Chamber Chat – RISE Program Graduates

July 07, 2021 | Written by: sanford-user



By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director


A great partnership has emerged between the Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center, Downtown Sanford, Inc, and the Sanford Area Growth Alliance – Chamber of Commerce.
In case you haven’t heard, the partnership has resulted in the RISE Program – Real Investment in Sanford Entrepreneurs. This 24-hour seated course prepares entrepreneurs for the “business of doing business”. From sharing information on forming an LLC, to the importance of hiring an experienced CPA, to writing a full-fledge business plan, this class prepares individuals to be successful in the business world.
The small start-ups participating in the program were chosen from a long list of applicants. A review committee looked at the business idea, and whether they felt it was a business idea that was needed in the Sanford area.
One of the perks of the program, is that, if at the end of the program, you present the best business plan, you may be awarded a $5,000 reimbursable grant to go towards rent and utilities. There are several other qualifications, such as being located in downtown Sanford, downtown Jonesboro, or downtown Broadway.
In addition to the City of Sanford, via Downtown Sanford, Inc providing a $5,000 grant, the RISE program also received a private donation of $5,000 this year to go towards a second grant recipient.
“When I read about the RISE program, I knew I wanted to get involved. I got in touch with Meg Moss from the Chamber to see how I could help. I was instantly sold on the idea of helping the entrepreneurs and supporting the local businesses of Sanford.  It was a great opportunity to help and guide new entrepreneurs to avoid some of the costs of mistakes and pitfalls of opening a new business. We would be happy to fund the RISE program again in the future to continue to give this unique opportunity to individuals and help our local community thrive.” Stated Daniel Brody, private RISE donor, and owner of J & R Homes.
This past Monday, the RISE program concluded with business plan presentations, where twelve class participants gave their business pitch to a review committee, who decided on the two winners.

The first winner is Terrance Simpson. He and his business partner will be opening GT’s Arcade and Museum. It will have “old school” games such as Pac-Man and pinball, as well as newer videogames. Simpson is thrilled to be bringing back the excitement and nostalgia of video games for families. He is currently seeking a location in downtown Sanford. He has already met with the folks in planning and zoning, and he already owns 30 machines that he has been collecting over the years. He has done several “travelling” arcade game set-ups, and is exiting to get into a brick and mortar.
The second winner is Jacob Black. Black owns J & J Precision Engraving. He has several part time employees, as he already has a web presence for his customized/personalized laser engraved gifts. He is excited to open a retail location in either downtown Sanford or downtown Jonesboro. Folks will be able to go in, pick out their gifts, and (depending on the size of the order) have them engraved right there. Jacob can assist customers design the customized engraving. His website is
“I was truly impressed with RISE and its leadership. This program pushed me to dig deeper and work harder on my business model, providing much needed direction to make necessary changes. This course provides you with a community of entrepreneurs looking to see your business succeed. I’m looking forward to planting roots here in my town and help bring awareness to the importance of small businesses.” stated Black, owner of J & J Precision Engraving.
Are you an entrepreneur looking to open a brick-and-mortar business in one of the three downtown areas of Lee County? Keep an eye on to see when applications for the spring class will open.