Spring 2022 Entrepreneurial Grant Winners Awarded by Wilkes EDC
North Wilkesboro, N.C. — Six local small businesses were announced as receiving Entrepreneurial Grants from the Wilkes Economic Development Corporation at the EDC’s board meeting on Friday, June 10, 2022. This is the annual Entrepreneurial Grant Program competition awarded by the EDC, with the program being held twice this year thanks to several generous local sponsors. Fourteen local businesses of various types applied for this year’s program, including agriculture, massage therapy, pet boarding, cleaning services, and a previous grant winner who has the opportunity to expand.
Applicants were asked to submit a Video Pitch in addition to their business plans and financial summaries to give the judges insight into their proposed use of funds. Submissions were judged based on potential funding impact to the business, and the sustainability of each respective recipient. Grant amounts totaling $10,100 were distributed between the six winners.
Journey Well Thai Yoga Massage, located at 807 Main Street, Suite A in North Wilkesboro, offers traditional Thai Yoga Massage, Prenatal and Therapeutic Deep Tissue Massage. Owner Anna Thompson began her Thai Yoga Massage practice after discovering a passion for culture and inclusion on her many travels. Thompson received a $1,500 grant to go toward the cost of Grief and Trauma training to further expand the therapeutic services she offers. Anna says that she also hopes to use the training to help educate her employees on trauma-informed care. To learn more about this business or to book a session at Journey Well, please visit www.wejourneywell.com
The Green Cleaners, owned by Katie Reynolds of North Wilkesboro, is a mobile cleaning service specializing in chemical-free cleaning products that also remove allergens. Reynolds opened this business in 2019, which offers a variety of cleaning services for residential homes and vacation rental properties. The Green Cleaners received a total grant amount of $1,600. $800 will be used to purchase booking and point-of-sale software for their website, and $800 will be used to purchase an interactive training video for staff. Visit www.thegreencleaners.us to inquire about their services and the history of the business.
Stardust Cellars was previously awarded an Entrepreneurial Grant in 2019 which allowed them to manufacture and distribute their line of custom Meads. Since then, owner Nick von Cosmos has secured contracts with retail stores statewide and continues to expand. This year’s application requested grant funds to help increase their available inventory in order to meet current customer demand and expand their retail presence. Stardust Cellars was awarded $1,000 for purchasing local honey, bottles and labels needed to give them the opportunity to expand. For more on their winemaking process, go to www.stardustcellars.com or visit their location at 1202 Curtis Bridge Road in Wilkesboro.
New Journey Farm located at 1702 South Lomax Road in Ronda, NC, is a rescue farm that rehabilitates equines who have been neglected, sold for slaughter, or been injured, and rehomes them safely. Owner Jessica Bell says that most of the donkeys and horses rescued are retired from racing or were used on farms to plow or provide transportation. Once they are rehomed, these animals usually become full-use horses or emotional support animals. New Journey Farm was awarded $1,500 for needed updates to their barn and establish a system that brings water to each of the stalls. Their goal is to continue to meet the need for equine rescues in Wilkes County, heal and rehab the animals, and connect them with loving forever homes. For information on New Arrivals, becoming a Sponsor, or adopting and animal- visit www.newjourneyfarmandequinerescue.com .
Wilkes Wags & Wiggles is a new business started in Wilkes by Amanda Cowles. Wilkes Wags & Wiggles will offer boarding services, and personalized drop-in care in a safe environment for their clients’ furry friends. Amanda received $3,000 in grant funds to purchase point-of-sale CRM software program for booking, and storefront sign once her location is secured. Wilkes Wags & Wiggles plans to announce their location to the community soon. To receive updates, or learn more about their services, visit www.wilkeswagsandwiggles.com .
Caroline Bracey-Adams, Marketing & Content Manager for Wilkes EDC stated that this year’s program was, “the second year that the EDC was able to hold the grant program twice, both in the Fall and Spring. When I came to the EDC full-time, I was excited to be able to participate in continuing this program for local businesses. Not only do you learn a lot about the caliber of the small business community in Wilkes County, but it has been very rewarding to watch the innovation and growth that happens in a short amount of time. We really hope that the benefit of this program is noticed by individuals and businesses who would like to support entrepreneurship in Wilkes, and in turn contact us to become active sponsors of this program.”
Program Sponsorships are available at various levels with private and in-kind donations also accepted. All our program sponsors receive free promotional marketing on the Entrepreneurial Grant webpage, an announcement in the EDC’s Monthly Activity Report, and are honored guests at our Annual Meeting. Each level above Bronze gives the donor an opportunity to be recognized even further. “It really is a great way to market your own business,’ Bracey-Adams stated. If you are interested in supporting entrepreneurship and economic development in Wilkes County, please contact our office at (336) 838-1501 or visit our Investor Page for more information.
Robin Hamby, Vice President of Wilkes EDC has led this grant program for the past eight years. “Our sponsors make this program possible, and we are encouraged by the funding support it receives. Offering this program twice per year is necessary for both new and existing businesses; sometimes entrepreneurs cannot wait a full year for funding. We are glad to be able to offer this grant opportunity every six months.” The future of this program relies on sponsorships to encourage entrepreneurship. Wilkes EDC hopes to continue holding it twice per year in the Spring and Fall. The Spring 2022 Sponsors were: Duke Energy, Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority, Town of North Wilkesboro, Surrey Bank, First National Bank, Wilkes Community College Small Business Center, Truist and Wilkes EDC. Funding commitments for the Fall 2022 Entrepreneurial Grant Program are starting to come in, but we still sponsorships in order to meet our goal of $12,500 for the next grant cycle.
Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon thank this cycle’s judges. “Their dedication to the program is more than apparent. The Judges’ Panel represents small business supporters from both North Wilkesboro and Wilkesboro, as well as regional resources for entrepreneurs. Their experience and knowledge often provides applicants with referrals and insight they didn’t know they needed!” Spring 2022 judges were Danielle Buckins and Jimmy Flythe of Duke Energy, Crystal Keener, Town of North Wilkesboro; Thomas Salley, Wilkesboro Tourism Development Authority; and David Henson, Small Business Technology Development Center. Special thanks to Laurie Brintle-Jarvis of the Wilkes Community College Small Business Center for continuing to help applicants with their Business Plans and Financial Summaries during grant cycle and beyond. Laurie establishes relationships with businesses to ensure their success by providing free and confidential business coaching services to small business owners in Wilkes, Ashe and Allegheny counties. For information and more resources, please contact her office or visit the Small Business Center’s website.
|Wilkes Wags & Wiggles- Owner, Amanda Cowles||
Stardust Cellers- CEO, Nick von Cosmos
New Journey Farm- Resident Donkey recieves treat from Owner Jessica Bell
|Journey Well- Owner, Anna Thompson||
Swan Creek Acres- Owner, Kris Schultz
The Green Cleaners- Katie Reynolds
Wilkes Journal Patriot- The Golden LEAF Board of Directors on June 2 announced that Wilkes County was chosen for participation in a program that helps identify potential industrial sites. The Wilkes Economic Development Corp. submitted the application for Wilkes County’s participation.
Wilkes EDC President LeeAnn Nixon said a company hired by Golden LEAF will review sites submitted by the EDC and others to determine which have the greatest potential for economic development.
Nixon said the sites submitted by the EDC were already listed with information about each on its website.
“The EDC is grateful for the opportunity to be a recipient of Golden LEAF’s site identification program,” she said. "We will receive consulting services that will complement our internal efforts to identify and evaluate known and unknown sites for future industrial growth opportunities. We encourage Realtors, developers and property owners to contact us to discuss all properties that are available, especially those greater than 30 acres near infrastructure,” including water and sewer lines.
“They will tell us he sites we really should focus on,” she said. Nixon also expects to receive recommendations on what is needed to made some sites more marketable. Moore and Stokes counties were chosen for the same program.
“We’ve done what we can locally to figure this out” and look forward to receiving additional input in the company’s report, she said.
Nixon explained that site identification is the first in three stages offered by Golden LEAF, so Wilkes is now positioned to advance to the next two.
In the second stage, Golden LEAF provides funds to enable completion of due diligence on sites already identified, extend public utilities, or conduct rough grading and clearing of sites for which due diligence has been completed. Surry was among counties recently chosen for this. Surry was awarded $39,650 for the Westwood Industrial Park.
In the third stage, Golden LEAF provides funds for extension of water or sewer lines or other public infrastructure work to sites with diligence completed.
“Our goal, after completing this (first) step, is to return to Golden LEAF for assistance with the next phases of their program,” she said.
“A key element to move Wilkes forward is being able to identify where an existing or new company can locate. Land needs to identified that can be acquired and developed at a price point that allows growth to be feasible,” said Nixon
Read the full Press Release here.
May 17, 2022- Doug Rice, President of the Performance Racing Network, welcomed the group to the 75th Anniversary of the North Wilkesboro Speedway- which originally opened on May 18th, 1947 with a Dirt Modified race. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, State Officials, Speedway Motorsports Representatives and Community Leaders were in attendance at this event in 2022 celebrating the future of the facility. Marcus Smith of Speedway Motorsports spoke to the group about his excitement for the revitalization of the speedway. He stated that the overwhelming local effort supporting this effort was a real testament to an amazing community. In 2020 Smith had a conversation with racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. about getting the speedway onto the I-Racing network, which was once again supported by local efforts. These things came together to spark an initiative to bring back the North Wilkesboro Speedway, an effort which snowballed after the announcement from Governor Cooper designating funds to infrastructure improvements at the facility. Plans for the speedway include restoration that keeps the historical flair intact.
Then, Secretary Reid Wilson of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Affairs made an announcement about plans for a Moonshine and Motorsports Trail in North Carolina. The trail will help preserve motorsports and distilling culture, while promoting businesses currently in those industries. The department will partner with many organization across the state during this initiative. The trail is set to be launched in January of 2023, which is officially 'The Year of the Trail' in North Carolina.
Governor Roy Cooper excitedly spoke about the rejuvenation of the Speedway and seeing the project come to fruition. Investing in the speedways and dragways across the state was planned in the revitalization efforts for the state's economy and tourism after COVID. He recognized the efforts of everyone involved both on a local and state level, including the Wilkes Economic Development team who worked with the state budget office on this project months before its announcement. 'We Got You Back' rang loudly across the crowd before Governor Cooper was presented with a personalized one-of-a-kind retro racing jacket by Marcus Smith.
On May 18th, 2022 the public is welcome to come to the North Wilkesboro Speedway for a 75th Anniversary celebration.
For full video of this presentation, please click here.
Wilkes Journal Patriot- "Plans for construction of a TownePlace Suites and Fairfield Inn by Marriott hotel in Wilkesboro were announced Friday by Wilkesboro-based Spectrum Hospitality Management LLC.
Marriott International awarded the franchise for building the 104-room hotel on Spectrum’s property behind the Olive Garden Restaurant on U.S. 421 West.
Spectrum Hospitality develops and operates hotels in the North Carolina and South Carolina. This will mark the fourth and fifth hotels owned by Spectrum in Wilkesboro.
The new hotel will have 52 extended stay rooms in the TownePlace Suites by Marriott and 52 traditional hotel rooms in the Fairfield Inn by Marriott.
The duel-branding allows for two hotels to occupy one building. "That allows the property to offer both long term stay rooms with kitchens and other features that meet the needs of longer stays and rooms geared for shorter stays," said Dale Isom of Spectrum Hospitality.
It will feature an indoor saline pool, large 24-hour fitness center, outdoor recreation areas and a small lounge on the top floor with views of the Brushy Mountains “and many other modern amenities,” said Isom.
It will also have “an upscale lobby and meeting spaces, upscale guestrooms that provide comforts and features that allow the guests to be productive during their stay and have a great night’s sleep,” he added.
“We are extremely happy to make this announcement for Wilkes County. We currently own and operate both a SpringHill Suites and a TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Mooresville and we look forward to bringing a Marriott branded property to Wilkes County”, said Isom.
“With our ownership group being all local folks, growing in Wilkes County is one of our top priorities. We believe this hotel will allow us to meet both current and future needs of local businesses and the traveling public.”
The new hotel is being designed by Isom Ham Design Group (IHDG) PA, a local architectural firm that has designed over 600 hotels over the past 34 years.
Once the design is completed and a general contractor has been identified, Spectrum Hospitality plans to begin construction on the Marriott TownePlace Suites and Fairfield Inn hotels in the spring of 2023. The hotels should be completed and open in early 2024, said Dale Isom of Spectrum Hospitality.
Spectrum Hospitality owns and operates two hotels in Wilkes County - the Hampton Inn by Hilton and the Holiday Inn Express by IHG.
Additionally, Spectrum Hospitality recently purchased the old Red Carpet Inn on N.C. 268 West in Wilkesboro. The old Red Carpet Inn was originally a full-service Holiday Inn and has served Wilkes County for over 50 years.
“Plans are being developed for the future of the old Holiday Inn as we plan to renovate the hotel and make it a very nice property”, said Daniel Isom, president of Spectrum Hospitality Management LLC. “We have lots of options open to us presently and we are working to make sure that this landmark hotel will have a place in Wilkes for many years to come.”
May Small Business Spotlight: We sat down with Mick Zulpo, Owner of 'The Block' in North Wilkesboro. The Block is a Family Entertainment Facility offering Roller Skating, Trampoline Park, Ninja Warrior Course and more! Mick also shares that his desire, along with his wife Aynsley, is to create a community oriented center that offers a diverse range of services for children beyond just play. Learn more about that, and hear his advice for Entrepreneurs in this month's Small Business Spotlight. Reserve your spot at The Block by visiting www.TheBlockWilkes.com To learn more about starting a business, visit www.WilkesEDC.com/contact