University Economic Development Association

Advancing Equitable Entrepreneurship with Fayetteville State University

The Economic Development Administration University Center (EDAUC) at Fayetteville State University (FSU) serves as the lead entity in the institution’s recently launched Fayetteville-Cumberland Regional Entrepreneur and Business HUB (HUB). Mixed with retail and office spaces, and across from the FSU campus, students from FSU’s entrepreneurship programs and local community entrepreneurs alike utilize the HUB as a collaboration space for resources and accelerator services. The HUB, directed by Dr. Tamara Bryant, is a stand-alone, accessible space, housing entrepreneurial support activities previously located separately on campus and in Fayetteville. Key collaborators include SBA-supported Small Business and Technology Development and Veterans’ Business Outreach Centers and the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development (SBA microlender and Women’s Business Center), the UNC Chapel Hill CREATE/NC Growth Initiative, and the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic development Corp. The primary focus is on promoting entrepreneurship in a ten-county region where the level of economic prosperity has been significantly lower than state and national averages.

With broad community buy-in and support, the HUB has received $2 million in funding–provided by the legislature of the state of North Carolina, the Board of County Commissioners of Cumberland County, the City of Fayetteville, Golden Leaf Foundation, and Fayetteville State University. Unique among endeavors such as this, the HUB will also play a key role in recruiting and preparing underrepresented construction-related contractors to help achieve highly diverse participation in over $440 million of new projects recently approved by the North Carolina legislature for Cumberland County—with $175 million of projects approved for Fayetteville State University alone. With a recent $150,000 grant from NC IDEA and its NC Black Entrepreneurship Council, FSU’s EDUAC continues to expand its ability to serve future entrepreneurs through its support from its ecosystem partners. We spoke with Professor of Entrepreneurship and EDAUC Coordinator, Dr. Caroline Glackin, to gain deeper insights into HUB activities and opportunities with NC IDEA’s grant.

The new HUB plays an essential role in providing opportunities to its diverse participants, as the EDAUC has a high service population of minorities, veterans (due to its proximity to Ft. Bragg), and individuals from economically distressed communities.

Among the HUB services are its Readiness Assessment Tool, trainings/workshops, speaker series, counseling, and certifications. The HUB prepares students through personalized, adaptive learning to support innovative success. As the HUB and campus-based Entrepreneurship Lab serve as bridges between academia and the community through equitable entrepreneurship, NC IDEA sought to promote FSU’s entrepreneurship activities and awarded the grant to expand service capacity. Dr. Glackin reported that a next step with NC IDEA’s grant includes creating a series of one-credit, online adaptive learning courses for student and community members that can provide vital skills and knowledge and lead to entrepreneurship certification. Future collaboration between over 100 potential ecosystem partners was also explored, as it would then develop the expertise offered by the HUB’s courses.

The HUB is elevated by the EDAUC and continues to brighten the future of entrepreneurs, as Dr. Glackin describes it aims to “deliver essential learning in a very accessible way.” Her passion for equitable entrepreneurship development is one of many expressed by EDA University Centers throughout the program.

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