Business training for skilled hands makes skilled entrepreneurs

Published 9:17 pm Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mountain BizWorks, Polk County Economic Development Commission and Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce are partnering to offer a one-day business planning retreat on Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Depot Room in Tryon.  This collaboration signifies a fundamental  understanding of the value of business training, coaching, and lending that rural communities need in order to succeed in a competitive business environment.
Mountain BizWorks is proud to highlight the successes of local businesses that have made the non-profit a part of their story.  One such story is of Foothills Plumbing, a family-owned business started by Shaun Jenne of Mill Spring.
Like so many others in rural areas that started out in the textile industry .
Shaun was caught by the 1990s disappearance of factory jobs. He was left wondering what to do next.
Jenne said, “I quit high school in 11th grade to secure my future by working for a textile factory that has since gone out of business.  I did earn my diploma through night school, all while changing jobs and grabbing all the overtime I could get.”
Next, Jenne entered what he calls the “rank and file blue collar workforce” as a plumbing apprentice with a licensed journeyman.
Jenne recalls, “I attended the Blue Ridge Community College plumbing program.”
An entrepreneurial spirit always resided in Jenne and, despite having no family business inheritance, experience or training, he decided to set out on his own and start his business.
In 2003 Jenne discovered Mountain BizWorks, and he traded in his rank and file status for that of a leader and a “buck stops here” decision maker.
“Jo Ann got me in the class and I’ve been so grateful ever since,” he said.  I actually esteem the experience as highly as I do receiving my adult high school diploma.  It set me free to be the success I am today, for my family, my wife and five children.”
Jenne had a lot of emotional paralysis and fear about opening his own business, but the class experience was highly interactive with lots of peer support.
“I am fond of the memories to this day, still have my course manual and class certification picture.  We’ve grown slowly but with confidence, and I credit Mountain BizWorks for giving me the business mind to learn how to operate,” he said.  It modeled for me everything I needed to know from planning to start-up to marketing and writing a mission statement.  We live by every word of that mission statement still today, 10 years after taking the training.”
Foothills Plumbing went from a dream to success in less than a year.  “I remember Shaun Jenne as the student that had determination and lots of questions,” says Mountain BizWorks’ Rural Entrepreneurship Director Jo Ann Miksa-Blackwell. “Sometimes all people need are answers to their questions. Equipped with answers to important questions, Shaun launched his business and he never looked back. What I see now is a successful entrepreneur that has worked hard to achieve his goals. As a result, his family and other employees have gained a foothold in our economy. It is people like Shaun Jenne that give me hope for our economic future.”
Register today for the Lighthouse One-Day Business Planning Retreat. Like Jenne, you can have your pathway to success illuminated, your planning process refined and your business idea or growth objectives launched. Each business receives tools and resources to track and project cash flow as well as hone marketing ideas into a strategy. At the end of the day, attendees will have an action plan for getting a business idea or expansion off the ground with a template that they can build on over time.
This event is co-sponsored by the Polk County Economic & Tourism Development Commission and Carolina Foothills Chamber of Commerce. For more information or to register, contact Ashley Epling at (828) 253-2834 ext. 27 or
Mountain BizWorks is a non-profit that helps small businesses start, grow and create jobs through loans, classes and coaching. FARE of the Carolinas is an initiative that delivers Mountain BizWorks services to small towns and rural communities with an emphasis agricultural businesses.
-article submitted by
Jo Ann Miksa-Blackwell

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