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Brunswick Community College: ‘Making ideas happen’

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.”

This quote from Scott Belsky is found painted on the wall at the CINErG (Center for Innovative Networking and Entrepreneur Groups) at Brunswick Community College’s Leland Center. The room is armed with desks, different co-working spaces, a TV and long table to recreate a boardroom feel, printers, and more. People are dialed into laptops as they lay the foundation for their new ventures. This space is part of a number of programs Brunswick Community College has put together to help not only their students but anyone from the area create their own success. 

Small business center at Brunswick Community College. Caroline Parker/EducationNC

From a lawyer and transportation service to a specialized event cocktail caterer, members use CINErG as a home base to grow their businesses. Paul Campbell of Mister Bartender Port City joined CINErG after it opened in May of 2018.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for us as small business owners to have something accessible like this,” Campbell said.

CINErG is located in the college’s small business center and is attached to another initiative supporting local community members, the Brunswick Business & Industry Incubator.

With three warehouse spaces, the incubator provides businesses a place to do the physical work involved in creating their products. These businesses tend to be more light manufacturing and need room for labor. Luke’s Furniture Company uses the bay for custom wood working and carpentry while Celebration Candles has a wax assembly line. 

The incubator has proven a hot commodity in the community; there is a waiting list to secure the spaces and hopes of expanding. The lease lasts up to three years, and prices are minimal but steadily increase each year. Renting a space also allows the use of conference spaces and classrooms, counseling from the small business center, and more.  

Recently retired president of Brunswick Community College, Dr. Susanne Howard, spoke of the school’s special position as a leader in the county. She explained that many residents move to the area from other states for the warm climate and are in retirement. These new North Carolinians are exploring encore careers, and Brunswick Community College can be there to support with programs like these. 

The youngest of all community colleges in the North Carolina system, Brunswick believes in supporting county residents whether they attend classes or not. Seeing the need for a fitness center, the school constructed the Dinah E. Gore Fitness & Aquatics Center located on the main campus. Any resident can become a member, and the Center boasts a 4,500 square foot lap pool, a 1,584 square foot shallow water pool, gymnasium, work out classrooms, indoor running track, and more. 

It is easy to see Brunswick Community College listens to the needs of its region and creates support systems. The Brunswick Guarantee is another element implemented to take care of the community. The guarantee is a scholarship that covers all in-state tuition and fees not covered by financial aid or other scholarships for all Brunswick County high school graduates who earned at least a 2.3 GPA in high school. 2016 graduates were the first eligible for the scholarship. A first-year student who received this scholarship explained that people think of community college as the second option when really it is the better option. 

Caroline Parker

Caroline Parker is the director of rural storytelling and strategy for EducationNC. She covers the stories of rural North Carolina, the arts, STEM education and nutrition.