Polk one of N.C.’s first Certified Entrepreneurial Communities

Published 6:02 pm Friday, September 3, 2010

Polk County has become one of only seven communities in 23 Western North Carolina counties to receive the designation of a Certified Entrepreneurial Community (CEC). Scott Hamilton, President of AdvantageWest, will present the certification to the Polk County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday evening.
The CEC program was developed by AdvantageWest and was the first program in the country to certify communities as “entrepreneur-ready.” When the program was first announced several years ago, the Polk County Economic Development Commission set a top priority to join the program.
In making the presentation, Hamilton said, “Increasingly, communities in Western North Carolina and across the country are recognizing the value of entrepreneurism as a strong foundation for economic growth. AdvantageWest is pleased to certify Polk County for their commitment to ensure entrepreneurs have the resources, support and access to capital that can help them succeed.”
Ambrose Mills, chair of the Polk Economic Development Commission, said, “By achieving CEC certification, we are recognized for our commitment to encourage and support entrepreneurship while improving the business climate for existing companies. To achieve this certification, our efforts included an extensive assessment the communitys current entrepreneurial landscape, creating a comprehensive strategy for entrepreneurial growth, marshaling the communitys entrepreneurial resources, and identifying and nurturing the communitys most promising entrepreneurial talents.”
The commissioners and Mills will recognize former EDC member Joann Miksa-Blackwell who chaired the team that included leaders from the EDC and from the Foothills Chamber of Commerce.
“It took a lot of work from a lot of volunteers in Polk County who stuck together throughout this rigorous process to earn certification. We heartily congratulate the Polk leadership team for their efforts.” Hamilton said.
Some of the benefits Polk County will receive through the program include: participation in a co-op marketing campaign through AdvantageWest to attract new businesses to the area, permanent highway signage showing the CEC designation, inclusion in a CEC website that is now under development and will highlight entrepreneurial success stories, the unique assets of the community, resources and infrastructure, and the Polk CEC leadership, improved access to capital through the AdvantageWest “Advantage Opportunity Fund” revolving loan program, ongoing leadership development opportunities, andpeer-to-peer networking with other CEC communities in the region.
Pam Lewis, who heads Entrepreneurial Development for AdvantageWest, said, “The Polk County CEC team has sought and continues to seek opportunities for their entrepreneurs by connecting them to valuable resources within the region and state. For example, they provided their entrepreneurs the means and transportation to our Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council networking events and our Carolina Connect conference for entrepreneurs and investors. They even took entrepreneurial development to the airwaves with a weekly radio show and into the classroom with a high school idea bank contest. These are a few examples of how enthusiastic and engaged this team has been.”
The Polk Economic Development Commission is an agency of Polk County government established to help create good paying jobs, enhance entrepreneurial opportunities, preserve existing businesses and provide sound economic advice to Polk leaders. The commission consists of twelve appointed citizens who have a wide array of experiences in business.

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