New director shares vision for SCC Small Business Center

Published 10:29 am Monday, September 19, 2022

Stanly Community College recently named Tom Nunalee as its new director of small business and entrepreneurial development.

Tom Nunalee

Originally from Wilmington, Nunalee has lived in Stanly County for the past five years, and succeeds Dr. Reese Linnell in the Small Business Center director’s position.

After attending North Carolina State University, where he earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Business Management, Nunalee then attended the UNC School of Law, where he earned his Juris Doctor degree.

He has a wide range of experience in the business world, having represented business clients, owned his own law firm for 15 years, taught business law and has received training as a life coach.

“I am honored to be able to shepherd the considerable resources of Stanly Community College and the North Carolina Small Business Center Network as SCC’s Small Business Center continues to provide confidential counseling, technical assistance, and training to businesses and entrepreneurs,” he said. “Through the marshaling of these resources, including strategic partnerships with other stakeholders, as well as education from subject matter experts, the Small Business Center not only fulfills the three pillars of SCC’s mission (student success, faculty and staff success, and community success), but also supports the development of new businesses and the growth of existing businesses in Stanly County.”

Nunalee went on to explain how the Small Business Center (SBC) serves to assist and provide resources to Stanly County businesses, as well as those considering starting a business.

“Our mission is to help businesses of all sizes, and especially smaller ones, by providing tools and resources to help them grow. We are able to provide assistance in two ways,” he said. “The first way is to meet one-on-one with clients, at which time we can provide confidential business counseling.”

He went on to explain that resources are not limited just to those available on the SCC campus.

“All 58 of North Carolina’s community colleges have SBC’s,” he said. “So if someone has a question, or a need for a resource that we here at Stanly are not familiar with, we can reach out to others in the network for answers.”

A second way by which the SBC provides assistance to small businesses is through regular seminars and instructional opportunities. These can be viewed, and interested parties can register for them, at https://www.stanly.edu/small-businesscenter.

Making people aware of the SBC’s mission and resources is often a challenge, Nunalee said.

“In my short time here, something I have noticed is that lots of people have never heard of the SBC, and aren’t aware of what we can provide them.”

Although the SBC is often identified with the community college, Nunalee noted that many of the students there are either unaware of the SBC, or are not familiar with its mission and resources. So, he has identified building awareness of the center as one of his immediate goals.

“Right now, the community is finding us, but our students here at SCC are not,” he said. “As a result, a big part of my job is going to be spreading the word to students and the community that we are here, we can assist them, and we have a network of resources that are available to them.”

In addition to the usual publicity methods (social media, e-mail blasts, speaking to various civic groups, events at high schools, etc.), Nunalee also will implement some creative ways to build awareness among SCC’s student base.

“One example is an arrangement I have made with one of our instructors, by which a student can attend one of our online webinars in lieu of taking one quiz,” he said. “This will help students become aware of what we offer, and through the registration process for the webinar, they will be exposed to other learning opportunities that are available.”

Nunalee also noted that the services of the SBC are available to the public at no fee.

“The SBC network is funded by the North Carolina General Assembly,” he said, “so while clients are not charged a direct fee, the services are actually part of their tax dollars at work.”

Looking ahead to the job at hand, Nunalee was complimentary of those who have preceded him at the SBC.

“I want to build on the work that my predecessors have done,” he said.

To learn more about the Stanly County Small Business Center, visit https://www.stanly.edu/small-business-center.