Say you’ve got an idea for a business. Or maybe you want to take your existing business to the next level. Now you need the tools to help you put those ideas into action. Here are a few local resources to get you started:
• A-B Tech’s Small Business Center offers free business counseling, a resource center, workshops and other educational opportunities (A-B Tech’s Enka campus, 1465 Sand Hill Road, Suite 1060, Candler; 254-1921; www1.abtech.edu/sbc).
• The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Department provides information and seminars to help folks start and grow a small business in Asheville (36 Montford Ave., Asheville; 258-6101; www.ashevillechamber.org).
• The Asheville chapter of SCORE, a national nonprofit, enlists experienced business people as volunteers providing free counseling (151 Patton Ave. in downtown Asheville, Room 259 of the Federal Building; 271-4786; http://ashevillescore.org).
• Blue Ridge Food Ventures, a program of AdvantageWest, rents a large shared-use kitchen to entrepreneurs who need a place to produce and package foods (A-B Tech’s Enka campus, 1461 Sand Hill Road, Candler; 348-0128; www.advantagewest.com).
• The Center for Community Self-Help and its financing affiliates, including the Self-Help Credit Union, “provide financing, technical support, consumer financial services and advocacy for those left out of the economic mainstream,” according to its website (34 Wall St., Suite 704, Asheville; 253-5251; www.self-help.org).
• The nonprofit Eagle Market Streets Development Corp. develops “people, property and businesses,” focusing on minority-owned and -operated businesses. A new session of BLOCK Academy starts Sept. 29: The free, 14-week intensive entrepreneurship and job-creation training program is “aimed at equipping participants to be able to better compete in the mainstream marketplace,” CEO Stephanie S. Twitty explains (70 S. Market St., Asheville; 281-1227; www.eaglemarketsts.net).
• Mountain BizWorks, a nonprofit community-development organization, supports entrepreneurship in 12 Western North Carolina counties through lending, consulting and training, offering services in English and Spanish. Its Women’s Business Center targets female entrepreneurs (153 S. Lexington Ave., Asheville; 253-2834; http://mountainbizworks.org).
• The SheBIZ Alliance is a women’s networking and referral group providing a noncompetitive environment for connecting with other business owners and developing business leads (1456 Patton Ave. Suite C, Asheville; 230-8112; http://shebizalliance.com).
• The Small Business Administration’s WNC office has information on small-business loans, grants, bonds and other financial assistance (29 Haywood St., Asheville; 225-1844; www.sba.gov).
• Small Business and Technology Development Center, an extension service of the University of North Carolina, provides training and expertise to small and midsize businesses and startups (Two offices through Western Carolina University: 68 Patton Ave. (in the lobby of the Bank of America Building), Asheville; 251-6025; and 226 Forsyth Building, WCU College of Business, Cullowhee; 227-3504; www.sbtdc.org).
— — Tracy Rose