

The business has no storefront currently, but they sell their goods at the Historic Waynesville Farmers Market and on Etsy.com. With the money, the pair plans to hire a part-time employee and expand their production.

Part of the reason they were chosen was because of their focus on handcrafted items and local sustainability, Umberger said.

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