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Northeast State's Blountville campus hosting "Grow Your Business" Workshops featuring two downtown business owners

April 21, 2014

Northeast State's Workforce Solutions will offer three workshops this spring and summer designed to boost business growth. The seminars are offered through a grant from the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship. Based on the experience and insight of local successful entrepreneurs, the seminar will challenge participants to develop an action plan and take away the confidence to grow an existing company or launch a start-up. The speakers include Allen Hurley, April 29; Mayor Dan Eldridge, May 27; and Karen Hester, June 24. The hours for each workshop are 5:45 – 8:30 pm. A light dinner will be served with each workshop. Each speaker will present the most important lessons they learned about business growth. Attendees will have the opportunity to develop their own plans with the speaker’s guidance and recommendations. The fee for each event is $30, with a $10 discount for chamber members. To register, contact Diana Harrison at 423.354.5520 or dlharrison@NortheastState.edu. The workshops will be held in the Wayne G. Basler Library on the College's Blountville campus, 2425 Highway 75.

Bristol resident Hurley is a successful entrepreneur and community leader. He started a wireless phone repair business out of a neighbor's garage and grew the business to more than 2,700 employees with four facilities and approaching a quarter billion in annual sales.

In 2010 Touchstone was named one of Fortune magazines top 5000 privately held companies. Touchstone pioneered innovation in one of the fastest growing consumer electronic sectors in history. He sold the business in 2010, to a Fortune 500 company.

Since then, he has created public and private partnerships that continue to stimulate economic development and jobs while successfully developing over 300,000 square feet of commercial and residential real estate.

Johnson City Mayor Dan Eldridge is a graduate of East Tennessee State University where he majored in Construction Management. In 1987 he joined Summit Communications, Inc. in Jackson, Miss., as general manager and led the company in growing more than 300 percent in three years.

In 1990, Eldridge founded Com-Net Construction Services, Inc. The company became a nationwide provider of wireless communications infrastructure development and services before merging with SBA Telecommunications in 1999. The combined company, SBA Communications Corp., has since become an international provider of communications tower leasing and network services. From 2003 through 2008 Eldridge focused on residential and commercial real estate development. In 2010 he was elected Mayor of Washington County.
Karen Hester grew up in Marion, Va., and in 1993 she fell in love with Bristol, especially historic downtown. In 2001, she became part of the "downtown community" by selling antiques at the State Street Antique Mall. Her entrepreneurship and passion for business led her to open her own business a few short months later.

Karen has successfully grown her business and has become an anchor store for Downtown Bristol. She has now expanded her store, Cranberry Lane, into a 15,000 square foot location and sells, home decor, gifts, gourmet food, and old fashioned candy. Hester's desire to work and live downtown led to her establishing the historic preservation and real estate development company — Preservation Properties.

About the Sam’s Club Giving Program
Sam’s Club Giving supports community-based programs that empower young people, families and small businesses to make smart choices that lead to healthy and bright futures. In 2011, Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program made cash and in-kind contributions of more than $101 million, which included donating more than 38 million meals. Visit SamsClub.com/giving for more information.

The National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) is an organization of educators, administrators, presidents and entrepreneurs, focused on inciting entrepreneurship in their community and on their campus. NACCE has two main goals: 1. Empower the college to approach the business of running a community college with an entrepreneurial mindset; and 2. Grow the community college’s role in supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in their local ecosystem.

Founded in 2002, NACCE is at the heart of the "entrepreneurship movement.” Through membership, an annual conference and exhibition, regional summits, a quarterly journal, monthly webinars, a dynamic list-serv, and training resources, NACCE serves as the hub for the dissemination and integration of knowledge and successful practices regarding entrepreneurial leadership, entrepreneurship education and student business incubation. These initiatives and resulting actions advance economic prosperity in the communities served by its member colleges. NACCE is a founding member of the White House-led Startup America Partnership. For more information, visit http://www.nacce.com.

Follow us at @NACCE, like us on facebook.com/NACCE, and join our LinkedIn group.