A Record Number of New Businesses Are Starting Up In North Carolina
An abundance of new businesses are opening in North Carolina this year. The secretary of state's office accepted a record number of filings for new business creations in 2020, and is projected to shatter that record in 2021.
North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall says the growth in businesses began in the midst of the pandemic last summer and took off this year.
"The growth is absolutely historic," Marshall said. "Beginning in June of last year we started to see an uptick, and it was not just small [and] incremental — it was a balloon that exploded."
In March and April of 2020, her office saw an increase in businesses seeking to be reinstated after receiving federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to stay afloat during the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marshall said she expected new business filings to subside after that wave, and to her surprise, they increased month-over-month throughout the summer and skyrocketed in 2021.
"Lo and behold, this growth has just continued and continued and continued," Marshall said. "We will soon match, sometime in August, all we did in 2020."
The secretary of state's office surveys businesses when they reach their first anniversary, and those surveys have found about 80% are "alive and well," Marshall said, and about a fifth employ three or more people.
Marshall's office also found the rate of new business growth has been most significant in less wealthy counties as opposed to wealthier urban centers. Scotland and Edgecombe Counties topped the list for percentage growth, with an increase of more than 200% between June 2020 and June 2021.
President and CEO of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce David Farris says the neighboring counties have suffered from high unemployment in recent years — and in the past, women and people of color have been left out of recovery from economic downturns.
"It's different this time," Farris said. "I think a lot of people have used that time at home to reassess their lives, their goals and are determined to make things better."
More than half of the Rocky Mount Area Chamber's new members this year are women or people of color, according to its Membership Director Sam Bass. He says the chamber is excited to help them navigate resources and network with other small business owners.
Marshall says area chambers of commerce and small business centers at community colleges can serve as a helpful resource for new entrepreneurs learning to finance their operations or file taxes for the first time.
"It's an inspiration," Marshall said of the new services cropping up in small towns and e-businesses run out of owner's homes. "They don't have to be in Raleigh or Durham or Charlotte to be able to do these things."