SCC’s Small Business Center hosted a roundtable discussion with Rep. Brendan Jones on Friday, July 28, in the auditorium. Local small business owners listened to what Jones is doing for the business community in Columbus County and raised their concerns. Jones serves as the Deputy leader and as one of the senior appropriators in the N.C. General Assembly.
Jones explained that appropriating more tax dollars to community colleges for facility construction will attract new businesses to southeastern North Carolina because colleges will have the means to train the workforce. Jones said the legislature is investing millions of dollars into new facilities in Columbus County. As a big supporter of transportation, Jones said that road construction and repair is a top priority for the state budget.
“If I had the opportunity to bring a factory to Columbus County that will employ 400 people, we’ve got a real problem,” Jones said. “We don’t have that kind of workforce. But if we can get an industry that hires 20 people and pays $40,000 a year with benefits, that’s really huge for us.”
SCC Small Business Center Director Pamela Young-Jacobs facilitated a question and answer session and provided support and details on what the SBC can do for the small business owners at the event. A microphone was provided to audience members to speak. Jones heard questions dealing with availability of labor, capital, knowledge about resources, healthcare, restaurants, electric vehicles, small business funding from the legislature and entertainment businesses for youth.
“The growth of a county starts with your education – your community college and your schools,” Jones said. “That’s why we’re investing so much money in new buildings so that kids have a sense of pride. So, they’re not having to go into rooms with no heat or air or bathrooms aren’t working because that’s not conducive to learning.”
SCC Executive Vice President Dr. Sylvia Cox made closing remarks for the event and reminded the audience on Jones’ advice to manage money, have a mentor and love the product or service your business provides.
“Being aware of what’s going on in your state with your legislative body is critically important because a lot of the issues we have happen in Raleigh,” Cox said. “Having him [Jones] there is incredible.”
Young-Jacobs described the roundtable discussion as “highly productive and enlightening.” She said that entrepreneurs were “provided with an excellent platform to express their thoughts and pose relevant questions related to their businesses.”
“The event aimed to foster constructive dialogue, enabling entrepreneurs to learn about various programs, funding opportunities and valuable resources to empower their businesses,” Young-Jacobs said. “Rep. Jones offered insightful guidance and actionable solutions, illustrating his commitment to nurturing and sustaining a thriving business ecosystem in the region.”