The Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s (CED) fundraising campaign is on track to meet the financial goal of $3 million, says Monica Doss, CED president.

Started last October, the CED is seeking local, regional and statewide contributions to support a five-year strategic plan focused on economic growth and entrepreneurship in the state. Roughly 80 percent of the dollars or $2.5 million has already been pledged mostly from those supporting the life science industry in North Carolina – law firms, banks, venture capital firms and other service providers, Doss says.

The “Innovation to Impact” campaign, which runs until May, is nearing its goals despite the economic slump that has hit North Carolina and its high-tech sector especially hard.

“In this market, we are thrilled to have received these long-term commitments, particularly those at the $150,000 and $100,000 levels, to the campaign,” says Doss. “These commitments speak volumes to the dedication of these companies and firms to North Carolina entrepreneurism.”

The largest pledge of $150,000 was announced Wednesday from Alston & Bird LLP, a law firm with offices in Raleigh and Charlotte whose practice revolves around the bioscience and technology sectors. The pledge compliments nine other law firms who have each contributed $100,000.

“We cannot let the ups and downs in the economy deter us from investing in the programs that the CED has determined to be the instruments for growth in the next five years,” says Brad Markoff, Alston and Bird’s managing partner in the Raleigh office. “We feel fortunate to be able to contribute to the CED’s efforts for entrepreneurial success in the region.”

The CED says that significant research through focus groups, interviews and a satisfaction survey was conducted to determine the needs of the entrepreneurial community over the next five years.

The earmarked funds will be used to enhance CED’s current set of education, training, and mentoring programs in addition to the new programs. Three main areas were identified as focus areas from the research: executive management and leadership development, community outreach among underrepresented groups and public affairs involvement to promote an entrepreneurial environment.

Those contributing at the $100,000 level to date include: Bank of America; Comerica Incorporated; Daniels & Daniels, P.A; Ernst & Young, LLP; Gray Ventures, Inc.; Hutchison & Mason PLLC; Intersouth Partners; Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman, L.L.P.; Kilpatrick Stockton LLP; Maupin Taylor & Ellis, P.A.; RBC Centura; Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, LLP; Smith Helms Mulliss & Moore, L.L.P.; Southeast Interactive Technology Funds; US Trust; Wachovia; Wakefield Group L.P.; Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC; and Wyrick Robbins Yates & Ponton LLP.