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

DURHAM – We kicked off Global Entrepreneurship Week with our 2nd annual Statewide Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Summit. Several hundred folks registered to hear from state and national thought leaders about the economic impact of supporting people that start and grow companies. This work can inspire others to explore their potential as an entrepreneur and is also an opportunity to educate the public of the economic benefits of supporting people’s entrepreneurial aspirations.

The Summit was a combination of great speakers, insightful panels and videos we produced in advance. As nice as it was to bring a bunch of folks (virtually) together for this much needed respite, we wanted mostly to convey that COVID will not diminish our resolve to promote and support entrepreneurship in North Carolina; especially when it comes to our efforts to support rural and Black entrepreneurship.

Coverage of NC IDEA event from WRAL TechWire

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‘Entrepreneurs will lead the recovery from challenging times,’ says NC IDEA’s top exec at Summit

Triangle startups land 6 of 7 $50,000 NC IDEA grants

To drive that point home, we concluded the Summit with a first ever LIVE announcement of our Fall $50,000 SEED grant recipients. With the help of our great fellows and core reviewers, we selected seven companies that remind us of all of the hope and promise that new companies provide society. And in case you need just a little more hope going into Thanksgiving, please check out our closing video from the Summit.

I want to express my appreciation for the many people that help us help others realize their entrepreneurial potential. As the Summit showcased, pandemics and divisive elections did not deter from our work, and we look forward to accelerating our efforts once we have successfully navigated past these challenges and distractions. Let us all be mindful going into the holiday season that we are stronger when united, and can agree that economically empowering people through entrepreneurship is in everyone’s best interest.