By Ret Boney
With the goal of kick-starting entrepreneurism in the eastern part of the state, the Foundation of Renewal for Eastern North Carolina and the Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise at UNC-Chapel Hill have agreed to become partner organizations.
“The goal is to establish a commitment to developing programming that’s mutually beneficial,” says Phillip Horne, the foundation’s former president and a current member of its executive committee.
“But it’s also to signal a commitment to eastern North Carolina along the lines of developing opportunities for entrepreneurial education, community development and global strategies,” he says.
FoR ENC, based in Greenville, was established in 2002 to foster economic, entrepreneurial and cultural growth in Eastern North Carolina, and is funded through grants and donations.
The affiliation, effective April 20, calls for the two entities to remain independent, but Horne says each group will incorporate into its planning committee a board or staff member of the partner organization in an effort to ensure their work is complementary.
The evolution of the partnership began about a year ago, Horne says, and follows the model the Frank Hawkins Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, which is part of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has followed with other affiliates around the globe.
Horne says there will be no direct financial impact on the foundation, which reported assets of about $2 million at the end of 2006 and received about $650,000 last year in contracts and grants.
“We hope our collective work can help to be a catalyst for the diversification and transformation of Eastern North Carolina in terms of its economy and competitiveness,” he says.
Currently, the organizations are working on a strategic plan to build the entrepreneurial foundation of the region by capitalizing on the talents of entrepreneurs moving to the region’s inner banks and inland coastal communities.
The groups also are working to complete a project that creates opportunities throughout the eastern part of the state for accelerating the “creative economy,” which includes workers like software developers, doctors and artisans.
“We hope that through that work we can draw greater attention to the need to place resources to the greater benefit of the region,” says Horne.