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Rural Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development


Small businesses are a significant asset to North Carolina’s rural small towns. It took longer for our rural small businesses to recover from the 2008 Great Recession than their urban counterparts, and two major hurricanes and the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic threatens our rural small business sector once again. For rural North Carolina to thrive, we

have to take every effort possible to support our small businesses, their employees, and the communities they serve. The NC Rural Center’s lending subsidiary, Thread Capital, in partnership with other community development financial institutions (CDFIs) across the state, are playing their part to address critical financing needs to keep small businesses up and running through the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program. However, much more needs to be done to meet the needs of our state’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. The underlying systemic issues impacting the plight of our small business sector require fiscally sound policy solutions.

In North Carolina, businesses with less than 50 employees make up 95 percent of business entities with more than one employee/proprietor. These very small firms account for 44 percent of all employment in North Carolina. Most of these firms are in food and accommodation, retail, and entertainment/recreation sectors.



  • Adopt a statewide small business policy agenda that fully addresses the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses, with special attention on underserved areas, and businesses owned by people of color, veterans and women.
  • Promote responsible practices in the non-bank small-business lending sector to create greater transparency and fairness for potential borrowers.
  • Balance state economic development efforts with an added emphasis on supporting entrepreneurs and retaining existing firms.
  • Address regulatory barriers that hinder entrepreneurs from starting and growing businesses.
  • Increase funding and coordination of technical assistance for rural communities nurturing small business development and downtown revitalization.
  • Support long-term disaster recovery and resiliency through improving small business support and strategic planning.