Institute for Rural Entrepreneurship
Whether drive by necessity, opportunity or the desire to fulfill a dream, self-employment has been on a steady increase in recent years. Today, more than 215,000 rural North Carolinians work for themselves.
By contrast, agriculture and manufacturing are employing fewer rural residents. Workers with decades of experience have lost their jobs because of plant closings and layoffs. Young people just starting out have had a tough time navigating a career track in an economy that is adding so few jobs.
The Rural Center believes some of these workers are well-suited for self-employment. Some ran side businesses while employed full-time. Others learned the fundamentals of commerce while growing up in a family business. Still others have hobbies with earnings potential.
Laid off in 2009, Chris Carroll has carved out a new business and has plans to expand.
The Rural Center has joined with other agencies to help these individuals assess and strengthen their potential as entrepreneurs.
New Generation Ventures
New Generation Ventures provides scholarships for business coursework, together with business counseling and support, to make self-employment attainable for rural young adults. It is open to young people, ages 18 to 30, who commit to launching or expanding a business in one of North Carolina's 85 rural counties.
The program offers: business coaching, skills assessments, training scholarships, networking opportunities, and access to local business mentors and new forms of business capital. New Generation Ventures can provide a path to start-up money for young business owners who might not otherwise qualify for traditional bank loans. The Rural Center works through a network of partnering agencies, including the North Carolina Community College System, to deliver these services.
The program targets young adults who self-identify as unemployed or underemployed, but is open to all rural adults between 18 and 30, even those who have already started a business.
New Generation Ventures is modeled after Project GATE, a similar program aimed at laid-off workers.
Project GATE: Growing America through Entrepreneurship
North Carolinians who’ve lost their jobs through a layoff or plant closing may explore possibilities for self-employment through Project GATE, or Growing America Through Entrepreneurship. The project is a scholarship program that provides training and coaching to help rural dislocated workers interested in starting a business.
The demonstration is being led by the N.C. Department of Commerce in cooperation with the N.C. Community College System – Small Business Center Network, the N.C. Division of Employment Security, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, North Carolina REAL Enterprises and local JobLink Career Centers. The project originated as part of a 2009-11 demonstration funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Where GATE is offered
GATE is being offered to laid-off workers throughout rural North Carolina and to laid-off state government employees regardless of where they live. There are two possible ways to participate.
- The GATE program is being offered through the Small Business Centers of eight community colleges: Edgecombe, Isothermal, Lenoir, Randolph, Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham and Western Piedmont. These colleges serve 13 rural counties.
- Dislocated workers from the remaining 72 rural counties and laid-off state workers in urban counties are served through a “virtual site” operated by the Rural Center. This will include counseling by phone and online training programs combined with training and business counseling through the Small Business Center of other community colleges.
An application process is involved. Those eligible for the program receive:
- Individual assessment of entrepreneurial skills
- Entrepreneurship training and counseling
- An introduction to other resource professionals who can help you throughout the life of your business
- Help applying for a microenterprise loan upon completion of a workable business plan
Apply now at http://www.ncprojectgate.org/.
Project GATE builds on the lessons learned in an earlier demonstration project called NOW, or New Opportunities for Workers. Funded by the N.C. Department of Commerce, NOW ran from 2004 to 2007 and served 933 dislocated workers with readiness assessments, business training and counseling. The Rural Center collaborated on the project with the N.C. Commission on Workforce Development, N.C. Department of Commerce's Division of Employment and Training (now called Workforce Services), N.C. Community College System Small Business Center Network and North Carolina REAL Enterprises. At its height NOW operated at 22 community colleges.
For more information on Project GATE: