Jeff and Lillian Norris are a busy couple. This civic-minded duo came to Waynesville seven years ago with a desire to make a difference in our community. For Jeff it was a move back home to his roots. He said that he had tired of working in a Philadelphia law firm with over 400 attorneys and was ready for the simpler pace of a small-town practice. The couple embraced the challenge of opening a new law firm and in 2003, Jeffrey W. Norris & Associates, PLLC opened its doors on Main Street in Waynesville.

Lillian pitched in to help and for the first few years worked as office manager for the law firm. Previously, she was pediatric nurse practitioner. Her background did not provide the training or guidance needed to set up a small business.

The Norris' looked for help close to home at Haywood Community College's Small Business Center. "Center Director Sharron Donnahoe was the first person I talked with," said Lillian. "She was very helpful and recommended that I attend one of the Small Business Center's free seminars. Since then HCC has been one of my primary resources for business related information."

As a newcomer to the area, Lillian said that the seminars were a great place to meet and make new friends. "I made great connections and still call on many of the people I met through those seminars. That networking has provided valuable resources."

Lillian not only took several of the free seminars, she also took business classes such as Quick Books through the continuing education program at HCC. Because she didn't come from a legal background she also took paralegal courses through the continuing education's Ed2Go program. All total she took more than 14 SBC seminars and classes. "I wanted to become a resource for the employees of Norris & Associates," she said. "All of the seminars have been helpful. I still stay abreast of what is being offered."

Building on ideas gained through these seminars, the Norris' have worked to make their office stand out from the crowd. Where some law offices can be stodgy and intimidating, they strive to present an approachable, comfortable, family oriented atmosphere."And excellent customer service," Jeff pointed out, "We follow up with our customers."

The office's Main Street location has proven to be advantageous. "People know where to find us. It puts us up front in a person's mind," said Lillian. Two other lawyers, George Kimberly and Larry Reida, are also part of the team as well as a staff of seven that includes 3 paralegals.

Norris and Associates is a general practice law firm. They practice in four basic categories: litigation (no criminal), real estate, commercial, and estate planning, wills and trusts. They also offer mediation services. The firm primarily practices in Haywood, Buncombe, and all Western NC counties. In 2005 they were awarded a Business of the Month designation by the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. "We have really learned what our strengths are, we don't focus on our weaknesses. Attitude is a big

part of success. So we concentrate on daily improvement, innovation and giving credit where credit is due," said Jeff.

And the couple is doing what they set out to do. They are making a difference in our community by encouraging participation in many volunteer organizations. "Community involvement is a core value of Jeffrey W, Norris & Associates," Jeff said. "Our pro bono program enables our lawyers to help meet the great needs of the disadvantaged in our community." Members of the firm are also active in various local committees and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Rotary Foundation, United Way, and the American Cancer Society. They also present seminars about wills and estate planning to Haywood Community Connections and various civic


Jeff is on the HCC Foundation Board of Directors and Lillian was chair for the 2005 Relay for Life. They are also volunteers with the Literacy Council, Relay for Life and the March of Dimes. Yes, indeed, Jeff and Lillian Norris are a busy, but caring, couple, making an impact in our community through their many volunteer efforts and by their unique and progressive approach to office business. They have become resources not only for their office staff but also to the community. In fact, this fall they will both be leading free seminars for the HCC Small Business Center.

"Choosing the Legal Structure for your Business," led by Jeff will meet on Tuesday, September 11 from 6-8 p.m. and Lillian will lead "Thinking about Starting a Business in Haywood County?" on Tuesday, September 18 from 6-8 p.m. Both seminars will be held in the HCC Student Center auditorium.

In addition to the many free opportunities for networking and information gathering provided by these seminars, the Small Business Center also provides budding entrepreneurs like the Norris' with the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions concerning their business ventures. Confidential business counseling along with business planning software is available at no cost to those seeking help in starting a new business or growing an existing business. A resource library of print, audio, and video materials is also available for loan. These resources are located on HCC's campus in the Freedlander Learning Center which will become the new home of the Small Business Center this summer.

For more information about the many services offered through HCC's Small Business Center, please contact Sharron Donnahoe at 828-627-4512.