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RALEIGH, N.C. — The NC Rural Center invites potential partners to apply to help distribute up to $50 million in venture capital funds to support early-stage, high-growth small businesses in North Carolina.

A request for proposals (RFP) is now available by request for venture capital funds, limited partnerships, and investors who are interested in participating in the NC Venture Capital Program. NC Venture is part of NCInvest, an investment of $202 million in federal funding granted to the Rural Center by the North Carolina General Assembly to support small businesses in the state.

“The NC Rural Center has always focused on ways to improve capital access for small businesses and startups that struggle to find the capital they need to grow their business dreams,” said Patrick Woodie, President and CEO of the NC Rural Center. “This new venture capital program has the potential to have a transformational impact on the growth, depth, and reach of North Carolina’s venture capital marketplace.”

The Rural Center will host a virtual informational session for interested firms on March 27 from 11 a.m.-noon. You can register to attend by following this link. The RFP will be provided by request to those who attend.

Applications are due by May 5 for those who want to be considered first-round venture partners. NC Venture is particularly interested in investors with a record of success and a focus on supporting entrepreneurs and business owners from traditionally underrepresented groups. The program’s goal is to invest at least 53 percent of the fund in small businesses, founders, or fund managers who qualify under the guidelines for Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Individuals (SEDI) as defined by the Department of Treasury.

“Over the past 50 years or so, socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who start venture-backable companies have struggled to raise less than 1 percent of all private venture capital,” said Rodney Sampson, Venture Capital Fund of Funds manager for the North Carolina Rural Center. “The State of North Carolina’s commitment to invest up to $50 million of its allocation in venture funds is a game-changing model for equitable opportunity in our nation’s startup ecosystem.”