By Nathan Ham
Through the generous volunteer efforts of retired business leaders, small businesses and non-profit organizations in the High Country have access to professional guidance and support in planning and managing their operations.
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization that was founded in 1964 and Asheville was the first region to have an organized chapter. SCORE has a large network of volunteers that work tirelessly to help small business owners not only get their business off the ground, but also grow their business to new heights. There are approximately 10,000 volunteers in more than 250 chapters nationwide.
SCORE is hoping to make an impact in the High Country, particularly in Avery County where “There are a lot of agencies that are looking to help small businesses, but I would say what SCORE does better than a lot of the other ones is if you look at the people volunteering for SCORE, most of us have 20-plus years of experience in different areas,” said Thomas C. Mock, the chapter chair of SCORE Asheville.
Throughout the years, SCORE volunteers have noticed that in smaller towns, a lot of people will start a small business as a way to stronger financial stability.
Non-profit organizations in the High Country will also be able to benefit from the business expertise that SCORE can offer.
“One of the things that excites me about SCORE is being able to deal with non-profits in the county. Should non-profits have some major need such as financial planning, legal advice, SCORE has experts in all of those areas so the non-profits can benefit from this,” said Jim Swinkola, who plans on working with non-profits in the area to utilize the education that SCORE has to offer.
SCORE offers a robust online library of resources that provide the most current information that small businesses and entrepreneurs can use to start and build their businesses and non-profits.
Overall, SCORE had about 500 clients last year across western North Carolina.
“Half of our clients Google small business help, SCORE comes up and they go to the SCORE national website and fill out a short questionnaire that asks what are you needs, who are you and how can we contact you,” said Mock.
A lot of other clients also find out about what SCORE does through word of mouth. According to data provided on SCORE’s website, in 2019 SCORE helped to create 29,681 new businesses and add 97,387 new jobs to the American economy. SCORE’s cost to create one business in 2019 was $394, and the cost to create one job was just $120. For every dollar appropriated to SCORE, $34.66 was returned to the Federal Treasury. Additionally, 67 percent of clients said their revenue increased in 2019.
For these educational opportunities to be free to clients, it takes donations and volunteer hours from numerous people to make that happen. Right now there are seven SCORE mentors in the High Country and several more in Asheville.
“Some of our members and local businesses contribute, and we get some fairly large contributions from major banks to support our cause. A major part of my job is fundraising,” said Mock.
For more information on how to become a client or how to become a volunteer, call 828-271-4786 or email [email protected]. The local SCORE office is located at the Appalachian Enterprise Center, 130 Poplar Grove Connector in Boone.