FUNDING ENTREPRENEURS: ECU receives $1M grant for rural innovation, student businesses

East Carolina University received a $1 million award from the Golden LEAF Foundation to support rural economic prosperity through innovation and entrepreneurship.

The grant, awarded on Feb. 7, will support ECU’s recently launched university-wide program focused on creating a new generation of business owners in the 29 counties of eastern North Carolina, reflective of its name RISE-29.

The Golden LEAF grant supports and strengthens partnerships between ECU and the counties of Beaufort, Hyde, Martin and Pitt. The partners will create a pipeline for ECU graduates to establish new businesses in towns throughout the region, which has been hit hard by the loss of manufacturing and supporting industry.

Additionally, many students who graduate through the RISE-29 program will team with small businesses in the region looking for succession and continuity plans as the small business owners prepare for retirement. County partners and regional mentors will provide students with in-depth knowledge about the communities housing these young microenterprises, helping them integrate with the community. RISE-29 will provide regional employment opportunities to graduating students, helping to reverse negative population trends in eastern North Carolina.

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Originally published Feb. 19, 2019.

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