Home Local News NC Rural Center receives America’s New Business Plan grant

NC Rural Center receives America’s New Business Plan grant

RALEIGH — The NC Rural Center recently received a $250,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to build an entrepreneur-led network of small-business advocates and state policymakers dedicated to empowering our state’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through direct policy action. 

As a part of the grant, the NC Rural Center and its lending subsidiary, Thread Capital, have signed on to the Kauffman Foundation’s Start Us Up coalition and policy initiative, America’s New Business Plan, which provides policymakers at the local, state, and federal level a bipartisan roadmap for reducing barriers to entrepreneurship and spurring more startups across the country to create new jobs.

“The grants in this portfolio will bring new ideas and new voices to policy debates so that entrepreneurship is no longer an afterthought,” said Jason Wiens, policy director in entrepreneurship at the Kauffman Foundation. “Together, they will level the playing field so that anyone with an idea has access to the opportunity, funding, knowledge, and support to turn it into a reality.”

America’s New Business Plan outlines four policy focuses to support entrepreneurs, especially women, people of color, and rural residents. 

The primary approaches of America’s New Business Plan are: 

Opportunity: a level playing field and less red tape 

Funding: equal access to the right kind of capital everywhere 

Knowledge: the know-how to start a business 

Support: the ability for all to take risks

“Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of the American economy,” said NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. “But the dynamism of our state’s small business climate is steadily declining.” In a report released by the Rural Center, there was a seven percent decline in very small business establishments (fewer than 10 employees) from 2005-2015 in rural North Carolina. Over the same period, North Carolina’s 80 rural counties experienced a 61 percent decline in bank lending to businesses with less than $1 million in revenues, for a total decline of $1.6 billion in annual lending. 

“This report was published before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Woodie. “But it’s likely that this pandemic will only exacerbate or irreversibly damage the existing fault lines in our entrepreneurial ecosystem, making this work all the more important.”

“America’s New Business Plan focuses on building an equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem all across the state where entrepreneurs of color, young small-business owners, and dislocated and disenfranchised workers have the tools, resources and supports to succeed,” said NC Rural Center Director of Advocacy Brandy Bynum Dawson. “COVID-19 especially has had a significant impact on our state’s economy, and rebuilding our economy is reliant on the collective success of rural, suburban, and urban entrepreneurs.” 


Since 1989, the Rural Center has provided financing to entrepreneurs in all 100 counties of North Carolina, and since 2010 has managed North Carolina’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, one of three programs created by the federal Small Business Jobs Act. Currently, the Rural Center manages the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program, with Thread Capital as one of seven statewide lending partners. 

“COVID-19 has brought us a moment of national clarity, where we see how much of a role local small businesses play in our individual lives and in our state and national economy,” said Bynum Dawson. “This work takes on additional urgency and salience in this moment, and we are excited to be joining this coalition of more than 100 entrepreneurship advocacy groups nationwide. We look forward to the work we will be doing in the coming year.”

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