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Darts & laurels: IDEA whose time has come

Laurels to the Rowan IDEA Center, an initiative soon to take shape in West End Plaza. The center is designed to act as a much-needed local catalyst for entrepreneurship, the biggest potential driver for economic growth.

Rowan County and the Chamber of Commerce are working with a company called e2a advisors on this program. Catawba, Livingstone and Rowan-Cabarrus Community colleges are also on board, as are several business leaders.

The concept is to create a hub where aspiring entrepreneurs have access to education, financial resources and physical resources to get their ideas into action. As humorist and businessman Arnold Glasow once said, “Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied.”   

Think of the legacy that entrepreneurs have already created in Salisbury, from Cheerwine to Food Lion. Every successful enterprise starts with the seed of an idea and grows into a healthy operation. Meanwhile, there can be strength in spurring small business growth. Small businesses have generated over 65 percent of net new jobs since 1995, according to Forbes.

Centers of excellence like this IDEA Center go beyond the business-incubator model by offering a broader array of services and working to directly stimulate growth. Similar efforts include Packard Place in Charlotte, The Hub @ Davidson, the Durham Innovation District and the N.C. Research Campus.

County commissioners have clearly stated their determination to create a positive atmosphere for economic growth, job creation and improved quality of life — themes that run through just about every conversation people here have about the future. The IDEA Center turns that talk into action. Go, RoCo, go.

While we’re at it, laurels to renaming our local economic development agency “Rowan EDC” — a name that makes it more readily recognized as one of the many economic development commissions across the country.

While “RowanWorks” sounded new and can-do, the name created confusion. The state dubbed its job search website NC Works, with the subtitle, “Connencting Talent to Jobs.” So people sometimes thought RowanWorks was a place to find a job. That was close; RowanWorks focuses on recruiting and retaining industries to provide more jobs.

“We were looking for something that was simple but also spoke to who we are as an organization,” CEO Rod Crider said. Mission accomplished.

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