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Strength in rural places: Anchored in Washington

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  • We "do everything we can to make an impact in the community. I think that's a responsibility we have as being a business owner," says Oliver Stephens, co-owner of Diamond N-D Rough Upholstery in Washington.
  • The "lane of entrepreneurship" is driving growth in Washington, located in Beaufort County, where local partnerships are built around the idea that "local-independent businesses are the cornerstone of our culture, economy, and character."

Editor’s Note: This documentary, Anchored in Washington, is the fourth in a series for EdNC on the strength we see in rural places. At EdNC, we deeply embed in communities because our schools are anchor institutions, but we’ve realized churches, nonprofit organizations, and restaurants are too. Join us in getting to know our rural communities.


The “lane of entrepreneurship” is driving growth in Washington, located in Beaufort County, where local partnerships are built around the idea that “local-independent businesses are the cornerstone of our culture, economy, and character.”

For example, take Meg Howdy, the executive director of the Washington Harbor District Alliance and the Washington District Market.

“To me the American dream used be owning a home,” she says, “… But I think for most of our younger generations, it is about owning a small business.”

Betty and Oliver Stephens own Diamond N-D Rough Upholstery.

Oliver says, we “do everything we can to make an impact in the community. I think that’s a responsibility we have as being a business owner.”

Archie Griffin set out to earn a four-year degree in engineering, but realized an office job was not for him. He now works with the family-owned Griffin Farms.

He took a few courses at Beaufort Community College, and now when he looks back on things, he wishes he had done differently. He says he would have “jumped on board” with free tuition to earn his degree at the community college.

“It would have saved not only myself but my family a lot of money, and I’d be much better off financially going forward and my future,” he says.

Betty Stephens says of the students who work with their upholstery company, “they all have a vision of creating their own business.” Oliver says he wants to capture their face when they say, “I did it.”

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.

Bridgette Cyr

Bridgette Cyr is a visual journalist and documentary filmmaker based in Durham, North Carolina. Her work focuses on women’s issues and social justice matters and has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Ford Foundation and NPR. She previously worked at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival as the Artist Services Coordinator before earning an M.A. in Visual Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has produced podcasts for Harvard University and Duke University and California Public Media.