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

DURHAM – A week ago our Nation celebrated the inauguration of a new administration. This quadrennial practice is an opportunity for our country to affirm our national values and priorities. From inaugural speakers to the evening’s festivities and performances, many share this day of optimism and reflect hopefully on the future. So naturally, for me, it is a very entrepreneurial moment.

Perhaps the most radiant expression of an entrepreneurial mindset came from National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, who offered a magnum opus of hope and healing. With so many quote worthy excerpts, through the lens of entrepreneurship, one of my favorites was: “So, while once we asked: How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe? Now we assert, How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

I believe she meant those words in the context of civil strife, but setbacks and adversity are also unavoidable for those that brave the unknowns of starting and growing new firms. Yet many prevail, thus not allowing ‘catastrophe to prevail’ over them. And many more are endeavoring to follow this bold pursuit as 2020 concluded with a record number of new high propensity firms taking their first wobbly steps.

Thus, we have a BIG question for 2021; namely, how will we support the many brave new members of the entrepreneurial collective? We can, as many states will, do nothing. Or we can increase our efforts to engage and support our entrepreneur communities so that they may create the many jobs and taxes we need to support strong communities and quality of life.

NC IDEA and our many partners are doing exactly that. We are rising to the moment and daring to be optimistic, whilst rolling up our sleeves. Beyond inspiration, we are investing perspiration to find not only new ways to engage but new communities with which to engage.

Entrepreneurship is a great equalizer. It can help many overcome adversity and provide economic stability we all want. But it doesn’t come without effort. As we collectively rise to address the opportunity of thousands of our fellow citizens starting new companies, let us equally commit to do so with diversity and equity firmly guiding our actions.

In so doing, we can do our part, as Miss Gorman said, “to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.”

(C) NC IDEA Foundation