Growth from the ground up

It’s 3 a.m. on a Monday morning. Sweet-smelling steam wafts through a large warehouse in St. Pauls, North Carolina. A vat full of golden kernels bubbles while a nearby machine smashes two stones together, grinding the freshly cooked corn into putty. Across the warehouse, the sound of whirring machinery signals the start of a conveyer belt. Hundreds upon hundreds of nearly perfect circles shoot down a production line that transforms them into hot tortillas.

Enrique Elizondo founded Tortillas Carolina in Clinton, North Carolina, in 2007. He began the business with a small, Mexican tortilla machine that produced approximately 1,500 pounds of tortillas per week. Another machine, a warehouse, and a decade later, he’s producing 25,000 pounds of corn products each week.

“But we have the space, the machines, and the demand to produce 120,000 pounds,” Elizondo said. “I’m ready to grow.”

UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA student Ben Holmes is helping him do just that through NCGrowth, an affiliate of the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise that helps businesses and communities create equitable and sustainable opportunities for their people. Created in 2012 with funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the Kenan Institute, NCGrowth serves economically struggling counties within North Carolina.

Each spring, NCGrowth works with companies from across the state, providing technical assistance to help them grow their enterprise and hire more people from the local community.

Read more about Holmes’ work to help Elizondo at the Endeavors’ website.

Published June 12, 2017