Bringing vitality back into the economy
North Carolina Central University has a wealth of programs and initiatives to assist students, alumni, and community members in bringing their ideas to the global marketplace.
Entrepreneurs are increasingly driving economic activity across the country, and Durham is a great place to make it happen - ranked as America's sixth-best large city in which to start a business by personal finance website WalletHub. The U.S. economy saw entrepreneurial businesses grow by 15 percent between 2014 and 2016, according to the Kauffman Foundation.
Millennials, defined as individuals born between 1981 and 1997, are considered the most entrepreneurial generation yet. Research firm Millennial Branding reports that 72 percent of high school students, and 64 percent of college undergraduates dream of one day starting their own business.
Tarryn Henry, a 2015 School of Business graduate and owner of Tarryn Henry Enterprises (T.H.E.) Concierge Co., a consulting firm that assists organizations with diversity and inclusion credits an NCCU professor's support outside the classroom with opening the door to her initial success as an entrepreneur.
"Being at American Underground and working with entrepreneurs in the community has led to many business-consulting opportunities."
“During my undergraduate career, I spent a lot of time at NCCU’s Entrepreneur Lab at American Underground,” Henry said, referring to the co-working space and business incubator in downtown Durham. “Being at American Underground and working with entrepreneurs in the community has led to many business-consulting opportunities.”
For post-Millennials, also known as Generation Z, NCCU’s Summer Youth Business and Entrepreneurship Academy has proven to be successful place to exercise some entrepreneurial muscles.
The Business and Entrepreneurship Academy was created in 2013 through a $350,000 grant to the school of Business from the Executive Leadership Foundation, a nonprofit founded by current and former African-American board directors and business leaders at Fortune 500.
The foundation’s Community Impact Initiative was designed to enhance entrepreneurial education and develop the next generation of entrepreneurs, business leaders and scholars. The two-week business and entrepreneurship immersion gives 40 high-achieving high school sophomores and juniors from across the country a chance to strengthen their executive business knowledge and skills.
University students attending NCCU’s School of Business also gain the advantage of specialized course offerings and experiential learning, including a business entrepreneurship concentration. In addition to the course offerings, special initiatives and programs such as the School of Business Lecture Series featuring leading business professionals and entrepreneurs have enhanced interest in entrepreneurship.
The Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) at NCCU is another resource not only for students but also for community members who are interested in growing and developing their business. The SBTDC, a business advisory service of the University of North Carolina System, has 16 regional offices across North Carolina, each supported by a local state university and staffed by specially trained professionals with prior business ownership or executive experience.
In partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the SBTDC enhances North Carolina’s economic development infrastructure by assisting small business owners and business-minded students with a wide range of one-on-one business counseling services. NCCU’s Small Business and Technology Development Center is housed at American Underground, the co-working office space that helps startup businesses perform their day-to-day operations, while creating a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.
School of Business alumnus Whitney Rich, owner of Success Realty, said he has benefited tremendously from the SBTDC’s services. Rich credits the input of La-Tasha Best-Gaddy, SBTDC program specialist, for much of his success.
"Ms. Best-Gaddy is a great asset for small businesses,” Rich said. “She knows what resources to offer to drive business and also provides valuable tools for success."
“Ms. Best-Gaddy is a great asset for small businesses,” Rich said. “She knows what resources to offer to drive business and also provides valuable tools for success.”
Rich began his real estate career selling homes, leading to establishment of his own business with a partner. Rich also plans to add private development to his business portfolio.
Students also have the opportunity to work directly with an SBTDC client company in a paid summer internship program assisting local small- or medium-sized business in Durham, Orange, Lee, Alamance, or Chatham counties.
Shakira Coats, a senior business administration major, said she also has gained an advantage by volunteering working with STDC’s clients. Coats applied her knowledge of social media for business marketing throughout the summer as an intern with Success Realty.
“My internship helped me expand my network and gain more knowledge of how to successfully operate not only a real estate firm but also a business,” said Coats.