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Success Stories

Shifting from a career in the field of medicine, Ellen Colodney, MD desired a new profession serving the environment.  So, in 1999, she opened Wetland Plants in Edenton, North Carolina.  Colodney’s goal was to produce wetland and aquatic plants to be used for stormwater, wastewater, salt marsh, and shoreline projects.  She also saw this opportunity as a means to establish a supply chain on the eastern United States for Native Wetland Plants.    

Beginning her new horticulture career, Colodney, signed her first a contract with the N.C. Department of Transportation.  The contract required her to produce and ship a plant species that no one else in the country was growing.  Wetland Plants went on to become well known in the local construction industry as a result of their NCDOT contract and high-quality plants.  In fact, the company’s revenue grew at a steady pace from 1999 until 2005.  With the downturn of the economy in the 2000s, Wetland Plants profit hit a slump.

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Retiring and transitioning from the military is rarely a simple feat.  Following 31 years of service in the U.S. Army, Bob Fletcher’s experience was no different.  However, through the Army’s Warrior Transition Battalion Fletcher took advantage of an entrepreneurship training opportunity.  Following the course, he decided to couple this new knowledge with his love for cooking by starting Bob’s Smokin’ Southern BBQ in 2015. 

“Starting a small business is very challenging and takes a lot of work,” said Fletcher. “Being in the BBQ field in the heart of the BBQ belt is particularly challenging.  Ninety percent of those who enter this industry are unable to sustain their business for more than a year.  The challenge is what drives me to build and grow.”  

Starting with a single BBQ sauce recipe, Fletcher realized he had only started to learn the basics from his Army entrepreneurship classes and quickly sought out addition resources.  It did not take long before he found... Read More

Three years ago, Sun Dragon Art & Fiber opened its doors in Brevard, North Carolina with Rebecca Smith at the helm of the 500-square-foot, woman-owned yarn and art supply store.  

In 2016, Smith was contemplating the next step in her life after deciding she was ready for a change after teaching in private schools for 18 years. Realizing she could turn her love for knitting and crochet into her own business, she was determined to create a “community of yarning.”   

Initially Smith had difficulty securing financing due to an absent business record. However, after conducting a large amount of research online she discovered the SBA Community Advantage loan. Within weeks she was approved for a $50,000 loan through the Asheville, North Carolina based Mountain BizWorks, and plans for her initial purchases were developed.   

“Without the help of this loan I would not be in business,” said Smith. “It is the reason my business started.”  

In addition to... Read More

Now one might question the gifting of beehives as a holiday gift, but Jessica Wehr could not have been happier with the two beehives she received from her spouse in 2010.  In fact, beekeeping had been an interest she had wanted to pursue for some time.  Over the course of the next few years Wehr would not only become a successful beekeeper, exponentially growing her two beehives into hundreds, but she made her beloved hobby into a successful small business:  Wehrloom Honey. 

By 2013, Wehr had started selling honey-based products at farmers’ markets throughout western North Carolina.  Candles, skin care products, and of course, honey made up her first product line.  Traveling to the markets whenever she could, Wehrloom Honey quickly gained popularity and the demand for the honey-based products increased immensely. 

Having achieved a level of unanticipated success and acknowledging her sense to continue diversifying her product line, Wehr began to experience growing... Read More