PEMBROKE — The Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke hopes to bring 30 new jobs to the region over three years following a substantial gift from the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
The Hub, formerly the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship, has been awarded $198,000 to hire a sustainability coordinator who will team with the Entrepreneurship Incubator staff to launch small businesses and create stronger ties between economic development and health improvement efforts. The Entrepreneurship Incubator, located inside the Hub, supports business growth across a 10-county region.
The grant will be spread over three years.
“We’re grateful to receive this grant and believe it will dramatically improve the support we give to leading edge health care startups and technologies and how fast we can get them contributing to the community,” said Thomas Hall, Hub executive director.
The sustainability coordinator will be responsible for finding and evaluating high potential technologies, developing and presenting proposals, and building and managing strategic relationships globally.
The goal is to attract jobs in the home health care and agribusiness sectors. Addressing poverty as an underlying driver of poor health is a key aim of this project.
“Economic opportunity, health and education are intertwined issues that our founder, Kate B. Reynolds, focused on during her lifetime. We work to interpret her vision today, and we know there are a lack of economic opportunities for many Robeson County residents,” said Laura Gerald, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
“Community members identified job creation as the greatest barrier to health improvement in Robeson County in a recent community health needs assessment,” Gerald said.
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings said UNCP is grateful for the investment by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.
“Dr. Gerald appreciates the needs of our region, and as a physician and former State Health director like myself, she understands the clear linkages between economic conditions and health outcomes,” Cummings said.
Hall said there is a significant upside in job creation, economic mobility and health by finding and commercializing technologies at the intersection of agriculture, nutrition and health.
“While the Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub and others have made strides supporting and nurturing small businesses and startups, we feel the situation will be significantly improved with a focused effort to bring in technologies that will drive faster and larger job growth, leading to improved economic mobility, health and wellness,” Hall said.
Since opening its doors in downtown Pembroke in January 2016, the Hub has been helping residents start businesses. It also links with larger health improvement efforts in the county to connect these initiatives to economic development.