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NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall hosts business roundtable at UNCP Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub

By Stephanie Meador, posted Apr 10, 2024 on

Local small business owners gathered at the UNC Pembroke Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub on Tuesday, April 9, for a business roundtable event with NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall - Photo by GFBJ

NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall came to Pembroke on Tuesday, April 9, to host a business roundtable event to hear firsthand about the problems local businesses are facing and to brainstorm ways in which to help them and future area entrepreneurs. 

At the end of 2021, Marshall’s office started Rural RISE NC, an initiative to help small businesses and local businesses across the state. The program currently serves 72 counties including Robeson, Moore and Hoke. 

“Federal and state governments, as well as the nonprofit community, have been offering help for a long time, but there's a significant gap of people knowing about it,” explained Secretary Marshall.

Rural RISE NC is meant to assist in attracting people to and keeping people in rural areas by bolstering homegrown entrepreneurship. 

“We ended 2023 with the second highest number of new business creations on record for that year with 172,000…and right now for the first three months of 2024 we're on pace to match that,” shared Secretary Marshall.

Local elected officials were present for the business roundtable as well so that following the remarks to the business owners they might offer input as to how they could work with the business owners to achieve solutions. 

Among the participants at the roundtable were restaurateurs, caterers, farmers, teachers and more. Each took time to share their story and reflect on some of the challenges they were working to overcome such as financial constraints, finding qualified workers and navigating regulatory requirements.

“Our goal was to do everything to extend the life of these new businesses for months and years. It is crucial for our economy as a whole. After all, it doesn't help anyone when a business fails,” remarked Secretary Marshall. 

By facilitating this open discussion about the challenges associated with entrepreneurship, Marshall hopes to encourage more local partnerships and group efforts towards seeing these small businesses thrive. 

Interested individuals can learn more about Rural RISE NC by going online to

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