SBC Helps Primary Care Provider Get New Business Started

Collage of photos from Amazing Grace Healthcare's Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony.

GREENVILLE—A new primary care facility began seeing patients this month, thanks, in part, to sage counseling and encouragement from the Pitt Community College Small Business Center.

Amazing Grace Healthcare, PLLC, owned and operated by certified nurse practitioner Cinthia Pineda, opened its doors to the community Jan. 3. Located on Johns Hopkins Drive, the facility is open weekdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

Pineda, who has more than 10 years of primary care experience, provides a variety of medical and primary care services through Amazing Grace, including evaluation and treatment of acute and chronic health conditions, chronic disease management, lab testing, vaccinations, and physicals. The services are offered under the supervision of a North Carolina Medical Board-certified physician, in accordance with state law.

A ribbon-cutting for Amazing Grace was held Jan. 12, a little more than a year after Pineda met with PCC Small Business Center Counselor Shareen Berkowitz for her initial business counseling session. A number of one-on-one sessions took place in the months that followed, as Berkowitz worked with Pineda to develop a business plan, establish financial projections, and complete funding applications.

“We connected Cinthia to several non-traditional lenders, until we found one we felt comfortable working with to get her the funding she needed to start her business,” Berkowitz said. “We also covered success tips, like starting out small before re-investing in an operation after it begins making money and creating a worst-case scenario to discover where the business breaks even and begins turning a profit.”

All told, Berkowitz spent roughly 76 hours working with Pineda to get her business off and running. That estimate, though, doesn’t include the 90 minutes she spent supporting her nervous client in the moments leading up to the ribbon-cutting nor the eight hours she put in attending “Taking the Leap,” a seminar offered through East Carolina University’s Small Business Technology Development Center (SBTDC).

“I referred Cinthia to our partners at SBTDC for co-counseling with Tyler Lumley, because our main goal is to help the client and SBTDC has resources and expertise we do not have at the Small Business Center and vice versa,” Berkowitz said. “We work really well together, and while Tyler and I were co-counseling Cinthia, he started a new cohort for ‘Taking the Leap,’ so I encouraged her to register for it.”

Berkowitz says she, too, registered for the four-week seminar to provide Pineda moral support. “I love my job and my clients, especially clients like Cinthia, who work really hard, do their homework, and take my recommendations to heart,” she said.

Berkowitz’s dedication did not go unnoticed.

“The counseling I received from (Shareen) at the Small Business Center assisted me in the planning, implementation and execution of my business from day one,” Pineda said. “Her counseling was (vital), and it allowed me to write my business plan in a step-by-step approach, which was crucial to get the funding I needed to start my business.”

Pineda said Berkowitz helped her stay organized throughout the startup process and made sure she had the resources she needed, such as industry research that helped her create a fee schedule and make financial projections.

“Overall, (Shareen) and the Small Business Center prepared and equipped me to start a successful business,” Pineda said.

In addition to helping fill the need for additional primary care services, Amazing Grace takes pride in offering bilingual assistance. Each staff member speaks Spanish and English fluently.

“Cinthia’s niche for her medical practice is serving the Spanish-speaking demographic, which has been a huge need in this community,” Berkowitz said. “She and her staff are fully bilingual, so there is no need for an interpreter, and that will help her build trust with clients. I really believe she’ll do great here in Pitt County.”

A member of the N.C. Small Business Center Network, the PCC Small Business Center is committed to job creation and retention in Pitt County. In addition to free seminars on a wide range of business topics, it provides free and confidential counseling services to potential start-ups and small business owners.

The center’s business resources are located within the PCC Greenville Center on Memorial Drive. They are free and open to the public during normal business hours.