Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship
The Rural Center established the Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship in October 2003 to support the development of micro, small and medium-size enterprises in North Carolina's 85 rural counties. We seek to lead the way in creating a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship. A culture that respects and values those who create and grow their own businesses. One that encourages innovation and risk-taking. And one that recognizes the critical role entrepreneurs can play in revitalizing the rural economy.
The institute's goal is to support:
- Rural communities as they incorporate entrepreneurship into their economic development programs
- Overall improvement in the health and vitality of the small business community in rural areas
- Self-employment as an important source of jobs and income in rural North Carolina
- Development of entrepreneurial companies – new and existing – that can grow and generate jobs and wealth in rural communities
Who is an entrepreneur?
Our definition of entrepreneur includes:
- Aspiring entrepreneurs, who are attracted to the idea of creating enterprises but haven't yet started a business
- Survival entrepreneurs, who start businesses to supply or supplement income
- Lifestyle entrepreneurs, whose businesses allow them to live where or in the way they want
- Growth entrepreneurs, who are motivated to create jobs and wealth
- Serial entrepreneurs, who go on to create several growth businesses
- Social entrepreneurs, who create and grow enterprises that are primarily for public and community purposes
5 pillars of entrepreneurial support
Five key components, or pillars, are essential to a vibrant entrepreneurial community. The institute’s work focuses on the fifth pillar (policy and community support).
- Entrepreneurship education – providing current and future entrepreneurs with high-quality educational and training programs
- Technical assistance – providing easy access (in distance, cost and logistics) to business services and information
- Business finance – ensuring rural businesses access to capital for start-ups, research and development, and business growth
- Business-to-business networks – allowing entrepreneurs to share experiences, ideas and resources, to trade goods and services, and to collaborate on new ventures
- Policy and community support – adopting policies and strategies that encourage business start-ups and growth
Uniting the five pillars are two philosophies:
- No wrong door. Entrepreneurs should be able to obtain the services they need quickly and easily, without navigating through a complex system. Providers of various services should coordinate efforts to make better referrals and smooth the entrepreneur's path from one provider to another.
- No closed door. Services should be equally available, without regard to race, ethnicity, gender or employment status. Any individual with an entrepreneurial mindset, a market-driven product and the willingness to develop business skills should be welcome.