Martin Co. to hold entrepreneurs expo with eye to economic growth

WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – For a rural county like Martin County, growing the economy can be tough.

In fact, according to a recent survey done by the county, they annually lose $54 million worth of different retail and commercial products and services to other counties.

“Keeping those dollars in our community is really important,” said Jason Semple, the president and CEO of the Martin County Economic Development Corporation.

Semple and other county leaders are hoping to bring back some of that money by focusing on small business.

“Small business is the backbone, really, of our community and all of America,” said Semple. “Every corporation started out as a small company. And we’ve got to learn how to support those small businesses to help them grow.”

One way they plan to help current and aspiring business owners is the first ever Martin County Entrepreneurs Expo at the Bob Martin Agricultural Center, which will be held Saturday.

“We’ve got a lot of entrepreneurs in our community,” said Brent Kanipe, Williamston director of planning and development. “They just haven’t made that plunge yet. And we’re hoping that this will give them some opportunities to explore their ideas a little further and get some face-to-face questions answered and some information on our community, so they may go ahead and make that final step to actually open a business.”

The expo will feature panelists and speakers from the private and government sectors. Also, vendors and support organizations will be on hand to offer advice to those looking to take the next step.

“There’s a lot of resources to help you refine that process, get the cost down, get the marketing out there,” said Billy Barber, business and industry director at Martin Community College. “Take a hobby to a dream of a profitable business.”

Lawyers, accountants and bank representatives will also be on-hand to answer questions and offer advice to potential small business owners.

The expo takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center on Prison Camp Road in Williamston. Admission is free.

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