The Blog

Libraries face a significant challenge at the start of the 21st century. Many residents still primarily conceive of the library as a place to check out books and other materials, or perhaps to use a public access computer or wifi to complete a quick online task. While we certainly do continue to provide these services, the library offers so much more. It is also a community center where visitors can create strong connections to their fellow residents, and it is a gateway to learning and knowledge where users receive access to a wide array of powerful informational resources. The Library is excited to announce that it has been chosen to participate in a pilot program that will take advantage of these aspects of the Library to encourage local entrepreneurship and economic activity.

NC IDEA is a private foundation with a mission to maximize the economic potential of the people of North Carolina by supporting the formation and fruition of high-growth entrepreneurial endeavors in the state. Their goal is to provide 100,000 North Carolinians with the training necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. As NC IDEA puts it “We know that most of those who are trained will not start a company, but our purpose is to bring the power of entrepreneurial thinking to everyone. Entrepreneurial thinkers solve complex social, political and economic problems; improve existing products; invent new products; advance our understanding of the world and improve the overall quality of our lives.”

This foundation had already begun the process of “training the trainer” at various community colleges, universities, middle and high schools, and small business centers around the state when its staff realized that Libraries offer a perfect opportunity for reaching the entire community. NC IDEA formed a partnership with EBSCO, a leading library vendor, to create a pilot program that will investigate the effectiveness of using libraries as a way to provide this training to the public.

The Neuse Regional Library System applied to join the program and was one of 22 libraries selected across the state to participate. Through the program, NC IDEA will provide training to the library’s staff in assisting local residents with learning more about starting a new business, pursuing the funding necessary to start a new small business venture, and other tasks that are essential to the entrepreneurial process. This fall, the Library will offer entrepreneurial “boot camps” to the public that will give them an introduction to these topics and provide them with access to resources they can use to continue their journey towards starting a small business. Staff will also be trained to provide one-on-one assistance to library users who want to learn more about becoming an entrepreneur. Related programs such as book discussions, lectures, and other events based on local needs will increase the exposure of attendees to the business resources available to them through the Library.

We are extremely excited to have this opportunity to improve upon what we can offer to the local small business community. The library already plays a major role in the local economy by serving as a place where anyone can freely pursue continuing education or search for a new job opportunity, and now this program will help us expand to providing the same type of structural assistance to those who want to start a new business. For more information about the NC IDEA program or library programming, please call 252-527-7066, Ext. 134.