The inherent competitiveness of economic development in trying to recruit new businesses and industries into a community can be pretty intense and expensive. Think Dell (Winston-Salem, 2004) and Caterpillar (Winston-Salem, 2010). In today’s global economy, the competition for new jobs and investment can come from the county next door, another state, or even another country, and rural communities in particular often lack the amenities and other competitive advantages necessary for successful recruitment.
For Moore County (one of NC’s 85 rural counties), it was becoming more and more evident that conventional recruitment strategies alone were not going to yield the desired results. But at the same time, Partners in Progress (PIP) realized that Moore County was uniquely poised to take advantage of several relatively untapped economic development opportunities already existing right here in our communities.
Working with the Moore County Chamber and other community partners, PIP has spearheaded a new initiative called Moore Forward that will leverage the extensive talent we have in the increasing number of young professionals and families moving to the area; the active, separated and retired military and their families settled here, and the active retirees relocating here because of Moore County’s continued popularity as a retirement destination.
Moore Forward is a long-term action plan focused on innovation and entrepreneurship: cultivating local talent, "home growing" new businesses, and providing new growth opportunities to existing companies. The goal is not only to create new, high-quality and sustainable jobs for our residents, but also to measurably improve our communities socially and economically. Stakeholders from local governments, private businesses, non-profit organizations, and the community at large have participated in the plan’s development.
Moore Forward is primarily focused on 3 targeted entrepreneurial industry clusters: technology, community & individual wellness, and the military, with one major goal being Moore County’s emergence as the ideal location for creating and accelerating entrepreneurship within these targeted clusters.
Growing these clusters involves creating an entrepreneurial framework, or “ecosystem”, achieved through: BUILDING the entrepreneurial talent pipeline by developing local talent and recruiting new talent; SUPPORTING entrepreneurs in high-impact, high-growth ventures by providing peer and mentoring networks and capacity-building resources; and ADVOCATING on behalf of the entrepreneurial community and ensuring that local economic and community development policies support entrepreneurial activities.
This concept of establishing an entrepreneurial ecosystem is a component of an urban economic and community development model created by Bull City Forward / Forward Communities (in Durham). Moore Forward is the result of collaboration with Bull City Forward (BCF) to adapt BCF’s urban entrepreneurial development model to Moore County’s rural environment.
The model also involves establishing a shared, physical work space where entrepreneurs can network, collaborate, consult with mentors, and have access to capital. By March 1st, Moore Forward’s co-worker space will open in Pinehurst. Entrepreneurs can participate in Moore Forward through one of 2 levels of membership: Level 1 with access to amenities and events only; or Level 2 that includes dedicated work space in addition to the amenities and events.
Since its inception in 2002 as Moore County’s economic development organization, PIP has recognized the merit of entrepreneurship in creating new jobs and investment within a community. Moore Forward will strengthen Moore County’s entrepreneurial foundation and help define the County as a center of business innovation.