Filings for new businesses in the Cape Fear region have continued at a steady pace following a post-pandemic burst of activity.
North Carolina ended 2022 with its second-highest year of new business filings on record, followed by a record-setting 2021. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said filings last year were 70% higher than new business creations in 2019.
"While there's been a slight bit of moderation from the historic growth of new business creation filings in 2021, 2022 was still the 2nd highest year on record by a wide margin,” she said. “It's an expression of North Carolina's entrepreneurial spirit that so many people across the state have shown such determination to innovate their way out of tough times or found new exciting opportunities."
Amid job disruptions, losses and life reevaluations that began in 2020, Marshall’s office was flooded with new business creation filings. In August, she described the trend
as an “explosion” that made her office “almost dizzy.”
In Pender and Brunswick counties, new business filings in 2022 beat out 2021 totals. Pender County saw nearly 1,000 new businesses created, more than twice as many launched in 2019. Brunswick County had nearly 1,900 filings, also more than double pre-pandemic figures.
New Hanover County was on par with statewide trends, whereby filings remained strong but slightly tapered off from record-setting 2021 totals. The county ended 2022 with 4,317 new filings, down 6% from the previous year, but nearly double the pre-pandemic count.
University of North Carolina Wilmington Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship director Heather McWhorter said the area’s startup rates mirror a national record-breaking movement.
“This is an incredible trend that we are witnessing,” she said. McWhorter credited multiple reasons for the flurry in entrepreneurial activity.
“For one, 1 in 3 people have wanted to start a business for a long time and have used the pandemic as the jump-start to create their business (extra time at home, and the ‘if not now, then when?’ mentality because ‘you don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow’),” she said. “Some people have done this also as employers have required that they returned to work so they could either stay-at-home with their business and flexibility that it allows, or returned to work with the side hustle and the hope to make it full time someday soon.”
Also, she said entrepreneurship in the Cape Fear region can be a good option for the technical workforce that may otherwise struggle to find a job but desire to live in the area. “For example, trailing spouses or people who threw caution into the wind and moved here and weren’t able to find the right job and are creating their own job so they can stay,” she said.