East Carolina University is launching an innovative new strategy to help revitalize communities in eastern North Carolina, turning to its students to develop and support new enterprises in the region. This week the university launched its microenterprise program, a multidisciplinary strategy that brings together teams of students and industry mentors to support regional business development. However, while these businesses may be small, ECU is not investing small-scale resources into them. University leaders are committing to produce the most small business startups of any North Carolina university and believe this program will help drive a new generation of businesses in eastern North Carolina.
On a humid October morning in New Bern, Byun Serchom grabs a clothespin and searches for a warm spot on the deck outside of her mobile home. With a flurry of activity around her, Serchom pulls soaking wet papers out of a sheet protector as the wet ink smudges across the thin plastic that once kept her documents safe from harm. “I can’t believe you found these,” Serchom said, lifting her U.S. certificate of citizenship into the sunlight that soon turned the sodden mess into a more recognizable form. “I looked for them before the storm and couldn’t find them. They’re very important to me.”
Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Keith Wheeler has been named the inaugural executive director for East Carolina University’s newly created Office of National Security and Industry Initiatives. Wheeler joins ECU after a national search led by the university’s Division of Research, Economic Development and Engagement. The Office of National Security and Industry Initiatives combines several REDE programs into one office, helping ECU researchers engage with government and industry entities to advance programs and partnerships that promote the health, education and economic advancement of eastern North Carolinians.