Building a Diverse Business Community Blog
Small business owners need a strong ecosystem to thrive. That ecosystem provides technical assistance, connections to space, and other resources and capital to launch and grow. Indeed, minority entrepreneurs sometimes struggle to find and gain access to the small amount of capital they need to launch or expand their businesses.
Across the country, entrepreneurs often face barriers to entry when looking to start a small business. This is especially the case when it comes to people of color and women, who often face distinct barriers to success in their chosen industry. One example is the craft brewing industry. Craft breweries have exploded in popularity across North Carolina in recent years. In 2021, the state was home to over 360 craft breweries, collectively producing nearly a million barrels of beer a year. The number of breweries is up six-fold from 59 in 2011. However, of these 360 breweries, only two are owned and operated by people of color. Those in the industry say this disparity hinders craft brewing both economically and culinarily and makes it more difficult for other people of color to pursue a passion for craft brewing. Currently, Town Brewing, located in Charlotte, offers a paid internship through their Many Faces Initiative to involve more people of color in the trade.
As reflected by the brewery industry, it often takes intentional strategies in the private sector to diversify business ownership. In Asheboro and Randolph County, VentureAsheboro is helping minority-owned businesses by giving them access to tools they need to take off and grow. VentureAsheboro acts as a business accelerator, providing entrepreneurs with tools and resources to help them navigate creating their own businesses. The organization hosts networking events that can help business owners make crucial connections with other community members who might be interested in investing in their businesses. They also have physical spaces entrepreneurs can rent if they don’t have access to office space elsewhere, which include office, conference room, and event space. VentureAsheboro has been successful in helping over 80 small businesses get their start in Randolph County, thereby playing a vital role in sustaining the local economy. Many rural towns and counties rely heavily on such small businesses to maintain a strong economy, and VentureAsheboro is contributing to that strength by cultivating new businesses for future generations.
Small business owners need a strong ecosystem to thrive. That ecosystem provides technical assistance, connections to space, and other resources and capital to launch and grow. Indeed, minority entrepreneurs sometimes struggle to find and gain access to the small amount of capital they need to launch or expand their businesses. Often the numbers are too small to make sense for big banks. This is an important gap filled by organizations like NCIDEA and Thrive Rural. In Halifax County, for example, partners have stepped up to create an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs. The Small Business Center at Halifax Community College helps provides entrepreneurs with start-up services and tools similar to VentureAsheboro and helps connect them with capital-providing partners like Thread Capital. Thread Capital, located in Raleigh, provides small businesses with loans that have more flexible terms than traditional loans. The group places special emphasis on loans serving rural, low-income, female, and minority borrowers.
Many rural communities in North Carolina are focused on diversifying their economy through the creation, promotion, and expansion of small businesses. This not only creates a strong economy but it allows community members to pursue things they are passionate about and often leads to unique businesses in small towns that help drive tourism.