State treasurer Janet Cowell will be in Wilmington next week to talk about the importance of innovation in the state’s economy and to learn about area innovators and entrepreneurs, University of North Carolina Wilmington officials said Tuesday.
Cowell will deliver opening remarks at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s breakfast event April 24: The Big 5 Employers: Pains That Keep Us Up at Night, the university’s news release stated. The event features executives from Castle Branch, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, PPD, UNCW and the N.C. Military Business Center talking about their needs, the challenges they face and the opportunities that exist for local entrepreneurs.
Cowell will also meet with local innovators and learn more about the region’s current economic development initiatives, according to the news release.
"Innovation is key to growing North Carolina's economy,” Cowell said in the release. “I'm excited to have the opportunity to discuss innovation and job creation – and overcoming challenges – with key leaders in Southeast North Carolina."
Cowell, who has spent more than 20 years in private- and public-sector financial leadership, oversees more than $80 billion in pension investments for the more than 875,000 teachers, firefighters and public employees in North Carolina. The first woman to hold the position of North Carolina state treasurer, she manages the 32nd largest public pension in the world and the third most solid in the nation, the release stated.
By law, a portion of pension funds must be invested in the N.C. Innovations Fund, part of whose mission is to “foster the creation and growth of young and maturing companies in North Carolina,” according to the fund’s website.
The fund does not make direct investments in early-stage companies, said CIE director Jim Roberts; it invests in venture capital funds, which then make the investments into early-stage companies.
“We hope the treasurer's visit will serve as a magnet for regional investors who are interested in the N.C. Innovation Fund, which is a fund of venture capital funds,” Roberts said.
The Big 5 Employers breakfast event will be held at The Terraces on Sir Tyler. Seating is limited and registration
is currently open.