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NC IDEA and MDC Announce Release of “Strengthening North Carolina’s Rural Entrepreneurship Future” Report

Organizations Partner to Announce Opportunities and Challenges of Rural Entrepreneurs in NC

DURHAM, NC – June 20, 2024 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, in partnership with MDC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to equipping Southern leaders, institutions, and communities with the necessary tools and strategies to advance equity and economic mobility in the US South, announced today the release of “Strengthening North Carolina’s Rural Entrepreneurship Future: Rural Entrepreneur & Ecosystem Partner Perspectives,” a full report including in-depth analysis and recommendations around rural entrepreneurship development. Together, with funding provided by Wells Fargo, NC IDEA and MDC have partnered to explore avenues to better support the needs of rural entrepreneurs across the state.

“Growing up in rural North Carolina, I’ve seen firsthand the huge potential for local entrepreneurs and the need for expanded resources,” said Brandy Bynum Dawson, Senior Program Director of Rural Prosperity and Investment at MDC. “Now, more than ever, it’s time to push for efforts that support and celebrate the value of rural entrepreneurship,” Bynum Dawson added.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of challenges and opportunities and explore ways to better support the needs of rural entrepreneurs across North Carolina, NC IDEA and MDC brought together rural entrepreneurs and the organizations that support them to document their unique experiences. Expanding access to broadband, unique place-based opportunities in agriculture and biotechnology, and the steadily increasing population size in many rural communities are timely indicators that now is an opportune time to invest in rural entrepreneurship.

“At a time when broadband access is improving and the ‘new normal’ has changed the way we work and live, the landscape of rural opportunity is evolving rapidly,” said Barry Ryan, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at NC IDEA. “Our state’s rural entrepreneurs and their supporting communities have shared a vision for building a more vibrant future for our state, and in this report, we have documented a playbook of the tools and resources they need to make that vision a reality,” Ryan added.

North Carolina’s rural communities thrive on their culture of ingenuity and resilience. Rural entrepreneurs face many challenges in the development and sustainment of their businesses, yet there are also a host of opportunities found only in rural North Carolina’s unique landscape. As many rural regions have continued to grow, it has become apparent that there are some key economic and social advantages for small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural communities. Given NC IDEA’s track record of advancing the entrepreneurial potential of our state, the Foundation is uniquely positioned to call on economic development and community leaders to collaboratively respond to the needs of North Carolina’s rural entrepreneurs.

“Wells Fargo is proud to collaborate with NC IDEA Foundation and MDC to support their work aimed at building a stronger ecosystem of support for rural entrepreneurs and their communities,” said Jay Everette, head of Community Relations for Wells Fargo. “Rural small business owners are the backbone of our local and regional economies, especially here in North Carolina. As the Bank of Doing, Wells Fargo is committed to making meaningful investments to help them succeed,” Everette added.

For an in-depth analysis and recommendations, you can access the full report, “Strengthening North Carolina’s Rural Entrepreneurship Future: Rural Entrepreneur & Ecosystem Partner Perspectives” at https://ncidea.org/rural-entrepreneurship/.

About NC IDEA Foundation
NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to equitably empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the Foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at www.ncidea.org.

About MDC
MDC equips Southern leaders, institutions, and communities with the necessary tools and strategies to advance equity—particularly racial and gender equity—and economic mobility. For over 50 years, institutions, communities, foundations, and others across the South have turned to MDC for deep knowledge and proven tools to design, demonstrate, and sustain what works to boost members of underinvested communities to higher rungs on the economic ladder. Learn more at www.mdcinc.org.