The University of North Carolina Wilmington has announced the hiring of its new regional director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center.
Heather McWhorter took on the new role with the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) on Aug. 2. McWhorter was hired to replace Fran Scarlett
, the previous director, who left the position in November after about seven years.
The SBTDC offers personalized business counseling and strategy development services in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Columbus, Duplin and Onslow counties, according to its website. The center is connected with UNCW and the Cameron School of Business.
“The SBTDC performs a very important function in our community in providing business consulting to small- and medium-sized businesses and Heather has a wealth of knowledge and background helping small businesses," said Dean Robert Burrus, of UNCW’s Cameron School of Business. “We believe that [her] experience is going to pay off very nicely in our community.”
"Heather was selected out of a very talented pool of candidates and she rose to the top," he added.
McWhorter comes to the Wilmington area from central Pennsylvania, where she previously served as director of Penn State University’s Small Business Development Center for eight years, as well as the leader in the university’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Outreach Initiatives. Prior to becoming the director, she served the university's Small Business Center as an environmental consultant and established those services at the center.
During her tenure as director, she helped grow the center from 250 to 800 business clients a year. McWhorter said she also helped create Global Entrepreneurship Week at the university, and by 2014 it became the "largest event of its type in the nation."
"We had 130 events. And it wasn't just a student event. It really became a town celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship," McWhorter said. "And it's still going strong."
McWhorter earned a bachelor's of science degree in chemical engineering from Penn State University with a minor in environmental engineering. She also has a master’s degree from the university in energy and mineral engineering.
Out of college, she had an eight-year career with a company formerly known as MTS Technologies, based out of Washington D.C, consulting for the military and NASA to help them solve environmental issues.
McWhorter, a mother of three children, said she has always had a connection to the North Carolina coast, and the opportunity in Wilmington provided her the opportunity to fulfill her dream to live and work in the state.
McWhorter said she is looking forward to getting to know all the partners in her first weeks as director, as well as learn more about the area's pharmaceutical clusters and environmental and marine sciences in the region.
“It was the perfect job, the perfect location and I am so glad to be here,” McWhorter said. "One of the reasons that I'm here is to take everything that I've learned to date over my career and to transform it into something new and exciting. It won't be the same as anything that I've done to date."