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Small Business Policy Task Force

With the support of a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the NC Rural Center has launched a Small Business Policy Task Force, led by a group of entrepreneurs, small-business advocates, and policymakers all dedicated to empowering North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through direct policy engagement and action. As a part of the grant, the Rural Center and its lending subsidiary, Thread Capital, have signed on to the Kauffman Foundation’s Start Us Up coalition and their national America’s New Business Plan to elevate the importance of entrepreneurship. The initiative provides policymakers at the local, state, and federal level a bipartisan road map for reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and spurring more startups across the country to create new jobs.

The Task Force is working to adapt America’s New Business Plan to North Carolina’s specific context and needs, resulting in a consensus-based policy agenda that leverages the state’s existing assets and small-business infrastructure. The task force also aims to build an equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem all across the state where entrepreneurs of color, women small-business owners, veterans, differently abled, and young small-business owners, have the tools and resources to succeed.


We’ve heard our small-business owners and communities, loud and clear that now is the time for state-based policy solutions to move the needle on this very important issue. This is an issue that impacts both rural and urban small-business owners, thus requiring statewide solutions that address the issue today and into the future.

Patrick Woodie

President, NC Rural Center

Members of the Task Force Include:

  • Vicki Lee Parker-High (co-chair)
  • Mike Hawkins (co-chair)
  • Ja’Net Adams, EMACK Consulting, owner
  • Jose D. Alvarez, Prospera, Vice President-North Carolina
  • David Bennet, EJ Victor, COO
  • Representative James Gailliard, North Carolina General Assembly, District 25
  • Gene McLaurin, Swink Quality Oil Company, President
  • Don Flow, Flow Automotive Companies, Chairman and CEO
  • Terry Johnson, SpokeHub, VP of Digital Content
  • Ben Knight, Artist and Restaurant Co-Owner
  • Dee McDougal, Pacific Western Bank, SVP of Diversity and Inclusion
  • Kevin Price, The Institute, President and CEO
  • Marquita Robertson, The Collaborative, Executive Director
  • Representative Stephen Ross, North Carolina General Assembly, District 63
  • Thom Ruhe, NC IDEA, President and CEO
  • Gregg Thompson, National Federation of Independent Business, State Director
  • Dennis Tracz, East Carolina University, Accelerate Rural NC, Director
  • Alicia Wills, Nature’s Manna, Employee 

Regional Entrepreneur Focus Groups


From the very beginning, the work of SBPTF has been informed by the voices and experiences of North Carolina’s diverse array of entrepreneurs. From September to October 2020, the Rural Center hosted a series of five regional focus groups with small business* owners across the state. These conversations sought to identify the challenges and obstacles facing small business development, as well as potential opportunities for growth and added resources.

* For the purpose of this initiative – the NC Rural Center has placed a special focus on small businesses with fewer than 50 employees.


Join the North Carolina Small Business Coalition

For North Carolina, especially rural North Carolina, to thrive, we have to take every effort possible to support our small businesses, their employees, and the communities they serve.

Sign on as an individual or organizational supporter to be added to the growing North Carolina Small Business Coalition today – and voice your support in ensuring that entrepreneurs and small-business owners have equal access to the capital, resources, and tools needed to prosper.




No Kauffman Foundation funds or budgeted matching funds will be used for lobbying or political purposes.