WILMINGTON—UNC Wilmington has embarked on a journey to create a sustainable business ecosystem in Southeastern North Carolina similar to that at Research Triangle Park.
Thursday, the university brought together consultants and community leaders to discuss this new endeavor. It was a homecoming for local business owner Justin Queen.
The 2004 graduate started two digital marketing agencies that now employ eight to ten people.
"It's takes a lot of mentorship and a lot of guidance to be able to cross the valley of hard times that you hit when you start a new company," said Queen.
Queen said that is why he is proud to be a part of UNCW's push to improve the Entrepreneurship Center and create a business ecosystem. Thursday, the university shared their goal with around 80 business, government, and community leaders.
"We have the education part and we have the part where we want to be part of the economic development activities in this region," said Chancellor Gary Miller.
In order to get a start on the project, UNCW reached out to the founder of Bootstrap Austin Bijoy Goswami. He shared his perspective on how to build a strong business environment by looking at it as journey that starts at the community's roots.
"A lot of the times we kind of tend to look outside, 'What are the other places doing.' That's a very valuable thing but there are certain things that can't deliver. So when you try to look inward then you actually discover new ways of doing things and you find your way of doing things which is more powerful and more sustainable," said Goswami.
The university also partnered with company to create an asset map. It's a one stop resource shop for business people.
"It tells us what sort of assets we have in various categories for entrepreneurs and businesses to use to develop, grow, to get started, " said Miller.
Queen said the university got the conversation started, now he's ready to help make the ecosystem a reality.
"You feel sort of indebted to the mentorship that you were given early on to help other people," said Queen.
Recently, UNCW brought a new building to house the Entrepreneurship Center. Their goal is to make it self-sustaining.