For years it was a vibrant center of activity, serving as a Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club. Following the group’s move to a new facility, the multi-story building on South Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive stood vacant and might have ultimately been condemned and dismantled.
Fortunately, people of vision connected with Winston-Salem State University stepped in and soon were joined by business leaders and educational institutions across the community. On September 30, their dream became a reality with the formal opening of The Enterprise Center, a combination business incubator and community education center with an impressive list of collaborative partners actively working to ensure its long-term success.
Here, start-up firms and emerging businesses will benefit from affordable office space plus a comprehensive array of support services from business professionals and organizations as well as faculty from WSSU, Wake Forest University, Forsyth Technical Community College, North Carolina Central University and other area schools.
One-of-a-kind in Winston-Salem
“There is nothing like this in Winston-Salem,” said Carol Davis, executive director of the S.G. Atkins Community Development Corporation, a WSSU partner agency that obtained funding to purchase and renovate the site. “The need has been widely recognized, and response has been amazing from other educational institutions and groups focused on economic development and entrepreneurial support.”
Initial moves into the business incubator on the second floor of The Enterprise Center began in July. “Our CDC staff relocated here from Winston Towers. Joining us are staff members from The Center for Entrepreneurship in the WSSU School of Business and Economics. Other partners include Forsyth Tech Small Business Center, Wake Forest Community Law and Business Clinic, North Carolina Central University, Microenterprise Loan Program, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, Winston-Salem Black Chamber of Commerce and the City of Winston-Salem,” said Davis.
Response has been extremely positive. “We have 16 small businesses operating from the center, with all office spaces already leased,” she pointed out.
The center is focused on green business practices in its own operations, and seminars promote sustainability. One of the initial tenants, Volt Energy, installed solar panels on the roof of the center. North Carolina A&T State University Center for Energy Research and Technology was also involved by performing an energy audit and measuring the anticipated energy savings from installation of efficient HVAC and efficient lighting.
Leading-edge learning center
The first floor of The Enterprise Center has been renovated to serve as a multi-purpose community learning center. The WSSU School of Health Sciences has relocated from campus to its new 3,400 square-foot space featuring a state-of-the-art simulation lab and virtual hospital. Also on the first floor, the former gym is being transformed into a high-tech conference center that is already being viewed as an ideal venue for community and university functions.
Seminars are underway for businesses and individuals; all are free and open to the public. Dates and times are listed on the Events Calendar. Registration is required. You can register by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 336-734-6900.
“This is a carefully planned and well-appointed facility that will serve the community in many ways, both immediately and long term,” said Davis. “Here, new and emerging businesses are being nurtured. Jobs are being created. Free educational seminars are being provided for neighborhood residents and businesses across the community. Neighborhood association meetings are held here. In its first year, a community garden produced almost 2,000 pounds of fresh produce – most of which was donated to local food banks – while providing opportunities to demonstrate effective growing practices and emphasize the importance of healthy eating.”
The CDC plans to continue and expand all of these activities as well as acquiring vacant houses in the neighborhood to help provide more affordable housing opportunities in this area.
Davis encourages the community to become involved as volunteers and as supporters, directly or through the center’s “Buy a Brick” campaign. For details, email email@example.com or call 336-734-6900.
The Enterprise Center at a Glance:
- The Enterprise Center is a combination business incubator/community learning center, offering start-up and emerging companies an exceptional level of support during their formative stage.
- The Enterprise Center is an initiative of the S.G. Atkins Community Development Corporation, a partner agency of WSSU.
- The mission of The Enterprise Center is to be a catalyst for business and community collaborations; provide resources and support for “Green” ventures in the Triad; encourage social entrepreneurship; support economic growth opportunities for small businesses; enhance community health and wellness outreach; and provide experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.
- The 11,000-square-foot center has applied for LEED certification and will emphasize sustainability in its practices and processes.
Business owners locating in the incubator will benefit from:
- Support from The Enterprise Center in business fundamentals and economic development tools
- Mentoring by qualified professionals
- On-site business workshops, counseling and legal services
- Networking opportunities
- Access to micro-enterprise loan funding and other financial partners
- Marketing support, including company description on S.G. Atkins CDC/Enterprise Center website
- A competitive rental rate, including utilities
- Availability of furnished offices (used)
- On-site parking
- Large conference/training room; small conference room
- Receptionist on duty 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday thru Friday
- Access to administrative services at small cost; copier/fax/scanner
- Attractive common areas , break room and kitchen
- High-speed internet access and phone lines
- Audiovisual equipment
- Resource library
- Free onsite parking for Associates and visitors (see Occupancy Agreement for number of allocated spaces per Associate)
- 24/7 key card access
- Mailbox and weekday U.S. mail delivery and pickup
- Internal mailbox
- Fed Ex and UPS pickup and deliveries
- No door-to-door soliciting
- Equipment to clean your own office
- Annual survey whereby an Associate can score management and the Center
Who can lease office space within The Enterprise Center?
To be eligible to lease space and become an Associate of The Enterprise Center, you must be a start-up, emerging for-profit business or not-for-profit organization. A subsidiary or franchise can be an Associate as long as it operates independently.
An applicant must submit a business plan for approval before being accepted as an Associate. If an Associate does not have a business plan, we will counsel the applicant in putting together a business plan. Associates must continue to provide financial information to The Enterprise Center as requested on a quarterly basis. An Associate is expected to sign a one-year lease with option to renew.
Meet one of the business owners moving into The Enterprise Center. Click Here to View the Volt Energy Video
The 11,000-square-foot center has applied for LEED certification and will emphasize sustainability in its practices and processes. For example:
- The center’s HVAC system will provide superior indoor air quality and energy efficiency in heating and cooling.
- Censors on the light switches turn lights on when someone enters a room and turn them off when they leave.
- Appliances and office equipment are Energy Star rated.
- Recycled materials and furnishings were used in the renovation.
- Paints, adhesives and building materials are low VOC-emitting materials.
- North Carolina A&T State University Center for Energy Research and Technology (CERT) was also involved by performing an energy audit and measuring the anticipated energy savings from installation of efficient HVAC and efficient lighting.
- Winston-Salem State University School of Business and Economics Center for Entrepreneurship
- City of Winston-Salem
- Forsyth Tech Small Business Center
- Wake Forest Community Law and Business Clinic
- Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce
- Micro-Enterprise Loan Program
- North Carolina Central University
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Why do small businesses fail and how can an incubator help?
According to the Small Business Administration, more than 30% of new businesses fail within the first two years, over 50% fail within five years or more, and around 70% fail before their 10th anniversary. In 2007, North Carolina created 45,620 new businesses. That same year, 38,691 businesses failed.
Studies show that the top two reasons for failure are management inexperience and insufficient capital. Other reasons small businesses fail include:
- Inadequate planning
- Lack of market knowledge
- Failure to seek advice of a professional
- Lack of financial planning and review
- Owners concentrating on tactical instead of strategic issues
Business incubators work with entrepreneurs to abate risk, to solve problems faster, to shorten the learning curve, and to improve their likelihood of success. And it works – according to a Department of Commerce study, 87% of all small businesses who had been through a business incubator were still in business after five years.
We are members of the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA).