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Incubator to Create Jobs in Community

Incubator to Create Job in Community

By Sara Owen, Managing EditorPhoto by Sara Owen

The Entrepreneurship Incubator, a project in the works since 2011, broke ground on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m. in a  ceremony downtown at 202 Main St., Pembroke.

According to Dr. Cammie Hunt, associate vice chancellor for engaged outreach, one of the goals of the project is to bridge the gap between the town of Pembroke and UNCP.

Dr. Hunt said she hopes to see improvement in the town’s economy as well.

The incubator became a topic of discussion when Dr. Hunt was still the Dean of the School of Business. She said it was in  2010 when it began being considered.

“Downtown was in a state of deterioration,” Dr. Hunt said.

It was decided early on that the incubator would be downtown and would help create jobs in Pembroke. It would also help small businesses stay in business.

Dr. Hunt said the incubator will be able to house eight to 12 businesses, including the Thomas Family Center and consultant’s offices.

Dr. Carmen Calabrese, executive director of the Thomas Family Center, said the incubator will allow for economic growth, economic wealth and jobs.

Dr. Calabrese said it is meant to “enhance the quality of life for our community.”

Provost Ken Kitts said the incubator will “distinguish us from other universities.”

The incubator will be used as a learning lab for UNCP business majors. They will gain real world experience.

Dr. Hunt said the benefit to small businesses is that the rent will be cheaper than if they rented or leased their own store front.

There will also be shared conference rooms and consultants working in the incubator who can help them.

She said it is called an incubator because it can help a new business grow “like a baby” that was born prematurely and cannot yet survive on its own without being in an incubator.

“That incubator helps them grow till they are able to survive on their own without that assistance,” Dr. Hunt said. 

In April 2012, Golden Leaf awarded UNCP $200,000 to go towards the incubator.

According to Dr. Hunt, one of the requirements of the Golden Leaf grant is that “new jobs” be created.

UNCP also applied for an EDA grant and was approved in August 2013.The award was for $932,000. A month later the building to be used for the incubator was purchased.

According to Dr. Hunt, private donors were also asked to help fund the project. They were asked to invest $200,000. A dinner was held for prospective donors in January 2012.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, hardhats and shovels were provided for the traditional shoveling of dirt, which is symbolic of breaking ground. It signifies a new beginning for the property.

Chancellor Kyle R. Carter, Sarah Carter, Dr. Hunt, Dr. Kitts, Town of Pembroke representative Channing Jones, President of MetCon Aaron Thomas, EDA representative Robin Cooley,  Golden Leaf representative Dan Gerlach, UNCP Foundation representative James Martin, U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre, two architects from Jenkins Peer, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs John Jones, Chief of Staff Dan Kenney, Dean of the School of Business John Parnell, SGA President Biruk Kassaw, residents and others were present at the event. Some participated in the groundbreaking.

Jenkins Peer was selected in January as the architecture firm to design the incubator.

MetCon was hired in September to do the construction.

Construction will begin in November.

Dr. Hunt said the plan is for the construction to last 10 months and be ready to open in August 2015.

Dr. Hunt said UNCP is currently seeking an “EI Director,” whom she hopes to have hired by January 2015.

The EI Director would be responsible for marketing among other duties.

Photo by Sara Owen. UNCP administrators, donors and others shovel dirt in a ceremonial groundbreaking on Oct. 24.