Social Entrepreneurship Concept Studied
Moore County Partners in Progress has hired Forward Communities to conduct a feasibility study to determine if a multi-faceted social entrepreneurship initiative can be launched in the county.
“They’re going to tell us if this concept can work here,” said Pat Corso, executive director of Partners in Progress. “In essence, we’re buying the template from them.”
Forward Communities is a subsidiary of Bull City Forward (BCF), a Durham-based nonprofit focused on catalyzing sustainable enterprises. BCF was founded in spring 2010 and served as the model for last fall’s launch of Queen City Forward in Charlotte.
BCF builds pipelines for future entrepreneurs through school and university partnerships, recruitment of outside talent and retaining existing talent, among other methods.
It provides a strong environment to incubate and accelerate new ideas through physical space for co-working, a comprehensive assistance network and access to critical support resources, including financial capital.
“This a perfect scenario for us,” Corso said. “If the concept is validated, then we could enter into an agreement with Bull City Forward to run the program or train someone here to do it.”
Christopher Gergen, founding executive director of BCF, addressed Partners’ board of directors last January, telling them that social entrepreneurship “takes a lot of cross-pollination.”
“You basically have to partner and collaborate with everyone you can to make this work,” Gergen said then.
He noted that social enterprises are often more difficult to successfully operate than traditional businesses because one has to monitor a “double bottom line,” viewing profit as a tool to achieve social good, and there is often no existing path cleared by those who have gone before you.
Partners raised $15,000 to pay for the study at its inaugural Partners Cup golf tournament last month.
“I didn’t have any money in the budget to do it, so the tournament had a purpose,” Corso said. “Now, we’re ready to tee up the study and get moving on it.”
Partners has established a steering committee that will hold a kick-off meeting May 2 with Forward Communities. Committee members include Andi Korte, David Woronoff, Tom McPherson, Matt West, Patrick Coughlin, Anita Holt and Jeremy Reynolds.
Coughlin, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, said he looks forward to understanding how the concept can best be applied in Moore County.
“I think this is a viable sector for economic development,” Coughlin said. “First, you have a rising tide of social entrepreneurism in this region. Secondly, Moore County is full of nonprofit organizations that are focused on the greater social good. And I think there’s a greater awareness in corporations, on the whole, that social responsibility is an important part of their business plan.
“You put those three things together, you’ve got opportunity for social entrepreneurs to work with traditional businesses.”
The study, which is scheduled to be completed this summer, will include a comprehensive asset map and a needs/opportunity analysis, as well as suggested next steps with a proposed budget.
“The focus will be on the opportunities to create new business in Moore County,” Corso said. “What shape this thing takes in the end? I don’t know.”
The study will also assess whether office space is available in Pinehurst, Southern Pines and Aberdeen to host specialty incubators, such as technology, health care and military contracting.
“The key is that they need to be in downtown locations,” Corso said. “We’re hoping for a ripple effect that will create synergy with existing and future businesses in the downtowns.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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