SPARK program holds graduation for spring 2022 class

Siler City, NC – The Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center presented seven participants from the spring 2022 SPARK entrepreneurship program with certificates on Tuesday, May 3, at the CCCC Siler City Center. One participant was awarded $5,000 in startup funding to assist in opening their business in Siler City.

The certificates were presented for completion of the SPARK program, an eight-class entrepreneurship series created in collaboration with the Chatham Chamber of Commerce and Mountaire.

Cindy Poindexter, President of the Chamber, said, “Partnering with the CCCC Small Business Centers during our first year of Chatham SPARK has been a beneficial and rewarding experience.  I have been filled with excitement while watching our entrepreneurs grow in their walk to starting a business.”

Participants in the program attend a series of seminars, create a business plan, have their business plans reviewed, and prepare a pitch on the final evening of the program to a review committee. Graduates of the program who open a retail business in Siler City may apply for a $5,000 start-up grant.

Sherrie Hatfield, one of the grant finalists, plans to open a restaurant in downtown Siler City. “I really could not have gotten as far as I have without the help from the SPARK program,” said Hatfield. “They helped me get my business plan written and taught me a lot about the ins and outs of the financial side of having my own business. I will be opening my restaurant by the first of June. A huge thank you to the SPARK program and all of the guest speakers they had.”

SPARK graduates are preparing to open their businesses in a number of industries, including restaurant and food service, photography, woodworking, and health care.

“Writing a business plan while attending a weekly, three-hour class and working fulltime is no easy feat, so I commend our entrepreneurs for seeing this program through to the end,” said Phillip Pappas, CCCC Small Business Center Coordinator. “It’s been a very rewarding experience and I expect big things from our small group of SPARK certificate holders. I have no doubt that in the not-too-distant future we’ll see the real impact of Chatham SPARK — businesses started, jobs created and dreams materialized.

“I’m so grateful to those who helped make SPARK a reality. Central Carolina Community College, Mountaire Farms, Cindy Poindexter from the Chatham Chamber and the esteemed list of industry professionals, subject matter experts and Chatham County personnel who provided our participants with the information necessary for a successful launch. Because of their efforts, Chatham SPARK is now a comprehensive blueprint for those with the initiative to launch their own enterprise.”

Funding for the grant was received from Mountaire. Catherine Bassett, Director of Communications and Community Relations, noted, “We are proud to sponsor programs that promote young entrepreneurs and new businesses. Our economy depends on small businesses and everyone deserves a chance.”

Grant finalist Shamika Scotton said, “Signing up and being accepted into the SPARK Program was one of the best decisions I could have ever made for my business. The information that we learned each week in class from the weekly speakers has been so helpful and taught me so much that I didn’t know about opening a business.”

SPARK is scheduled to begin a new session in early 2023. Individuals interested in starting a small business in Chatham County are encouraged to apply. Visit for more information, or contact Phillip Pappas at or Cindy Poindexter at .