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Nine Communities Honored

Nine Communities Honored with Inaugural Governor's Innovative Small Business Community Award

 RALEIGH - Gov. Perdue today honored nine North Carolina communities with the inaugural Governor's Innovative Small Business Community Award for their creative and innovative ways to help small businesses bring jobs to North Carolina.  Two-thirds of all new jobs are created by small businesses, making them critical economic drivers for local communities across the state.

"Small businesses are the backbone of North Carolina's economy.  Supporting our small business owners and entrepreneurs is the best way to improve the unemployment rate," said Gov. Perdue.  "Part of being the best place to do business is providing support for the innovators, risk-takers and small business owners who create jobs."

The Governor's Innovative Small Business Community Award program recognizes projects, strategies and initiatives that reflect excellence in community economic development, small business and entrepreneurship, and sustainability in North Carolina.  Nominated communities were evaluated based on their creative solutions to improve quality of life and well-being through job creation and job sustaining activities. 

The award recipients will be honored at a reception at the Executive Mansion on Nov. 14.

Award recipients:

Town of Burgaw

Kitchen Incubator (BIK)

The Town of Burgaw's BIK is a shared-use commercial kitchen facility located in the historic Burgaw Depot.  BIK provides kitchen space, equipment, and regulatory and business advice to specialty-food makers.  The goal is to encourage and support the transition of small farmers to new markets and to assist small food business entrepreneurs in the town and surrounding areas.  As a part of an assessment of local needs due to the changing economy, the town identified agriculture as an opportunity to explore and transition into new markets with this industry sector. 

To date, two businesses have been started with the help of BIK, one of which was honored by the UNCW Cameron School of Business as entrepreneur of the year.  Also, BIK helped establish a local farming cooperative/value-added processing site in partnership with the Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems.

Town of Elkin

Elkin Center

The Town of Elkin and Surry County converted a vacant unused grocery store in a strip shopping center to create a workforce training center.  Partners in the project included the NC Rural Center, Golden LEAF, Lowes, Duke Energy, Yadkin Valley Bank, BB&T and others.  The town credits this facility with being able to attract the Pittsburgh Glass Works company which plans to create 260 jobs and invest $85 million.

City of Greenville

Small Business Plan

The City of Greenville created a small business plan program for existing enterprises within the city's two Redevelopment areas.  Businesses submit business plans that compete for awards between $15,000 and $30,000.  To date, over 100 business have participated in the competition with 14 award winners.  The competition has helped to change the image of these redevelopment areas through new commercial rehabilitation of deteriorated buildings, the attraction of private developers, and improvements to other surrounding properties by their owners.  In addition, the city partners with approved small business counselors to offer free assistance to participating businesses.

City of Kannapolis

North Carolina Research Campus

The City of Kannapolis, along with the development company Castle and Cooke, are undertaking the redevelopment of the former Fieldcrest Cannon and Pillowtex industrial complex.  This public-private partnership (known as the North Carolina Research Campus-NCRC) is developing a bioscience research campus that will include over 3 million square feet of office, lab and civic space including 1,000 on-campus dwelling units. 

NCRC has partnerships with eight universities, houses a community college workforce training facility, has a non-profit research institute and involves various private sector businesses.  Currently, NCRC employs approximately 300 people representing various organizations with the potential of employing 5,000 people.

City of Lumberton

North Carolina Certified Retirement Community Program

In 2010, the City of Lumberton was designated as the State's first official Certified Retirement Community (CRC).  The CRC goal is to attract persons aged 55 and older to retire in Lumberton based on identified assets including location, climate, affordable housing, cost of living, taxes and access to medical care.  The city believes that by strategically attracting retirees economic activity can be leveraged in a unique way.  The city raised $10,000 from private and local resources for this effort and plans to further support this initiative by identifying specific projects which support the needs of potential retirees.

Town of Maxton

Maxton Learning Academy

The Town of Maxton constructed the Maxton Learning Academy located within the Graham Street Revitalization area.  The 4,500 square foot facility assists low-income students with education and job training.  It is anticipated that the Maxton Learning Academy will serve as a hub of education, training and retraining for youth in this rural community where transportation options are limited. 

Rockingham County

Business and Technology Center

Rockingham County developed a strategy to encourage entrepreneurship and technology to enhance its traditional industrial recruitment efforts and to diversify its economic base.  As a result of this new strategy and focus, the county created the Rockingham County Business and Technology Center (RCBTC) with initial funding received through the e-NC Authority and local resources. 

Additionally, through RCBTC, the county will complete a financial sustainability model for a renewable energy project, BizFuel, which will allow the county to capture methane from its landfill, convert it to electricity and sell it to the grid.  The county launched Piedmontlocalfood.com (a virtual farmers market for 60 farmers) and funded a study to close existing broadband gaps.  And the county operates a branch of the Greensboro Chapter of SCORE which expanded service reach without increasing operations. 

Town of Star

STARworks Center for Creative Enterprise

The Town of Star, in partnership with STARworks, developed a clay factory, established a clay experience studio, built a modern energy-efficient glass blowing studio and provided workshops and technical assistance to entrepreneurs.  The STARworks incubator aims to grow a new economy through the sustainable use of natural and cultural resources of the region.  State and federal grants helped renovate the abandoned 187,000 square foot Renfro Building which houses the center.  To date, 43 jobs have been created in this facility.

Town of Valdese

Valdese Economic Development Investment Corporation (VEDIC)

Faced with the decline of textile manufacturing and food processing industries, the Town of Valdese decided to diversify its economic base.  With help from the NC Rural Center, the town created the Valdese Economic Development Investment Corporation (VEDIC) which provides assistance to small businesses through operating two small business loan programs, conducting workshops, and supporting a mentoring and networking program on behalf of the town.  Loan programs so far have helped create 46 full-time, 32 part-time jobs and sustain 48 existing jobs by loan recipients.