CCC&TI announces a new Small Business Center Director.

The challenges of starting and operating a small business are not new to Carmela Tomlinson. In addition to starting Paragon Design Group nearly 24 years ago, Tomlinson also has been an integral part of the local business community through her leadership on the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and as a member of the Small Business Technology Development Center for Western North Carolina.

Those factors, combined with her experience in and familiarity with the local economy, led to her being chosen as the new director of the Small Business Center at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. Tomlinson begins her role as Small Business Center Director on May 4. She replaces former SBC Director Ben Willis, who recently began a job with the Education Foundation of Caldwell County.

“We’re excited to have Carmela serving in this role, and feel lucky to have someone with her combination of business experience and connections in the local community,” CCC&TI President Dr. Mark Poarch said. “Especially at a time when our local businesses can use all the help they can get, Carmela’s leadership and resourcefulness will be essential for small businesses in our area.”

Serving both Caldwell and Watauga counties, CCC&TI’s Small Business Center is part of a statewide network of 58 Small Business Centers that support the development of new businesses and the growth of existing businesses by being a community-based provider of training, counseling, and resource information. Its services are free of charge and are offered both online and in-person at the HUB Station, 143 Cedar Valley Rd., Hudson.

Tomlinson, who is a Caldwell County native and former CCC&TI student, earned her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory. She is excited to get started and looks forward to helping local business owners and entrepreneurs, she said.

“I’ve gone through a lot of the processes and experienced the challenges that many small businesses are now going through,” Tomlinson said. “The Small Business Center provides tremendous resources for local businesses, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to help these businesses find success.”

Among the services Tomlinson says will be most helpful are free consulting on marketing, business planning, financing, tax law, and funding along with helpful workshops and start-up resources available onsite at the HUB Station. Tomlinson also hopes to leverage her

existing relationships in local education, government and nonprofit organizations in her new role.

“I hope to continue to build relationships and trust,” Tomlinson said of continuing the SBC’s past successes. “The SBC can be a voice to help small businesses when they need resources, counseling, guidance, or assisting new business get started or existing small businesses expand.”

For more information about CCC&TI’s Small Business Center, please visit or call 828-726-3065.