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Growing America Through Entrepreneurship



Growing America Through Entrepreneurship offers self-employment scholarships to dislocated or laid-off workers in rural North Carolina. If you have been laid off from work in a rural area, you may be eligible to receive custom training, coaching and other free assistance to help you explore self-employment.  


The North Carolina GATE program is offered by the Rural Center in partnership with several key North Carolina partners, including the N.C. Small Business Center Network.


How to apply

  1. View the GATE orientation video. The GATE orientation video will help you learn more about the GATE scholarship and whether self-employment is the right path for you. The video walks through the GATE program and illustrates some of the risks and rewards of starting a small business. 
  2. Submit an online application. You will be asked a number of questions about your background, your employment and your interest in starting a business. Please answer all of the questions. There are no wrong answers.

Need Help? Call 1-877-9NC-GATE


Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the GATE scholarship you must:

  • Be a dislocated worker (lost a job through no fault of your own as a result of a business closing or layoff) and be eligible for the Workforce Investment Act program. (See more on WIA qualifications.)
  • Be 18 or older and eligible to work in the United States
  • Live in one of North Carolina's 85 rural counties. If you live in an urban county, you may be eligible if you live were laid off most recently by a company in a rural county and plan to start your business in a rural county.


GATE services

As a GATE client, you’ll have access an array of free services to help you plan and start a small business.


Business coaching with a counselor who will help you navigate the road to self-employment, providing advice and support at each step. The coach also will help you access resources in your area.


 An assessment of your entrepreneurial readiness. Your counselor will help you gauge your aptitude for self-employment and review your personal budgets and credit history, leading to a financial road map and business plan.


Training scholarships for business-planning workshops and other relevant coursework. You’ll be invited to attend regular webinars and complete self-guided training programs.


 A job-search waiver for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits. If you were recently laid off, you may be eligible to continue receiving unemployment insurance benefits while starting your business.


Access to capital. As you move toward self-employment, your coach will help you identify business finance options and how best to leverage your own resources. Loan acceptance, however, is not guaranteed.


 Ongoing assistance beyond the ribbon cutting. Coaching is provided throughout the start-up process.



Where is the GATE program offered?

The GATE program is offered in all of North Carolina’s 85 rural counties. Most clients complete their training online or at a nearby campus of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges. Depending on your location, you may be able to work with a local GATE counselor at a nearby community college. If not, you will work with a GATE counselor by phone and email through our virtual site based at the Rural Center in Raleigh.


Click here for a list of GATE program sites and counselor contact information.


GATE partners

Growing America Through Entrepreneurship is offered by the Rural Center in partnership with:


The N.C. Department of Commerce Division of Workforce Solutions


The N.C. Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security


The N.C. Community Colleges


The N.C. Small Business Center Network



NC REAL Entrepreneurship



Barry Ryan, Director of Entrepreneurship

N.C. Rural Economic Development Center

4021 Carya Drive

Raleigh, NC  27610

Telephone: (919) 250-4314

Fax: (919) 250-4325