In the wake of UNCW’s Information Technology Conference and the release of the Garner Report, the question of how to spur economic development in the Cape Fear Region persists. Should leaders be luring outside businesses, developing local industries, or encouraging start-up activity? In answer to this, UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or CIE, is training local entrepreneurs to identify area business owners’ needs, develop solutions accordingly—and take these ideas to broader, out-of-state markets.
The CIE exists to help entrepreneurs learn to respond to the actual market. This is according to director Jim Roberts, who says that when start-up businesses focus on developing solutions for established corporations that can pay their bills—rather than presenting niche ideas--there’s a much better chance those same solutions could benefit broader markets. And this, Roberts adds, translates to more government funding, investment capital, clients and revenue.
"If you have a pain—if you have a headache—you will actually take the time right then and there, to go to the grocery store and pay for the aspirin to make that headache go away. But if you needed a vitamin—you weren’t feeling ten percent as well as normal—you might want a vitamin, but you probably wouldn’t have the urgency to go to the grocery store right then and pay for it. You’d probably wait until you needed your next gallon of milk."
Roberts has thus coined an upcoming CIE breakfast the “aspirin event.” Thursday morning, leaders from the region’s five largest employers—PPD, General Electric, Castle Branch, the North Carolina Military Business Center, and UNCW—will reveal their most pressing needs. North Carolina Treasurer Janet Cowell will also be on hand, to provide opening remarks.
***For more information on registering for the CIE breakfast, click here.