Editor’s note: Thom Ruhe is CEO of the NC IDEA Foundation, a group focusing on economic development across North Carolina.

DURHAM – Last year the bipartisan public policy organization EIG (Economic Innovation Group) published some noteworthy research focusing on geographic economic inequality and the precipitous decline in entrepreneurship; respectively, the Distressed Communities Index (DCI) and Dynamism in Retreat reports.

The recent steep decline in business dynamism is alarming.

Whereas the annual rate of business closures has remained fairly steady over that last several decades, the average number of new businesses starting each year has plummeted; falling by half since the late 1970s, and at an accelerated rate more recently. Other reports also show steep declines in several categories of entrepreneurship within North Carolina. Across the board, EIG reported, “from small mom and pop storefronts to high tech startups, new businesses are simply scarcer than ever.”

The 2017 DCI report finds that 17% of the U.S. population (52.3 million Americans) live in economically distressed communities. More alarming, in the state of North Carolina, 24.9% of our population is living in an economically distressed community. For those living in one of the more economically vibrant metro areas, some may be (blissfully) unaware to the fact that 1 in 4 fellow citizens lives with significant economic insecurity.

Considering these trends together, the proverbial canary in the coal mine isn’t looking so good; all of which begging the question, what should we do about this?

Fortuitously, the Foundation is currently working to reimagine our purpose; namely, a vision and mission for the foundation that may guide our priorities and programs. And we would appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

We created a brief survey, only four questions. Please take a moment to reflect on the information shared above, tempered by your own experience, and let us know what you think. 

If you are survey-phobic but still want to share thoughts, recommendations and/or links to other research we should be reading, please feel free to email me at truhe@ncidea.org. Also, please consider spamming your friends, like-minded or otherwise, with the link for the survey.