Editor’s note: Thom Ruhe is CEO of the NC IDEA Foundation.

DURHAM – It is great to live in vibrant communities with a thriving economy and a robust startup ecosystem. We know from research that thriving economies and robust entrepreneurial ecosystems are usually interconnected and entrepreneurial activity is essential to creating vibrant, equitable and sustainable communities.

Which begs the question, who is going to do the things necessary to turn that aspiration into reality? More specifically, what are the programs, activities, community assets, organizations, policies and best practices for empowering more people to realize their full entrepreneurial potential?

We are going to try to figure out the who, what, where and how of building local, regional and statewide entrepreneurial ecosystems that engage more people, leverage more resources and create more economic opportunity and growth in North Carolina; at our inaugural statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem Summit this Fall.

In conjunction with the Governor’s Entrepreneurial Council (GEC) and coinciding with the Kauffman Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, we are hosting the Summit November 18-19, to demonstrate that best economic development practices are led by entrepreneurship.

If your passion includes making North Carolina the best state in the country to start and grow great businesses, you might want to check out the Summit and see who is doing what and if there is a place or opportunity for your organization to participate … helping us answer the question, who is going to do that?


The Ecosystem Summit is the only statewide conference of its kind that brings together the people and organizations who support entrepreneurs.

  • Entrepreneurial Support Organizations
  • Economic Development Organizations
  • University and Community College Entrepreneur Programs
  • SBTDCs, SBCs and CDFIs
  • State and Local Government Officials
  • Connect with practitioners from around the state who help entrepreneurs and lead programming that supports economic development
  • Gain information and best practices, particularly for those who are just beginning to incorporate startups as an economic development tool in their localeShare successes and solutions
  • Share problems and issues
  • Become more informed of the statewide entrepreneurial community and the current state of entrepreneurial development climate in North Carolina
  • Learn more about those regions of the state that are outside the traditional entrepreneurial hubs like Research Triangle
  • Celebrate and showcase our State’s successes to date
  • How Does North Carolina’s Entrepreneurial Climate Stack Up?
  • Impacts of State Policy on Startup Activity
  • Activating Entrepreneurship
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Building Entrepreneurship in Rural Communities
  • Interesting Sectors of North Carolina’s Startup Ecosystem
  • Building a Tech Company Outside of Research Triangle
  • Philanthropy & Entrepreneurial Economic Development