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Entrepreneurs

Grant Funds To Enhance Local Entrepreneurship Resources

By Johanna Cano, posted Nov 15, 2021
A local partnership led by the Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington (NEW) is a recipient of the Regional Impact Grants from NC IDEA, according to a press release.

NEW, the University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) and the UNC-Pembroke Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub received a grant aimed at helping “strengthen the infrastructure supporting North Carolina entrepreneurs via collaboration and the sharing of resources and networks.”

The Regional Impact Grant was open to former winners of the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM and NC IDEA ENGAGE grant programs. The grant required at least two organizations to collaborate on a program that supports entrepreneurs with “building scalable businesses” and that focuses on a specific region.

With NEW being a recipient of both grants, it partnered with the CIE for its mentor program and Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub, for its new Sandhills Entrepreneurship Engagement Network (SEEN) program, said Jim Roberts, founder of NEW, in an email.

This partnership represents the Wilmington/Coastal NC and Sandhills Region. While the amount of the grant was not disclosed, Roberts said grants were up to $50,000.

With this grant, the partnership will work on three items: a new entrepreneur program, website development and marketing, Roberts said.

The first is a peer-to-peer entrepreneur network that aims to connect business owners to each other.

“Everyone right now is feeling tired – and that includes entrepreneurs. CIE and NEW plan to collaborate with GO-OD Consulting founders June Gunter and Toula Ousouljoglou to roll out a new program called Startup EQ for entrepreneurs to help them be more resilient,” Heather McWhorter, CIE interim director and UNCW SBTDC regional director, said in an email. “Our thought is that resilient entrepreneurs will build resilient businesses that will be built to last in our community. This program will provide entrepreneurs with the tools to restore their energy, have healthy conversations, and foster healthy cultures.”

Entrepreneurs will be able to apply to be part of Startup EQ and it will include virtual sessions, an online community for entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate with each other to share best practices and individual coaching, McWhorter said.

The second item the grant will go toward includes a new website for the Coalition, a group devoted to the growth of entrepreneurs and small businesses in the region. This would have a more robust calendar of events to keep entrepreneurs informed about local resources available.

“The Coalition has been begging for a new website for two years or more, but we could not find the local budget to make it happen,” Roberts said.

The third item is to provide new marketing techniques for events hosted by NEW. While the organization has a large number of participants at its events, recently attendance has slipped.

“We were disappointed in the level of participation of the local entrepreneurs when we had high profile events with the leader of Techstars Austin and the viewing party for the PBS TV show Start Up,” Roberts said. “We will be working with communication experts to incorporate more video communications to entice more participation from the community in our ecosystem.”

NC IDEA also announced winners of the Fall 2021 NC IDEA SEED grant and other Regional Impact grant winners. Click here to view all the recipients.
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