To fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in our region, Wilkes Community College (WCC) has partnered with several local agencies to launch Startup Northwest NC, an online portal connecting entrepreneurs in Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany Counties with resources, trainings, connections, and inspiration.

The official launch of Startup Northwest NC will be celebrated on March 10, 2020, 6:00 p.m. at the John A. Walker Center on the campus of Wilkes Community College (WCC). For more details about the event or to RSVP, contact Laurie Brintle-Jarvis at

The new online portal compiles events and offerings of groups and organizations like the Wilkes County Next Generation Entrepreneurs, Wilkes Economic Development Corporation, Small Business Center, Miles J.O.B. Fund, Inc., area Chambers of Commerce, Blue Ridge Business Network, Ashe Consulting Group, and other such programs and agencies available to support entrepreneurs on their journey.

The portal also features a series of videos highlighting entrepreneur success stories and making the case for why northwest NC is a great place to be an entrepreneur.

In an effort to highlight both the region as a whole and the unique local communities in WCC’s service area, Startup Northwest NC has affiliate web pages and videos for Startup Wilkes, Startup Ashe, and Startup Alleghany.

“Entrepreneurs are to the economy what a spark plug is to an engine,” said WCC president Dr. Jeff Cox. “If our local economy is going to prosper, our entrepreneurs are the ones who will lead the charge into an increasingly disruptive pace of change – creating the products, services, and jobs we didn’t know would exist five years ago.”

“We have to celebrate and support our entrepreneurs,” added WCC Small Business Center Director, Laurie Brintle-Jarvis. “We have to plant and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset in our youth and potential entrepreneurs. And we have to make it easy for busy entrepreneurs to find what they need among myriad agencies, events, and resources available to them in our region – even if that’s at 2:00 a.m. when they finally get a chance to sit down and plan!”

Startup Northwest NC is one of ten similar initiatives launching throughout Western North Carolina this year, each led by community colleges and their presidents who are members of the NC Rural Community College Alliance. The alliance was initiated by Dr. Garrett D. Hinshaw, president of Catawba Valley Community College.

Startup Northwest NC was developed in partnership with Supportedly, LLC and made possible through the generous support of the John M. Belk Endowment, as well as numerous local partners, including Ashe County Chamber of Commerce, Ashe County Government, Ashe County Job Development Fund, Inc., Blue Ridge Business Development Center, Blue Ridge Energy, InfusionPoints, LP, NC IDEA, Piedmont Federal, SkyLine Membership Corporation, Small Business Center Network, Wilkes Communications, Wilkes County Government, and Wilkes Economic Development Corporation.

Though the full web portal will not launch until March 10, you can visit to learn more about Startup Northwest NC. You can also reach county-specific portals at,, and