When Jessica DeMarco with Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon completed the first year of her business on a part-time basis, she decided it was time to not only make it a full-time venture but to move from a home kitchen into a commercial kitchen.

The business sells seasonal, small batch handcrafted jams, pickles, and artisan foods. To ensure the height of freshness and flavor, the company uses local and all natural ingredients.

“There’s limitations on what you can make to sell in a home kitchen,” DeMarco explains. “And there’s not much room. We researched renting a commercial kitchen and it was just too high. It made sense for us to invest in our own commercial kitchen.”

With the decision made, DeMarco found a commercial kitchen was not in their budget. Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon knew who to turn to for direction. “We started working with HCC’s Small Business Center several years ago when we first started learning about small businesses and what it took to start one.”

Most people know that Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center provides numerous seminars, one-on-one counseling, and access to a resource library free of charge. What some people may not know is that the SBC can also help new and existing businesses connect with lending opportunities that have the success of these businesses as a top priority. The center assists prospective borrowers in the completion of loan applications, as well as provide other technical assistance.

HCC’s SBC helped connect DeMarco with the Rural Center’s Microenterprise Loan Program. Since Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon supports sensible stewardship and local, sustainable agriculture in the Western Carolina region, this Green loan was a perfect fit.

“What sets our business apart is the local aspect,” DeMarco says. “We are a local business that supports other local businesses. There’s an excellent base of people in this community who want to make these businesses a success.”

Another factor for Copper Pot’s success may be the unique quality of the products they offer. From apple onion marmalade to pickled wild ramps, there’s something everyone would want to try.

Copper Pot’s products are available online or at local retailers Turnabouts at Burr Studio and Mountain Favors. In addition, they are sold in stores throughout the North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, California, New York, Washington DC, and Washington State.

The business is growing and thriving. “We make almost all our inventory in a six month period and it gets expensive,” DeMarco says. “The second time we saw that we would need additional funds, we were in the middle of the production season. We could not produce the inventory we needed. So our loan was renewed.”

HCC’s SBC acts as an agent for the lender. According to DeMarco, “Without the Small Business Center, we would not have had any idea that the Rural Center existed. Working with the Small Business Center meant there was another set of eyes looking at the loan submission. You get the confidence to proceed. Since the Small Business Center has gone through this process with other clients, they know what lenders are looking for. And it was a convenient location.”

The Rural Center works with clients that may not qualify for a traditional bank loan and have 10 or fewer employees. Some of the goals of the Rural Center programs are to provide access to resources and capital for new and existing small businesses and support self-employment as a viable career path and source of income.

HCC’s SBC also works with The Support Center to provide lending opportunities to small businesses. The Support Center is a statewide Community Development Financial Institution, an approved lender for the US Small Business Administration (SBA), US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (USDA/FSA) & US Department of Transportation (USDOT) Guarantee Loan Programs. The program lends to start-ups and existing businesses across the state, with emphasis on businesses that have difficulty accessing financing through traditional lending sources.

Copper Pot & Wooden Spoon is located on Pigeon Street in Waynesville. Visit them online at http://www.copperpottraditions.com/.

Visit SBC.Haywood.edu or call 828.627.4512 for additional information. Thinking about starting a business in Haywood County or growing an existing business? Take advantage of the programs, services and resources provided by the Small Business Center. The NC Community College’s Small Business Center Network assists in starting an average of more than 600 businesses each year. Small Business Centers have an economic impact in 90% of all NC Counties each year, helping to create and retain nearly 3,000 jobs annually.