Editor’s note: Greensboro has a long history of supporting startup businesses and entrepreneurs. As 2017, progress continues to be made, but there are challenges, executives tell WRAL TechWire’s Jason Parker. This is the second of the “State of Startup” series that is examining in detail the entrepreneurial ecosystem across North Carolina

GREENSBORO – The current state of the startup economy in the Triad is ‘it’s okay – we’re getting there’,” says Sara Pilling, director of operations for HQ Greensboro. According to Pilling, while progress has been made, there is a lot more that has to be done to make the Triad more competitive.

But in Greensboro, there are a variety of challenges to be overcome.

There are additional community hubs in Greensboro, and these organizations play a critical role in helping provide opportunities for community-building amongst the entrepreneurial community.

The Nussbaum Center was founded in 1986 to attract, advise, train, house, and graduate start-up and early stage entrepreneurial businesses. It’s an organization that emerged to play an important role for a shifting economy in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The organization is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, and their primary business is acquiring, retaining, and utilizing resources efficiently so that the organization can work toward its mission, says president and CEO Sam Funchess.

State of Startups: The Series

  • Part One: An overview of the Triad ecosystem
  • Series Summary: What WRAL TechWire is reporting

“We have a robust ecosystem,” says Funchess, yet there is still a lack of cohesion overall and potential for “startup fatigue” in Greensboro. According to Funchess, the community is at risk of fatigue due to a lack of filtering entrepreneurs enough. “People want to help,” he adds “but they can’t waste their time on entrepreneurs who aren’t ready, vetted, skilled, or even have a chance.”

Greensboro’s innovation and entrepreneurial market is not yet oversaturated, says Pilling, and there are still many vacancies in coworking spaces.

While the Nussbaum Center houses entrepreneurs in offices and is currently at 88% capacity, it does not offer a coworking option.

HQ Greensboro and Launch Greensboro both offer coworking options, as do new coworking spaces at Revolution Mill, Space Logix and CoCreate Studio.

Prices and services vary by location, including daily access rates and leases for office space.

Yet coworking spaces are not necessarily “build it and they’ll come” places, says Pilling.

“A lot of great progress has been made,” says Pilling, “but a lot more has to be done to really make the Triad more competitive.” One compelling option to enhance the startup economy is to add additional financial support or incentives for startups to relocate or to stay in Greensboro, says Pilling.

Greensboro may even be losing some of their entrepreneurs and startup companies to their neighbor to the west. “Winston-Salem is probably the location with the highest startup density in the Triad,” says Pilling, adding that this is in part because Greensboro’s efforts seem less coordinated, cohesive, and collaborative in comparison.

Coming in Part Three: A report on all the buzz in Winston-Salem.

“As a city, we’re transforming ourselves,” says Karen Barnes, executive director of Venture Café, one of Winston-Salem’s hottest new success stories. “We’ve shown remarkable resilience and grit in reshaping our future.”