Forsyth Technical Community College announces the winners of the Small Business Launch Challenge held at Wake Downtown, Innovation Quarter on Monday, December 18, 2017. Six finalists presented their proposals for new businesses, and three winners were chosen. The first place winner was Stacey Mitchell, co-owner of Smoke and Skillet Food and Beverage Catering; second place winner was Faith McKnight, owner of The Sweet Truth Bakery and Catering; and third place winner was Calissa Hooper, owner of 5 Sistah’s Delight, Food Truck Catering.

The three other finalists were LaTanya Tyson owner of Crossyard, an online sales organization for fraternity and sorority apparel and gifts; Kimberly DeWindt, holistic coach and owner of Empowered Life Transitions; and Chrissy Klunder, owner of Himalayan Hideaway. All finalists won a share of $50,000 from the Forsyth Tech Foundation.

The panel of judges selected the winners based on their presentation, the potential success of their business start-up and the work they had completed throughout the program. The judges included business mentors for the small business center and Forsyth Tech faculty members.

The challenge is designed to operate in two sessions, September through December and February through May. Allan Younger, the director of the Small Business Center at Forsyth Tech, explains the program “will work with individuals who will be committed to launch their business within six months of completing the program.”

Winners of the Small Business Launch Challenge (from left) Stacey Mitchell, 1st place winner; Calissa Hooper, 3rd place winner and Faith McKnight, 2nd place winner.

At Forsyth Tech, 22 entrepreneurs were selected in August based on the feasibility of their business ideas. They have been participating in educational events, meeting weekly as a group, and one-on-one with business mentors to help guide them in their process.   

The Launch Challenge is the result of a collaborative effort among six Winston-Salem based colleges and universities called the Emerging Entrepreneur Funds. Announced last May, the schools are offering a series of programs for their students and alumni to help incentivize entrepreneurship. Each institution developed a different program with established guidelines in support of the initiative. Forsyth Tech’s program is the Small Business Launch Challenge.

Schools participating along with Forsyth Technical Community College are:

  • Piedmont International University
  • Salem College
  • UNC School of the Arts
  • Wake Forest University
  • Winston-Salem State University

At Forsyth Technical Community College, a special award fund was created for alumni, current students and Small Business Center clients. The Launch Challenge will foster successful business startups in Forsyth and Stokes Counties. The award pool is $100,000 per year for three years through 2020. The award amount will be based on successful completion of the Launch Challenge.

Applications will be accepted through December 31 for new business startups for the next session beginning February 1 through mid-May. Applications are available at the Forsyth Technical Community College website here.

About Forsyth Tech

Forsyth Technical Community College provides students with guided educational pathways into a competitive workforce for the community and global economy. The college offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in more than 200 programs of study, including programs that promote personal and professional development through non-credit courses and seminars, as well as customized training for business and industry. Forsyth Tech is the fifth largest community college in North Carolina and serves more than 35,000 students with approximately 1,500 full and part-time faculty and staff.