Governor Roy Cooper has proclaimed April 30 – May 6, 2023 as Small Business Week to celebrate the impact of entrepreneurs and small businesses on North Carolina’s economy.
“North Carolina’s small businesses are the fuel for our economy and we couldn’t be number one for business without them,” said Governor Cooper. “The success of our essential small business community, from innovative startups to family-owned companies, deserves to be celebrated for their contributions to North Carolina’s economic prosperity.”
Established by the U.S. Small Business Administration, which defines small businesses as companies with less than 500 employees, Small Business Week is a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit of small businesses across the country. In 2022, North Carolina’s 994,500 small businesses accounted for more than 99% of the state’s businesses while employing 1.7 million people statewide.
“Small businesses employ nearly 45% of our state’s private-sector workforce,” said N.C. Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “As community builders and champions, small businesses have a multiplier effect on the local economies by creating more job opportunities and investments for their communities.”
Small businesses also contribute significantly to the flow of goods from North Carolina to the global market with more than 9,100 small firms exporting merchandise from North Carolina, generating 21.4% of the state’s $26 billion in exports in 2020.
North Carolina’s strategic economic development plan, First in Talent, identifies key goals to prepare North Carolina’s workforce and businesses for success, including bolstering small businesses with inclusive opportunities for new entrepreneurs and women- and minority-owned firms.
Last year, North Carolina was awarded up to $201 million from the U.S. Treasury Department to promote small business growth and entrepreneurship through the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Department of Commerce awarded 11 NCWorks Small Business Work-Based Learning grants to help local workforce development boards provide training and services to connect jobseekers to small businesses.
The Commerce department’s One North Carolina Small Business Program awards nondilutive grants to innovative, tech-based small businesses that are applying for and/or have previously won federal research and technology awards. Since 2006, the Program has helped more than 500 small businesses create and maintain more than 1,200 jobs across the state and leverage an additional $8 billion in follow-on investment. Applications for the Program are currently being accepted through June 30.
Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division leads economic development initiatives and programs to support small businesses through the Appalachian Regional Commission and Main Street and Rural Planning Center. Together, these rural programs supported the creation or improvement of nearly 900 businesses in rural North Carolina last year.
In January, North Carolina launched a tourism-focused economic recovery initiative to help build economic resiliency for the state’s tourism and outdoor recreation industries, which impacts small businesses.
Collaboratively, public agencies, education institutions and private-sector organizations assist small businesses with growth strategies and job creation by providing workforce training, business mentoring, financial assistance, research, technical assistance, and export services.
North Carolina provides many services to small businesses through NCWorks, community college small business centers, the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center, SCORE, the Veterans Business Outreach Center, the Rural Center and a toll-free information and referral service known as the Small Business Advisors hotline.
For more information about Small Business Week, including a copy of Governor Cooper’s proclamation, click here.