Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Small Business of the Month: OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling

We are pleased to recognize OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling as our Small Business of the Month. OnTrack OnTrack WNC is a private non-profit, community-supported agency with several United Way funded programs. Since 1973, OnTrack WNC has served the 18 counties in Western North Carolina by helping people achieve their money and housing goals through financial education, counseling and support so that they can overcome crises, afford basic needs, improve money management skills and make sound financial choices rooted in their values.  

Read on for more of our interview with Celeste Collins, OnTrack WNC's Executive Director.

What are you most proud of about the company?
I am most proud of our agency’s 41 years of serving our community, because to have survived as a nonprofit for over four decades we have had to reinvent ourselves time and time again. We have created new services to respond to needs like offering homeownership programs, matched savings, foreclosure prevention counseling, mortgage payment assistance, youth financial literacy programs, and free tax preparation as an IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance site.  

Best advice you’ve gotten for leading a small business.
From book Good to Great:  Get the right people on the bus and get those people in the right seats on the bus. 

OnTrack WNC staff
Your favorite thing in your workspace.
The people on our team.  These smart, dedicated, caring professionals approach their work with enthusiasm, creativity, compassion and perseverance.  They are ready to share knowledge, provide tools, and offer support to help people tackle tough financial issues, change money habits, and gain confidence.  I routinely receive compliments and praise from clients who have benefited from our counseling or education services.

What’s next on the horizon?
More innovation!  2015 will be a year of program innovation.  We’re targeting three specific programs to address needs that we’ve seen in the post-recession economy:
1) Debt Management Program which helps consumers who are struggling with unsecured loans/credit cards. 
2)  Homeownership Program to provide a specific path for people who dream of owning their own home, whether they are months or years away from realizing that dream.
3) Credit Report / Score Program which will help people understand what’s on their credit report, work with them to develop a plan to improve their credit score, and provide support along the way.

The Asheville Chamber’s tagline is “Connect. Engage. Impact. Thrive.” Pick one of these words and tell us what it means to you as a small business in Asheville.

Impact:  Financial stress is a major factor in divorce, low worker productivity, depression, medical issues and more.  We help empower people in their money lives so they can reduce that stress and reach their goals.  Our work creates a positive impact in the individual lives of our clients AND the community.  When we help a family avoid foreclosure, we’ve stabilized their housing AND helped preserve the property values in their neighborhood AND protected the tax base for the city/county.  When we help people get out of debt, we help them minimize the negative impact on their credit AND help the creditors get repaid. When we help people learn about homeownership, determine their affordability range and access down payment assistance, we help them obtain affordable housing which will be more sustainable than a house that is too expensive for their income.  Impact.  We want our work to make a positive impact in people’s financial lives.

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