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Burgaw businessman tapped by SBA as Small Business Person of Year



BURGAW — A businessman in Burgaw is being recognized by a federal agency next month after being recognized as North Carolina’s Small Business Person of the Year.

Michael McWhorter founded Mojotone in Greensboro in 2000. It creates amps, audio cabinets and other components for guitars and sells products to retail music stores as well as manufacturers worldwide. The company ships items directly to musicians as well, with its products reaching artists such as Rush, Green Day, ZZ Top, Eric Clapton, Garth Brooks and Iron Maiden.

The operation moved to Burgaw in 2005 and by 2018 moved into a 40,000 square-foot building, a collaborative effort made possible by the Town of Burgaw, Pender County, Wilmington Business Development, and Four County Electric Membership Corporation.

McWhorter was nominated as 2023’s Small Business Person of the Year by Paige O’Neill, the international business counselor at the UNCW’s Small Business and Technology Development Center. 

“Mojotone is an innovative business that is willing to take risks in the acoustic guitar arena and develop specialized products that are high in demand,” O’Neill said in a press release.

She went on to describe McWhorter as an exemplary leader and local stalwart that gives back to community.

“Michael believes in honoring his local community through volunteer activities, partnering with nonprofits, and shining a light on custom manufacturing processes,” she said in the release.

The U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes businesses from every state, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, annually out of America’s 33 million small businesses.

Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), said the organization assesses entrepreneurs that have built the “American dream” and proven resiliency in their market, while creating jobs and showcasing innovation.

“These incredible entrepreneurs show the vibrancy and grit of our nation’s small businesses,” she said in the release. “From Main Street to manufacturing hubs and tech centers, they are powering our economy. We hope their stories inspire and motivate the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

National Small Business Week is held from April 30 through May 6. Winners will be recognized on Sunday, April 30, at an awards ceremony in D.C.

In the release, McWhorter expressed gratitude for the honor but also touted the Tar Heel state and its state-run agencies for helping grow a “business-friendly environment,” magnified by its “top universities and strong workforce.”

“All these things helped my business grow into what it is today,” he said in the release. “At Mojotone, we’ve built a strong team of dedicated and talented people, so even though this award is for the SBA ‘Person of the Year,’ I really share it with all of the Mojotone employees for the hard work and the effort they put into customer service and into making great products.”

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