(Fletcher, N.C. – Sept. 20, 2013): The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has announced that AdvantageWest, the nonprofit regional economic development organization serving the 23 counties of Western North Carolina, will receive a $100,000 grant to promote small business growth in rural communities. The grant money will be used to expand participation in the Certified Entrepreneurial Community® program, an initiative created and launched by AdvantageWest in 2007 that promotes small business and job growth by fostering an entrepreneurial culture with improved access to resources.
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan applauded the EDA for awarding the grant. “Small businesses are the engine of our economy and the key to lowering unemployment in North Carolina’s rural communities,” said Hagan, adding that the funding will promote economic development and help entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running.
The CEC program, which aims to ensure the success of entrepreneurs with policies, resources and a general business climate conducive to startups, has attracted the attention of communities and economic developers across the country.
“The interest in our Certified Entrepreneurial Communities program has been overwhelmingly positive, both within our region and outside of it,” said Scott Hamilton, AdvantageWest president and CEO. “We’re honored and excited that the EDA has recognized the value of our program as a strategy for economic development in rural areas, and is offering this support for its continued development.”
AdvantageWest has certified 10 communities in Western North Carolina as “entrepreneur-ready.” Currently six additional communities are in the process of working through the rigorous five-step program.
In addition to entrepreneurial development, AdvantageWest’s program of work also focuses on advanced manufacturing, the film industry, the green-tech and clean-energy economy, and agribusiness. For more information, visit www.advantagewest.com or call (828) 687-7234. AdvantageWest is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AdvantageWest and can be followed on Twitter at @AdvantageWest.