North Carolina Public Libraries as Entrepreneurial Learning Centers


We believe that entrepreneurial thinking can have significant economic impact in North Carolina – whether that thinking is at a startup company, at a larger established company, at a government office or at a non-profit. NC IDEA’s ambition is to educate 100,000 North Carolinians with this entrepreneurial mindset. Furthermore, we have a hypothesis that the state’s public libraries are an un-tapped but powerful mechanism to spread that mindset and be an important contributor to economic growth, particularly in areas of the state that are experiencing economic distress.

The goal of this pilot program is to identify effective strategies for North Carolina public libraries to become effective members of their community’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. NC IDEA will select 10 public libraries to explore ways they can support the development of entrepreneurial activity in their service areas. The roles that will be explored will range from supporting existing ecosystems to initiating ecosystem development.

The Ice House Entrepreneurship Program (IHEP) will be the major component of the pilot. The background and details can be found here.

We are seeking 10 forward-thinking libraries from around the state who wish to join us on this journey. The pilot program will run from August 2019 to June 2020.


Pilot Project Requirements for Selected Libraries

  1. Library will identify a staff member as the project coordinator and allocate a portion of staff time to the project.
  2. Library will send one staff member or an identified community member to the August 6-8, 2019 NC IDEA IHEP Facilitator Training in Wilson, NC.
  3. Library will implement IHEP training between September and November 2019, and a second between January and March 2020. (NC IDEA strongly prefers that a library implement two sessions, but may consider a library if they are only able to do one of these sessions).
  4. Library will develop and implement an awareness campaign designed to increase community awareness of entrepreneurship as an option for either employment, business creation or community problem-solving. EBSCO and NC IDEA will assist in development of these materials.
  5. Library will implement an “NC IDEA Entrepreneurship Corner” display from September through December.
  6. Library will complete a survey that documents their current level of service to and interaction with their local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
  7. The Library’s project coordinator (and other staff, if desired) will participate in quarterly web conferences with staff from other pilot libraries to report on progress, discuss successes and cooperatively work through challenges. Staff members will also participate in one-on-one monthly phone calls with the program coordinator.
  8. Library will complete a final project report that documents their activities, results and lessons learned. The basis of this report will be a follow-up survey.

NC IDEA will fund facilitator training (including travel expenses), marketing and display materials, and the cost of materials for program participants.



Applications for this pilot project will be accepted May 1 – May 30, 2019. Selected libraries will be notified on a rolling basis, with final notifications by June 15.

NC IDEA will select libraries based on their commitment of resources to the program. We intend to create a cohort of 10 libraries that are diverse across several factors: geography, urban/rural/suburban, library size, Tier 1/Tier 2/Tier 3 counties and level of current entrepreneurial/economic development activity.

Click here to apply for the program.