Jamie Stalfort ’18

September 24, 2019

As the business launch specialist in UNCW’s Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC), Jamie Stalfort ’18 prides herself on her role supporting new businesses in the Port City.

“I am a big proponent of entrepreneurship,” Stalfort said. “Working with the SBTDC, I get to have a direct impact on bringing more entrepreneurship to our community. This year, my goal is to help start 75 businesses. So far, we’ve started 32.”

A Wilmington resident for the last 13 years, Stalfort says that for her, the region’s growth has been both rewarding and mind-boggling to watch. Building on the innovation of mostly Wilmington locals, Stalfort notes that most of the area’s growth can be traced back to some pretty modest beginnings.

“The best part about our growth is that most of it is not from giant corporations deciding to set up shop and bring jobs here,” she said. “People tend to think that small businesses and startups aren’t important because, in their early stages, they only have one to five employees. It’s important to realize though, that without going through those early starting phases, we wouldn’t have companies like Live Oak Bank, Untappd and many others providing future jobs for our area.”

A primary function of the SBTDC is to provide free services to UNCW students, faculty and staff, as well as to the local community, and Stalfort wishes more folks would take advantage.

“Whether somebody is in the beginning stages of starting a business, or if they’ve been in business for 20 years and have 50 employees, the SBTDC is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to start or grow their business,” said Stalfort. “It feels amazing to be able to provide positive encouragement to people and empower them to achieve their dreams.”

At the SBTDC, even Stalfort’s position itself is rather innovative. She was the first of four statewide specialists hired as part of a Small Business Association grant-funded initiative to help improve the startup ecosystem in North Carolina.

“I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity not only to work at my alma mater but to give back to the community that shaped me by helping startups and working to change people’s perception of what a typical startup is.”

If you are interested in starting your own business, the SBTDC hosts regular workshops including their “Taking the Leap” program. The next session runs from October 7-28 and is free to attend. Registration is required.

-- Christina Schechtman