As we wrap up 2019 (midway through NCIDEA’s fiscal year) I wanted to share a few priorities we will be focusing on in 2020.

Top of mind is our planning (already) for next year’s statewide Ecosystem Summit. Our inaugural event was, judging by post-event survey responses, well received. The recurring themes in feedback included: value of learning about initiatives and resources available in the state and, meeting other people that are also working hard to make North Carolina entrepreneurially strong.

WRAL TechWire photo

Thom Ruhe (WRAL TechWire photo by Rick Smith)

See a highlight reel of the photos taken over the two days. Whereas much needs to be figured out for next year’s Summit, you may want to block off your calendar from November 15-18, 2020.

Speaking of the Summit, you can watch my opening remarks which were meant to address WHY we should strengthen the statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem. We will soon publish my closing remarks which are intended to address HOW we are going to do this; #Ecosysteming. If you follow my Twitter feed (@thomruhe), you will see when we post other videos of the great speakers from the Summit.

In other exciting news, after three cycles as a pilot grant program, this Spring we will once again run the MICRO grant ($10K) program and SEED grant ($50K) concurrently; having concluded that the MICRO grant program is achieving our goals of reaching more people in underserved communities at earlier, more vulnerable, stages of growth. In so doing, we hope to increase the odds of more ideas from broader communities getting to the point of viability and connection to a growing ecosystem ready, willing, and able to help them thrive.

These and the many other programs from our terrific ecosystem, education and community engagement partners give me great optimism for next year. And I think that optimism will be much needed in a year that will likely strain our collective patience, attention span and civility.

Empowering people through entrepreneurship is nonpartisan. When properly applied, it is a great equalizer allowing anyone the opportunity to work toward economic independence, something upon which all can agree. Let us work together to unite through entrepreneurship and serve as a national exemplar for others.

On behalf of the staff and board of NC IDEA, we wish you all a peaceful holiday season with family and friends, and a prosperous new year.