The 2023 Mission Acceleration Business Accelerator class stands together in downtown Hendersonville on May 24, 2023.

Mission Acceleration Program Prepares 14 Graduates for Business Success

Featured Photo: The 2023 Mission Acceleration Business Accelerator class stands together in downtown Hendersonville on May 24, 2023. (Photo by: Benjamin Rickert. High resolution photos are available on Google Drive.)

Marketing & Communications Dept.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – This spring, 14 area professionals completed the Mission Acceleration Business Accelerator program presented by Blue Ridge Community College and the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce. The five-month entrepreneurial program was designed to help for-profit, family owned, and non-profit businesses to increase innovation and profitability.

Dr. Nena Butterfield, program graduate and resource development and community relations director at Pavillon Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center, called the program “invaluable.”

“The most helpful thing about Mission Acceleration was learning practical, applicable, and most of the time free ways to improve your business model,” she said.

Over ten sessions, the participants learned essential business concepts from program leader Gary Heisey and industry professionals in areas such as goal-setting; management and leadership; sales and marketing; customer service; information technology; accounting and finance; human resources; laws and insurance; and more. The program also helped participants learn to identify, track, and monitor key performance indicators to accelerate the success of their businesses.

Program graduate Michael Thompson recently inherited the 43-year-old Piggy’s Ice Cream parlor and Harry’s Grill restaurant alongside his brother. He participated in the program to gain the skills needed to take his family businesses to the next level, and he noted his increased awareness of the importance of social media, as well as an attractive and user-friendly website.

“Now that we are the owners, we needed to take a fresh look at the business and be more intentional in the business,” said Thompson. “[Mission Acceleration] included a lot of planning, thought-provoking ideas and preparedness. It was just a great program.”

Dr. Butterfield called Gary Heisey’s practical approach to the program “down to Earth.”

“He gives you extremely useful information that is very easy to apply every day,” she explained.

This spring’s Mission Acceleration class was celebrated on May 24 through an informal graduation event held in downtown Hendersonville with a group photo taken outside the Historic Henderson County Courthouse.

The next Mission Acceleration Business Accelerator program is scheduled to run from January 17 to May 22 in 2024. Program application information, dates and topics are available at

The Spring 2023 Mission Acceleration program graduates included:
• Rebecca Bonnema, Echo Mountain Inn
• Travis Bonnema, Echo Mountain Inn
• Nena Butterfield, Pavillon Substance Use Disorder Treatment Center
• Anna Conner, Rent828
• Renato Flores, NextHome WNC
• Michelle Geiser, Hope Coalition
• Julie Huneycutt, Hope Coalition
• Terrye Jacobs, City of Hendersonville
• Michelle Newman, Town of Tryon
• Dakota Parker, City of Hendersonville
• Eatherley Schultz, Floressence Flowers, Inc.
• Sellers Shook, El Centro Transylvania
• Michael Thompson, Piggy’s Ice Cream and Harry’s Grill
• David Woodworth, Heartland Harps and Music