Entrepreneur Effort to Focus on Tech, Health, Military
A new study looking at ways to create and recruit new businesses suggests focusing on entrepreneurs in the technology, wellness and military industries.
The recommendations for Moore County are included in an executive summary of the study from Forward Communities.
“To build out these innovation clusters, we propose a multifaceted ‘ecosystem strategy’ focused on creating a robust pipeline of talent, building a strong enabling environment to help scale high-impact, high-growth enterprises, measuring their economic and social impact, and ensuring that local economic and community development policies support these efforts,” the summary said.
Moore County Partners in Progress hired Forward Communities earlier this year to conduct the study, and representatives of both groups will present the findings Wednesday at 9 a.m. at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club.
“I hope to get emotional buy-in,” said Pat Corso, executive director of Partners in Progress. “We want the community to be enthusiastic about this undertaking, but this is only a launching point. The study is a work-in-progress. It’s not the definitive answer.”
Corso said the targeted industries create “an obvious, concrete opportunity” to build upon. The three areas take advantage of a strong core Moore already has with Fort Bragg and FirstHealth.
“But that platform doesn’t negate other opportunities,” Corso said. “We have to walk before we can crawl. We don’t want people to think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.”
Former Schools Superin-tendent Susan Purser believes that the process to determine if an entrepreneurship initiative can be launched in Moore County worked better than any she had ever experienced.
“I was pretty much blown away by the participation level,” said Purser, who chaired the feasibility study steering committee. “There wasn’t a single work group session that I went to that everybody in the group didn’t participate in the conversation.
“They were all enthusiastic. I saw tremendous optimism about the opportunities for our county.”
The summary indicates that a goal of the Moore County Regional Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative is to transform the local economy by “fostering a robust cluster of innovation” to improve the county’s municipalities.
“Let’s shake it up. Let’s not settle for the status quo,” Corso said. “Let’s see ourselves in a new light.
“This initiative is about creating opportunity, growth and jobs that lead the county to a new level of success that’s more sustainable.”
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 grow and accelerate new ideas through shared workspace for co-working, a comprehensive assistance network and access to critical support resources, including financial capital.
Christopher Gergen, founding executive director of BCF, said he will be looking to gauge support for the initiative and gather feedback at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I hope we have a productive conversation because I think this is an excellent initiative,” Gergen said. “The study is our road map and will show us what we need to do in the future to move the entrepreneurial needle in Moore County.”
Corso said Partners in Progress will co-sponsor the initiative with the Moore County Chamber of Commerce.
“We also hope to bring in Sandhills Community College and possibly the University of North Carolina at Pembroke,” Corso said.
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Chamber, called it “a natural partnership.”
“We’ve always worked well together and supported each other. It just makes sense,” said Coughlin, who also served on the steering committee.
“We take the responsibility seriously. We’re willing to step up and do what we need to do because it’s a great opportunity.”
Purser said the initiative has come a long way “in just a few months” because people are not “sitting around blowing smoke.”
“People believe in it,” she said. “There’s a positive energy that is propelling our county forward and creating an economic vision for the future.”
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or email@example.com.
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