This piece was contributed by Jamie Stalfort, Lecturer of Entrepreneurship within CSB.
Entrepreneurship is the economic backbone of a thriving community. Just look at the research:
According to the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA), small businesses of 500 employees or fewer make up 99.9% of all U.S. businesses and 99.7% of firms with paid employees. Of the new jobs created between 1995 and 2020, small businesses accounted for 62%—12.7 million compared to 7.9 million by large enterprises. A 2019 SBA report found that small businesses accounted for 44% of U.S. economic activity. Without entrepreneurship, the economic landscape of America – and the world - would look entirely different.
Thankfully, Wilmington has a reputation for nurturing entrepreneurs and small businesses. Wilmington is now ranked the third best ecosystem in North Carolina by Startup Genome and was recently named in the top 100 entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world by StartupBlink. As a whole, North Carolina remains one of the best ranked states to do business in. Not too shabby!
Research has indicated that the components for creating a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem are clear, but far less research has been done on the components of a successful entrepreneurship education. While we know entrepreneurship lifts our communities up, how do we teach people to be successful entrepreneurs? Educators debate the topic constantly: should we teach students to be resilient, creative, and innovative? Or should they be armed with the skills to view financial statements and manage employees? Or maybe a combination of both?
Enter the North Carolina Entrepreneurship Educators Conference. In recent years, entrepreneurship educators and researchers have experienced unprecedented levels of change due to the Covid-19 pandemic, emerging technologies, calls for a greater emphasis on sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion. The conference seeks to bring together high school, community college and university educators from across our great state to collaborate, learn and share ideas surrounding the pedagogy of entrepreneurship.
The 5th Annual NCEEC will be held Friday April 21, 2023 at UNCW. Held at the beautiful UNCW Center for Marine Sciences, located by the Intercoastal Waterway in Wilmington, the conference hopes to foster collaboration, creative thinking, and best practices for educators in the entrepreneurship space. We look forward to addressing many of the important issues in the classroom such as entrepreneurship during crises, the tools that entrepreneurship students need to know upon graduation, how entrepreneurship impacts economic development, the notion of humane entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in agriculture and ocean farming, and how entrepreneurship can address many of the social issues that we deal with in North Carolina.
UNCW is expecting to host sixty plus educators from the foothills to the sandhills in the hopes of re-invigorating the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation among our state’s greatest entrepreneurial minds.
Hopefully, the conference will allow our state’s esteemed entrepreneurship educators to take away tools and ideas to shape the next generation of entrepreneurs. It’s high time for another Wilmington Cinderella story! Our local economy quite literally depends on it.
Emma Dill - Dec 8, 2023
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