Gould takes helm at HCC Small Business Center
As of Feb. 3, Katy McLean Gould said she feels like she is exactly where she is meant to be — behind the director’s desk at Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center.
Gould has replaced former director Sharron Donnahoe, who recently retired after leading the small business center for 19 years.
“Sharron created a phenomenal program. She has shoes I’ll never be able to fill so I’ll have to create my own shoes and do it my way and expand it to meet the ever-changing world of business,” Gould said.
Gould, a 2002 Tuscola High School graduate, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration at Berea College in Kentucky and then received her master’s degree in entrepreneurship at Western Carolina University.
After college she worked for a big marketing firm, but she soon realized the corporate world was not for her. She then served as the marketing and communications manager for the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce for five years before this opportunity presented itself. Her experience in business administration and a master’s in entrepreneurship made her an ideal candidate for the Small Business Center.
“I’m from Haywood County. I grew up here and I worked at my mother’s small business — a data processing company,” she said. “At an early age I learned the benefits, downfalls and triumphs of being a small business entrepreneur in a small community.”
Gould credits her mother, Christy McLean, for her interest in business and entrepreneurship, but it also helped growing up in a community with such a strong entrepreneur base — whether it’s through farming, offering a service or the many artisans in Haywood County.
The Small Business Center is a community-based center at HCC with plenty of resources for existing and new businesses. The center provides assistance pointing businesses in the right direction whether its through one on one counseling for people want to start a business or finding a business owner the best lending options for their needs.
“Our job is to increase the success rate of small businesses in Haywood County,” Gould said.
The business center also offers seminars throughout the entire year on an array of topics from agri-tourism to marketing. Gould said the center is partnering with the Buy Haywood initiative to do an argi-business seminar because it sees agri-tourism as a huge growth sector in the community. It’s a way for farmers to increase their revenue by having “value added” products like homemade jams or offering a corn maze as an attraction in the fall.
But she also wants to expand the seminars to offer webinars and podcasts of the seminars for people who can’t get away from work to attend a seminar.
“Ultimately, my first goals for the first six months is to listen and get my fingers on the pulse of the community,” she said. “Then I can develop strategies to meet those needs.”
One of Gould’s goals in her new position is to have HCC’s creative arts program and the entrepreneur program work closely together, which would hopefully enable local artisans to start their own businesses here in Haywood County. Selling their local products would create new jobs while also helping the tourism industry by showcasing local artists.
“I want to push artisans to develop their entrepreneur skills,” she said. “The business center has a unique ability to stay abreast of changes and react to those changes by offering the training necessary to meet those demands.”
Gould also has been an adjunct teacher at HCC — teaching the Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) capstone class. Teaching the
“It takes students from different backgrounds and programs and exposes them to business planning process,” she said.
Gould is truly excited about the future of the small business center and creating a partnership with community leaders, businesses and municipalities.
“Each community has a different business climate and needs. Each is heading in a different direction and I want to support them,” she said.
Her advice to budding entrepreneurs is to take your passion match it with a sound business plan. Once you have that, the small business center can help you find the capital, the business training and the education.
“I’m excited to join the staff as director of the small business center. Small business development and entrepreneurship have been a passion of mine and this is a great opportunity to work in an organization and have a positive impact on the community,” she said. “I look forward to working with state officials, local business owners, students, faculty and staff to improve the business climate in Haywood County.”