Thursday, August 25, 2022 - 00:00

Governor Cooper Tours New Women’s Business Center of Greensboro, Highlights Partnership with Bennett College

Today, Governor Roy Cooper toured the new Women’s Business Center of Greensboro located on Bennett College’s campus.
Aug 25, 2022

Today, Governor Roy Cooper toured the new Women’s Business Center of Greensboro located on Bennett College’s campus. The center opened yesterday. Funded in part through the US Small Business Administration, the center will partner with Bennett College to provide students with internship experience and serve as a resource for small businesses in Guilford County.

“North Carolina’s talented, educated and diverse workforce is one of our greatest assets,” Governor Cooper said. “This partnership between Bennett College and the Women’s Business Center of Greensboro is giving students the skills and training they need to pursue meaningful, well-paying jobs.”

“We believe in the talent in Guilford County. The Women’s Business Center of Greensboro exists to show the community how to tap into resources within the community,” said Lu-Ann Barry, Executive Director of the Women’s Business Center of Greensboro. “Women entrepreneurs must get comfortable with asking questions, stop being afraid of what’s possible and embrace the vision that aligns with their business and personal goals.”

“What an exciting way to wind down Black Business month than with the Grand opening of our fourth Women’s Business Center on the campus of Bennett College. Afterall, one of our founders, the late Andrea L. Harris, is a Bennett College graduate. We’ve always felt like family. Now, we’re officially joined at the hip,” said Kevin J. Price, President/CEO of the National Institute of Minority Economic Development. 

“Small business is the lifeblood of our growing economy, and women of color-owned small businesses are leading the way by starting enterprises in record numbers. That's why we are so excited to be the first and only women's college in the country to have a Women's Business Center located on its campus,” said Suzanne E. Walsh, J.D., President of Bennett College. “The leadership of Dr. Laura Colson, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Experience and our historic partnership with the National Institute of Minority Economic Development (The Institute) and the Small Business Administration will change the lives of women business owners in the community and their families for generations.”

“Our state continues to lead the way in supporting women-owned small businesses. Women are empowered and are exercising their ability to control their destinies through business ownership,” said Senator Gladys Robinson. “As an elected representative to the North Carolina Senate and Chair of the Bennett College Board of Trustees, and a major advocate for small and minority businesses in North Carolina, I applaud the partnerships and vision on display with the opening of the Women's Business Center of Greensboro on the campus of Bennett. And as a proud alumna of Bennett College, I know that my Bennett sister, Andrea Harris who is the founder and visionary of The Institute, would be quite pleased with the opportunities that this center will provide women of color entrepreneurs and the students who attend the College.” 

“At Bennett College, we strive to provide our students with experiential learning opportunities that position them for success, inside and outside of the classroom,” said Dr. Laura Colson, Bennett College Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Experience. “The Women’s Business Center on the campus of Bennett College not only opens doors of opportunity for Guilford County and surrounding areas, it opens doors to entrepreneurship for our students interested in running their own businesses.”

The Women’s Business Center of Greensboro will offer services including one-on-one business counseling, seminars and classes focused on key business topics, feedback on written business plans, loan package preparation assistance and lender referrals and networking opportunities to find mutual support, access to resources and business referrals.

The Institute was founded in 1986 as the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development to diversify North Carolina’s businesses as a strategy for expanding economic opportunity. There are four Institute women’s business centers across North Carolina and Virginia.

Bennett College is an all-women's liberal arts college and one of 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in North Carolina. This is the first Institute business center located on an all-women HBCU campus.

Dr. Andrea Harris was a graduate of Bennett College and co-founder of the Institute. In June 2020, Governor Cooper established the Andrea Harris Equity Task Force under Executive Order 143 to identify best practices to help create economic stability in disadvantaged communities, improve health and wellness in underserved areas and achieve environmental justice. The task force was reestablished earlier this month to continue its efforts to make the state a more fair and just place for all.

Minority and women-owned businesses were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Governor Cooper created the RETOOLNC program in Fall 2020 and reopened applications in June 2022 to provide Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUBs) with direct support. ReToolNC has distributed $35 million to more than 1,800 Historically Underutilized Businesses across the state. There are over 6,000 HUBs across the state, and the North Carolina Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses works with HUBs to help them succeed.

The Governor is working to ensure communities of color and women have access to equal opportunities, pay and respect for their contributions. In April 2019, the Governor issued Executive Order 93 directing state government agencies to ban the use of salary history in the hiring process. Removing the use of salary history can help close the gender pay gap for women and help families become more economically secure.

Several state agencies have HBCU internship and outreach programs to build our public workforce pipeline, including the NC Department of TransportationNC Department of Health and Human Services and NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.



This press release is related to: