About Us
The SBTDC at UNC Wilmington is affiliated with the UNCW Cameron School of Business and is located next to the UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Our experienced business advisory team offers confidential, in-depth business counseling to small- to mid-sized company business owners and management staff and to entrepreneurs preparing to launch their next venture. 
Heather McWhorter
Regional Director
910.962.4248 or 

Robin Bennett
Business Counselor
910.962.3744 or 

Diane Lantz
Business Counselor
910.962.2869 or 

Gloria Monroe
Business Counselor
910.962.7307 or 

Jamie Stalfort
Business Launch Specialist
910.962.0537 or 

Paige O'Neill
International Business Development Specialist
910.962.0592 or 

James Chestnut
Procurement Specialist
910.962.2869 or 

Cheryl Young
Business Resiliency and Recovery Counselor
910.962.3744 or 

In our region, we are starting to see dazzling glimmers of hope with new businesses being launched and existing businesses reinventing themselves in great new ways. At the other end of the spectrum, we have already witnessed businesses - people's life work and their livelihoods - closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even more businesses are struggling behind the scenes since their Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds ran dry.

The good news is that (1) people and businesses in southeast North Carolina are innovative and resilient and (2) the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) has a range of services for you, whether you are struggling, innovating, or simply getting ready to start a new business.

In this newsletter, you will find a handful of articles that represent the breadth of our services:
  • Quick and easy access to government sales
  • The power of networking
  • Increasing sales through exporting
  • Meet our new graduate students
  • Restaurant Roundtable Recap
  • Upcoming events
Read, enjoy, and ask questions about this information. Most importantly, ask for help. We are here for you.
Stay safe, plan strategically, and innovate!
Heather McWhorter
UNCW SBTDC Regional Center Director
Contributed by James Chestnut, PTAC Specialist (adapted from PTAC Newsletter, September 2020)
In a recent interaction with a client both of us determined that their product, trophies and plaques, was not conducive with "general" government contracting. However, in doing a deeper dive we discovered that they were selling some product on a piecemeal basis to a local military base. Small purchases such as these are made utilizing the Government Purchase Card (GPC). So, we brainstormed how to target that market to expand sales.

In order to work toward GPC sales, we need to understand the program overall. The GPC, while it may look and operate as a credit card, is not one in that it does not involve revolving credit. Just like any other government purchase it is bound by the rules of the Anti-Deficiency Act. Before a purchase can be made, there must be adequate funds available to cover it. So, all sales are billed and paid in total. Also, the card cannot be used for recurring purchases such as cable subscriptions or phone bills and most agencies have limitations on IT purchases.

Secondly, if the purchase is below $10,000, the Micro-Purchase Threshold, the cardholder is probably not a Contracting Officer or even a Contract Specialist. This is where most GPC purchases occur. Most cardholders are not acquisition professionals but administrative personnel. For example, administrative professionals in many offices are the cardholders so make the buying decisions. Therefore, as a business strategy, we agreed upon the idea of getting the client's company in front of administrative professionals.

The goal in this case was not to go for a big award but to increase revenue by tapping into the micro-purchase/GPC arena. This would require a more focused and targeted strategy using old school methods with some 21st century tech thrown in. We discussed a specific strategy for the business to increase government sales.

For additional information about how GPC purchases could apply to your business, please contact me at jchestnut@sbtdc.org. For additional information about the regulation, visit FAR 13.301 "Governmentwide Commercial Purchase Card" at https://www.acquisition.gov/content/13301-governmentwide-commercial-purchase-card.
Contributed by Jamie Stalfort, SBTDC Business Launch Specialist
If being trapped in our homes for six months has taught us anything, it's how valuable the power of human connections can be. Not only is networking great for your social well-being, but it can also be great for your business. You might meet new potential business partners, new mentors, or new customers, which in turn can lead to increased referrals and therefore sales! Networking might look a bit different when we're smack in the middle of a pandemic, but it can still be an effective tool for growth. According to a survey of 1,000 entrepreneurs, 78% of startups reported that networking is critical to their success; "the greater the number of networking activities entrepreneurs engage in - the study finds - the higher the chance of having a positive return in terms of profitability, revenue growth, innovation, capitalization and talent." (Forbes)

One great way entrepreneurs can stay connected right now is through Wilmington's 1 Million Cups chapter. The free Kauffman Foundation initiative has chapters all over the country, under the premise that entrepreneurs can connect with each other over a million cups of coffee. Each week, a local entrepreneur will take 6 minutes to discuss their business, the challenges they have faced, what their plan for growth is, and how the community can help them thrive. Attendees then get 20 minutes of Q&A. The Wilmington chapter meets virtually each Wednesday at 9 a.m., and viewers can log on via Zoom, or via Facebook Live.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there (from your armchair!) and get connected!

Contributed by Jamie Stalfort, SBTDC Business Launch Specialist
Is your mid-size business ready to increase exports? Do you have management commitment to expand your international markets?  Are you an expert in your domestic product offerings?

One of the ways to get the biggest boost in International sales is to start developing a global strategy that brings the business from "reactive" exporting to "proactive" exporting. Proactive exporting involves developing an Export Plan to define a global strategy that maximizes profitability. The value of taking a proactive approach means the business can look at ways to increase margins, reduce risk, and possibly attain funding for the global expansion. Take your business to the next level by considering some of these questions:
  1. Do you have management commitment?
  2. Do you have enough production capacity to exponentially increase sales?
  3. Have you thought about product adaptation for new international markets?
  4. Do you have the operational expertise internally to support global logistics?
  5. Have you thought about the challenges of entering new countries: import/export controls, cultural differences, and competition?
  6. Have you completed market research to determine the countries with the largest market opportunities for your products?
  7. Have you identified the customer base by country and ways to promote your products?
  8. Do you know how to reduce the landed costs of your product and increase the profit margin?
  9. Do you have adequate cash flow to support long lead times for payments?
  10. Do you have the correct insurance to cover costs of larger overseas orders?
  11. Do you know the funding options available to help increase distribution channels?
Take the next step in the exporting journey and spend some time developing a comprehensive plan that will give your company a proactive approach to increasing sales and profitability. The U.S. Department of Commerce has developed a Comprehensive Guide to Exporting. Small Business Administration (SBA) has developed an interactive guide to create an export plan that is available here.

In North Carolina, the International Business Development team is here to help answer questions and assist mid-size businesses in developing an Export Plan. The IBD team offers advice in Global Management, Global Market Research, Global Supply Chain and Global Trade Finance. Contact me at poneill@sbtdc.org to discuss.
Abby Cummings joined the UNCW SBTDC as a graduate assistant in September. She is currently a UNCW MBA student concentrating in in International Business. Abby is especially passionate about entrepreneurship having run her own brand consultation and photography business. Her work there entailed working with entrepreneurs to elevate their businesses through branding, photography, marketing, and social media. Abby is looking forward to applying this experience as well as prior positions in marketing and media.

Abby has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from NC State University. Her favorite experience as an undergraduate was a summer study abroad program in Queensland, Australia!

Masha Schmick joined the UNCW SBTDC as a graduate student in September. She recently completed a bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from UNCW, and she is now pursuing a master's degree in Accountancy (MSA) and a CPA license at her alma mater. Masha is also the owner of Bragabit, a successful cheerleading accessories business. After eight years of building her own business, Masha realized that financial management and client relationships were her favorite part of the business, so she decided to focus her career around them and applied to UNCW.
Contributed by Cheryl Young, SBTDC Business Resiliency Counselor
SBTDC held a restaurant roundtable discussion on Monday, September 28 to discuss Best Practices for Surviving and Thriving through Communication and Partnership.

The restaurant industry has been one of the hardest hit industries throughout the pandemic. This event was designed to listen to restaurant owner's challenges and successes during these times.

The topics discussed were based around communication with customers and employees. Restaurant owners who participated provided their challenges from complete shut down to opening under limited capacity. Many had to change their ways of doing business to survive. Take out and delivery as well as limiting their menus was a common theme.

Communication with customers is key. Discussion revolved around social media, websites, and restaurant signage as ways to communicate. Each restaurant's message was similar. It is important first to let customers know that you are open and the hours that you are open. It is also important to communicate the sanitation practices that the restaurant is following to assure your customers that you are taking the proper precautions to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.
Please join us for Cape Fear Region Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week from October 5-10. Twenty-four (24) virtual events throughout the week - there is something for everyone! Events provide attendees the opportunity to:
  • Meet leaders from the regional business community
  • Learn about government contracting and business opportunities
  • Grow your professional network
  • Receive information and resources to develop your business
  • Connect with business vendors
For more information and to register for events, please visit: https://uncw.edu/diversity/medweek. Partners have been working hard to bring this impactful programming together. We are excited and hope to see you there!
There are even more programs hosted by members of The Business Coalition and located throughout southeast NC to work one-on-one with entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them succeed. The consolidated calendar of events can be accessed on the UNCW SBTDC website at http://www.sbtdc.org/offices/uncw/events.

803 S. College Rd, Suite A
Wilmington, NC 28403-5977