Editor’s Note: Thom Ruhe is the president and CEO of NC IDEA, which recently announced the recipients of the Fall 2021 SEED grants. This post is one portion of a WRAL TechWire series on gratitude, published in November 2021.
DURHAM – We have much for which to be thankful. We are one of the faster growing (population) states in the nation, with an expanding tax base and an unemployment rate (4.1%) below the national average of 4.6%. Several metro markets of NC were ranked by Startup Genome for emerging entrepreneurial ecosystems and the Durham/Raleigh MSA cracked the list for top global ecosystems.
We are having record startups and private equity funds continue to see great opportunities in our state. Introspectively, we are optimistic as we make historic funding commitments, 4x greater than what we deployed when I started at the Foundation five years ago. Our MICRO grant program appears to be strengthening the statewide pipeline for people wanting to start high-growth potential companies, as was evidenced by our recent SEED grant awards; 6 of 9 grantees being former MICRO grant recipients.
All things considered, we are very bullish about 2022.
If we are successful in allocating significant ARPA and BBB funding to support the startup potential of North Carolina, 2022 may be the start of significant growth and equitable opportunity for many. But we will need the political will and courage to work together for the common good, which will require resolve that is, for the moment, in short supply. If we had bipartisan support for entrepreneurship, we could become a national exemplar for balanced economic development that supports business attraction and business startups.