Faculty Focus

Minority entrepreneurs learn business skills through ECU-led workshop

Ericka Lawrence Assistant professor of management College of Business

Ericka Lawrence, assistant professor of management, College of Business

Management professor Ericka Lawrence is focusing her research to look more closely at entrepreneurs – and more specifically, minority entrepreneurs.

For the past two years, Lawrence has worked with the city’s Minority and Women Business Enterprise office to hold workshops for area entrepreneurs. The goal is to provide instruction and guidance for those companies so they can be more competitive.

“We wanted to give them skills to not only obtain government contracts with the city of Greenville but to be competitive entrepreneurs no matter where they go,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence developed a four-week curriculum that focused on marketing analysis; looked at small business accounting concepts to help participants be financially fit; provided information related to the bidding process for projects with local and state governments; and taught participants how to use social media platforms to market their companies.

This year’s class included Russell Parker, owner of Clean Touch. In last year’s workshop, he learned how to establish relationships with bankers. For this year’s camp, he knew where he needed help: financing.

“I was looking for where to find it, and I knew how to get the relationship,” said Parker. “I found out there was a lot of money for entrepreneurs.”

Parker, whose company has been around for more than 20 years, provides cleaning services for ECU Transit. He thinks other minority businesses, like his, could benefit from attending future workshops.

As a follow-up to the boot camp, Lawrence surveyed attendees to find out how the classes affected the companies, what curriculum areas can be improved and the viability of making the workshops an annual event. This research will also be part of a bigger research project Lawrence is conducting, which is focused on entrepreneurship issues in rural eastern North Carolina.


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