The Launch ROCKY MOUNT pilot project, led by Geraud Staton, executive director of the Helius Foundation, provided training for aspiring entrepreneurs in Rocky Mount, NC, through an 8-week intensive business course. By the end of the course, attendees created a business plan and set of actions to do in order to get their business earning a fair living wage. This fair living wage is not only for the owners, but for the employees as well. Students learned fiscal responsibility, marketing, product management, work-life balance, and employee management. Additionally, Helius Foundation connected students with potential mentors throughout the community. These mentors agreed to help the participants, meeting once a month for 6 months beyond graduation from the program. Additionally, all graduates became automatically enrolled in the Helius program for coaching and monitoring, where they can meet with a coach in-person or by phone.
- IFeedNC delivers food for food truck and food entrepreneurs
- A1 Innovations provides event planning and business development consulting
- Blessing Assurance Childcare provides childcare
- Noir Envy Boutique is a women’s clothing boutique store
- Key Insurance Agency
- Especially for You is a play center for special needs children
- A&H Brands and services does drop shipping for home accessories
- Joyce Personal Tax services
- E&J’s Vision manages small rental properties
- Amazing Concepts construction and property managers
- TAH Taxes
Financial security is a struggle for most people in the United States, but for many individuals, finding financial security can seem impossible. That’s because the tools and privileges that most of us take for granted are not gifted to these individuals. Rocky Mount is an area dealing with just this issue. According to DataUSA, Rocky Mount has a poverty rate of 25.9%, which is approximately 14,000 residents. Over 11,000 of them, or 80.8% of all people in poverty, are black or African-American. Additionally, the average male salary in Rocky Mount is $47,593 as opposed to the average female salary of just $34,911. Only 51% of Rocky Mount residents own their own home. Already, signs of gentrification are showing up, with renovation happening in the heart of the city. We are already seeing poorer populations being moved out of these areas. Property values are on the rise, so this trend will only build.
The Launch ROCKY MOUNT project provided access to resources and relationships to emerging entrepreneurs and small business owners throughout Rocky Mount. Utilizing the strengths and resources of our partner organizations, Launch ROCKY MOUNT improved the number of minority and female owned businesses by improving their knowledge of business practices, to stabilize existing businesses, to establish new businesses throughout Rocky Mount, and to increase investment potential in order to bring in capital from outside the community.
Launch ROCKY MOUNT was inspired by LaunchDURHAM, a multiple-partner endeavor that is meant to provide entrepreneurial training and funding for small businesses throughout Durham county. But the problem is much larger than that, and we wish to expand the program into Rocky Mount, a city that is beginning to go through the same growth patterns as Durham did a decade ago.
- Jen Zuckerman, Duke World Food Policy Center
- Geraud Staton, Helius Foundation, principal project lead