Rowan IDEA Center is big idea of second Power in Partnership breakfast

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

SALISBURY — Entrepreneurship does more to stimulate economic development than anything else, Mickey Goodman of e2Advisors said Thursday.

“And that, in a nutshell, is why it’s important,” Goodman said.

Goodman and his e2Advisors partner, Wes Bray, are working with Rowan County and the Rowan Economic Development Commissionto create the Rowan IDEA Center at the county-owned West End Plaza.

Goodman and Bray were the featured speakers at the second Power in Partnership breakfast of the 2017-18 season, held Thursday morning at Trinity Oaks.

The IDEA Center is intended to be a hub where budding entrepreneurs of any age can come for education, financial and physical resources to get their ideas off the ground.

“And one of the things to keep in mind, this is going on all around us,” Goodman said. “So if we’re not also doing this, our chance to attract and grow ventures and small businesses here is going to be hampered by competition.”

Goodman said innovation and entrepreneurship hubs are already in place in a number of nearby cities, including Charlotte and Davidson.

He said Rowan County residents may think there are no entrepreneurs among them, but that usually isn’t the case.

“Just to give you one example, Wes and I did some work in our hometown of Hilton Head and said, ‘Let’s do a big idea contest, (a) ‘Shark Tank’ contest,’ and people were going, ‘There’s nobody here with ideas. Maybe we’ll get 10 people to enter this contest.’ We got 91 people in the Hilton Head area to come forward with their business ideas,” Goodman said. “And we see that everywhere. There’s way more entrepreneurs and business ideas than you might think.”

Goodman said that beyond stimulating job growth and economic development, entrepreneurship training can be an important resource for students.

“Entrepreneurial education and the skills that kids learn, even if they don’t ever start a business, are unbelievable life and business skills. So the enrichment and the enhancement beyond how many new businesses start can be fantastic,” Goodman said.

Bray presented preliminary plans for what the IDEA Center might look like, though he said the exact specifications will likely change.

He said the center will have a number of components, including a venture lab, a co-working center, a digital media production center, a prototype factory and a cafe.

Bray said that while the training in the venture lab will incur costs, the co-working center, digital media production center, prototype factory and cafe will produce revenue.

Eventually, they want to install a Carolina Museum of Innovation in one of the center’s spaces, Bray said.

“As it turns out, North Carolina and South Carolina have a long history of innovation — a tremendous history of innovation and entrepreneurship. And so, if we have the space, why don’t we recognize that? And it’s such a great fit with the other entrepreneurial activities that are going on,” Bray said.

Goodman said that, as of now, they expect the IDEA Center will open in April 2019.

“But any of you who have ever been involved in project management over the long term know the only thing I can tell you for certain about this timetable is that it will change,” Goodman said.

Goodman said they were hoping to offer entrepreneurial workshops as early as January.

 Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.