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The Small Business Center at Halifax Community College graduated 12 participants from the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) course last spring. SBC Director Dick McCormick, far left, taught the class. The next REAL Entrepreneurship class starts Sept. 24.

Halifax Community College's Small Business Center (SBC) personnel have been busy this year. During the week of August 19, the center will celebrate the college's 40th anniversary.

The SBC seeks to increase the success rate and number of profitable small businesses in the Roanoke Valley service area. The SBC staff offers high quality, accessible assistance to prospective and existing small business owners and employees. Also, the SBC strives to be a community-based provider of education and training, counseling, information and referral, and has been in operation for more than 20 years.

The SBC offers numerous free classes each semester on a variety of business topics. Employers can also take advantage of classes in communication, motivation, quality and time management, and customer service.

A major focus of the center is assisting people who want to start a business develop their own comprehensive business plans. These plans not only help to ensure the viability of a business, but are also necessary for people who need to finance a business through a loan.

Free services are offered for entrepreneurs including classes and seminars for small business owners and larger employers, counseling for start-ups and existing businesses, and a resource center in the HCC library with a wide variety of business magazines, books and videotapes on management and supervision. The center also provides assistance with business planning, marketing, financials, computer use, on-site training and other business issues.

SBC director, Dick McCormick, has consulted with and taught small business owners for more than 15 years. He has also consulted with several businesses in a variety of industries. He holds an MBA from the University of Michigan and has headed his own consulting business in Atlanta.

Over the past year, the SBC served more than 1,200 participants, offered nearly 70 classes, and McCormick counseled more than 60 individuals. He also wrote "Biz Connections" for the Daily Herald, worked with municipalities on management issues and taught the first REAL Entrepreneurship class, which graduated 12 people. He established the SBC Advisory Committee last fall and prepared 50 tax returns free with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. The SBC also hosted the first-ever Entrepreneur Expo in February.

For more information about the SBC, contact Dick McCormick at (252) 536-7274 or visit online, www.halifaxcc.edu/SBC.