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Developing entrepreneurial talent through action learning and fostering the creation of sustainable enterprises throughout North Carolina.


April 2012
In This Issue
Winner of Ag-Entrepreneurship Business Competition Named
Future Facilitators Gather in Wrightsville Beach
Centralina Youth Council Introduces NC REAL to Youth
NC REAL Goes to Bosnia
Youth Entrepreneurship Programs Funded by Appalachian Regional Commission Evaluated
Link of the Month

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Featured Article


 Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC Challenges Entrepreneurs



The state's largest health insurer recently announced its 2012 Health Innovation Challenge, that invites entrepreneurs to submit ideas to help reduce obesity. Up to three winners will receive $20,000 in funding plus mentoring support to implement their plan.

Nearly 30 percent of North Carolinians are obese. In response to that sobering fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield is turning to the state's entrepreneurs for answers. Ideas could include a mobile app for better nutrition, workouts tailored for busy workers, gadgets to keep kids on their toes -the sky's the limit!



The deadline for entry is April 16. To learn more about the challenge and how to submit a proposal click here. Entries will be judged on scalability, sustainability, feasibility and social impact.


Health Innovation Challenge








If you've been a regular reader of REALTalk in the past, you might notice a few changes in appearance this month. For one thing, we are increasing the frequency of distribution. You can expect your fresh issue on the first Friday of each month.


It will continue to highlight NC REAL activities, but also bring you news and resources about entrepreneurship internationally. We are reaching out to new audiences through REALTalk to spread the word about the amazing work of NC REAL.


Let this newsletter speak for you. Send your story ideas and photographs to tom@ncreal.org. Nothing is too large or small to be considered. 


We also would like to know of a successful business in your community that grew out of lessons learned from NC REAL. Send us the name of the business and location to be included in future publications.

Winner of Ag-Entrepreneurship Business Competition Named


Hatcher Family Farms
Anna Marie and Michael Hatcher

of Lumberton was named by a panel of judges as winner of the 2012 Business Competition in Robeson County funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Anna Marie Hatcher and her husband, Michael, are the owners. In less than two years they have built a solid customer base at farmers markets located in downtown Lumberton, Pembroke and Ft. Bragg.


The farm incubates, hatches and raises chickens to produce eggs, processed chickens, chicks, laying hens and roosters for sale. In March 2011 the chicken side of the farm broke off to become Mackaela Rae's Chickens in recognition of the owners' four-month-old passing on the same day that 100 percent of the first chicks hatched.


In addition to poultry products, the farm also plans to produce portabella mushrooms, sprouts and herbs starting in the spring of 2012. A new greenhouse is planned for October 2012, just in time for next winter's growing season.


Anna Marie said, "Even though we were operating prior to participating in the NC REAL Ag-Entrepreneurship program, it taught me how to focus our experience on the objective of moving to the next level. As part of a military family, I have moved 33 times in 36 years, but by building Hatcher Family Farms into a true community resource, we plan to be a part of Robeson County for many years to come."


Carteret Community College Youth Camper Starts Business

Joseph Bond, former youth camp participant at Carteret Community College, put lessons learned from NC REAL into action by creating and operating Sunday Studios Design & Photography. He maintains his business while enrolled full-time as a freshman at NC State University.

Actually, he undertook the venture while still was a
Joseph Bond
Joseph Bond
student at West Carteret High School. He works primarily on weekends; thus the name, "Sunday Studios." He plans to major in communications and political science with concentrations in public relations and public policy.

"I started playing piano when I was 12 and picked up the guitar at 14, and from there I was always looking for ways to expand myself artistically. Photography and graphic design were ways for me to move past communicating in just the auditory channel. From that point I was hooked on how people communicate and how to innovate communication," he said.

His company works with clients to create beautiful photographs, creative graphics and successful branding campaigns, all while still in college! One of his recent projects was to design the 2011 Carteret Youth Camp tee shirt. You can see this design and more by clicking here.


Joseph Bond photo 2
photo by Joseph Bond

Ashe County Middle School Hosts STEM Day  

Over 800 students gathered in the Ashe County
Ashe County RISE
Arlene Childers, assistant director of NC REAL, leads middle schoolers in entrepreneurship activities at STEM Day.

Middle School gymnasium in March to learn how STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) impacts their lives. NC REAL helped them bridge the gap between academics and real world applications in a way that connected with the youth.
Representatives from NC REAL were joined by colleagues from Wilkes Community College, Appalachian State University and businesses in the community. Students from Ashe County High School health occupations, forensics and technology classes added suggestions of how lessons learned in science, technology, engineering and match classes apply to the work place.

Future Facilitators Gather in Wrightsville Beach


Dan Little, Director of the Small Business Center at Wilkes Community College, "fishes" for ideas about starting a small business. The activity challenges a small group to teach the NC REAL approach by creating a display using only available materials.


A fresh crop of future NC REAL facilitators gathered in Wrightsville Beach in February. The weather was phenomenal, but there wasn't much time to enjoy it since the training kept the group's attention focused on indoor activities. At the end of the week, participants became certified to teach the course to developing small business owners throughout the state and beyond.


The Institute reflects NC REAL's action learning approach to entrepreneurship education. Activities focused on feasibility, marketing, operations, financials and development of a business plan kept participants busy from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the entire week.


The next NC REAL Institute is scheduled for June 11-15 at the Meadowbrook Inn in Blowing Rock. Learn more about it by clicking here.


Centralina Youth Council Introduces NC REAL to Youth
Centralina Workforce Development
New Youth Council member, Mike Jones, poses with team members, Michelle McNulty of the Centralina Workforce Development Board and Lisa Conger of the Cabarrus County Schools.

Over 60 youth, educators and business leaders joined NC REAL staff, Arlene Childers and Malinda Todd, for a taste of action learning at the Boys and Girls Club in Concord. The activity was to market an unknown object using entrepreneurial skills such as jingles, slogans and advertising techniques in general. Materials available were household items and each group had 30 minutes to come up with a marketing technique.

Afterwards, participants were asked:

  • Do you think creativity is something you either have (or don't) and can it be learned?
  • Where do new ideas come from?
  • How could this experience be useful to you, even if you do not intend to create a new product?
NC REAL Goes to Bosnia
REAL in Bosnia
Bob Boyter, (second from left) leads group interested in entrepreneurship.



Bob Boyter, REAL youth trainer and education coordinator for Work Force WV 


exported the NC REAL action learning approach to Bosnia.


Since Bob had spent time in the country during its tragic war years, his return and contribution to nation building on a personal scale carried special meaning.


He led workshops during a record-setting blizzard with temperatures in the teens. He must have warmed up the group since they invited him to return when conditions were more hospitable.


Activities included "Smarties" (using a substitute Bosnian stackable candy), as well as "Building Blocks," "Downtown Ventures" and "Markolini."


Youth Entrepreneurship Programs Funded by Appalachian Regional Commission Evaluated

Every nonprofit spends a lot of time seeking grants to fund their programs. Not every nonprofit, however, spends the same amount of time asking if the effort met its objectives after the check is deposited. The important question is, what was learned?


In 2011, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) provided $65,000 to develop young entrepreneurs in Burke, McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford, Yancey and Avery counties. The ARC region has been particularly hard hit by the loss of manufacturing jobs, even prior to the latest economic downturn.


Arlene Childers, assistant director of NC REAL, pulled together a regional support team of 45 members drawn from leaders in K-12 education, community colleges, entrepreneurs, local government and community organizations. The team helped build entrepreneurial skills and develop the pipeline of entrepreneurs in the region to support the efforts of young people.


Twelve student teams completed a practice loan

"Fiber Frenzy" showcases products made from alpaca, a student-run business idea entered in the competition.

application for seed money to start their student businesses.   The application was presented to members of the regional support team who decided if their "loans" would be approved. The youth also completed a business plan and created a short video to market their business.


At the end of the day, 57 teachers had participated in workshops and 703 middle and high school students participated in entrepreneurship activities. Over 72 percent of students who participated in the competition said they planned to take an entrepreneurship class in high school or college. Twice as many of that group said they were "very likely" to start their own business in the future as those who did not participate in the competition.


That's a solid investment!
Link of the Month
Handmade in America

HandMade in America is an Asheville-based nonprofit organization that grows economies through craft and will advance Western North Carolina (WNC) as the cradle of craft.  One unique aspect of the organization is an emphasis on how craft entrepreneurship can contribute to small town economic development and take advantage of Western North Carolina's rich craft traditions.


HandMade in America has been working since 1995 to support and grow the region's craft economy.  From its innovative projects to help revitalize small towns, to its crafts registry online database showcasing more than a thousand artists, HandMade has been hailed as a national model for communities that want to use their creative and cultural assets for economic development.


A major focus for HandMade is fostering entrepreneurship among the region's craft artists.  The organization offers professional development programming that teaches professional craft artists business, creativity, industry and access-to-market skills to address new economic realities and pursue innovative business solutions.  HandMade also is helping to identify the region's largest craft clusters and potential business opportunities in those clusters.  


Pay a visit to their Web site to learn more.