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Ribbon Cutting Held for the Hale County AERN Center

Allen, Shirley, and Patterson
Pictured (L-R): Sabrina Hurns, Pam Dorr (Executive Director-HERO), Senator Gerald Allen (Alabama District 21), Luke Hodnett (back), Mary Patterson (front-Director, AERN), Kenzie McNeilly, and Tawanda Carter (owner of local business, Whispers).

After much planning and engagement with local entrepreneurs, AERN held the grand opening and ribbon cutting for its Hale County Entrepreneurial Center on February 25, 2015 in the HERO (Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization) office in Greensboro with HERO Executive Director Pam Dorr hosting the event. Although the threat of winter weather was in the forecast, Ms. Dorr and Mary Patterson, AERN Director, were excited to officially open the new center to local business owners and entrepreneurs. Senator Gerald Allen (Alabama Senate District 21) braved the cold rain to stop in and visit with local residents who came by to enjoy refreshments and learn about AERN resources.

Ms. Patterson explained the benefits of having a dedicated computer in the HERO office so that entrepreneurs can research a business idea and develop a business plan using the library of resources and software provided, such as Business Plan Pro. Bruno Business Librarian Paul Brothers had provided a training session at the time the equipment was installed so that the HERO staff could utilize the many features of the AERN website and relay business questions to the Bruno staff when needed. Ms. Dorr and Ms. Patterson have recently been working with local entrepreneurs who were interested in opening businesses such as a beauty salon, a hand-made jewelry business, a restaurant and an automobile repair business.

Hodnett and McNeilly
Luke Hodnett and Kenzie McNeilly, AmeriCorps VISTA members serving in Hale County, browse through the resources in the AERN Entrepreneurial Center.

According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses provide 55% of all jobs and 66% of all net new jobs since the 1970s. AERN is ready to assist the residents of Hale County in starting or expanding businesses by connecting them to the business resources at the Culverhouse College of Commerce, and plans to offer workshops and seminars as needed. The opening of the Hale County AERN Center is made possible by a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission and support from The University of Alabama.

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