By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
You may have seen the sign at the Park-side entrance to Cherokee designating the town as a Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC). Well, what does that mean?
Advantage West Economic Development Group established the CEC program in the early 2000s as a way to recognize communities that are fostering an environment whereby entrepreneurship could occur.
“The CEC designation will identify Cherokee as a community committed to developing and supporting small business,” said Hope Huskey, a business development specialist with Cherokee Business Development. “Through the CEC process, we have been able to improve and expand our training and seminar offerings; develop a program to generate entrepreneurship in Cherokee Central Schools; and create a money management program that helps participants improve/build credit and learn how to budget.”
“Through all this,” Huskey said, “the CEC certification should bring about a diverse business economy, create jobs, increase levy, and promote Cherokee.”
According to Advantage West, to receive CEC designation a community must go through a five-step process including:
- Assuring that the community is committed to the process
- Assessing the community’s current entrepreneurial landscape
- Creating a comprehensive strategy for entrepreneurial growth
- Marshaling the community’s entrepreneurial resources
- Identifying and nurturing the community’s most promising entrepreneurial talents.
“Entrepreneurs are welcomed here,” Advantage West said on its website about Cherokee. “There are tax incentives, no state sales tax or property taxes, and excellent resources for starting or relocating a business. Qualla Boundary is a delightful, distinctive place to live and have a business.”
Along with Cherokee, other CEC communities designated by the program include the counties of Burke, Haywood, Mitchell, Polk, Transylvania and Watauga.
“The CEC designation tells the world that this is an attractive place to establish a business because of the network of support services and the overall entrepreneurial climate here,” said Russ Seagle, senior loan officer with The Sequoyah Fund. “Anyone attracted to Cherokee because we are a CEC will find people and systems ready to help them with almost anything their small business requires.”