Why small business is a big deal in Currituck County

Larry Lombardi is the economic development director of Currituck County. Contact him at (252) 232-6015 or Larry.Lombardi@CurrituckCountyNC.gov. For more information, visitthinkcurrituck.com.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 871,300 small businesses in North Carolina. That’s almost 1 million people who created something from nothing.

Starting a small business is hard work.

It doesn’t matter if they work alone or if they have 200 employees. It doesn’t matter if they just broke ground on a new corporate headquarters or work in their garage. And it doesn’t matter if they earn millions or make just enough every month to cover the rent.

My job as economic development director is to grow the local economy. That means encouraging new business, as well as retaining and expanding companies who are already here.

For better or worse, most economic development headlines are made by the really big deals. Everybody loves the drama that comes with stadium proposals, automotive plant bids or the chance to land the new Amazon campus.

I’m less interested in long shots. Sure, I could stand around all day waiting to simultaneously win the lottery and get struck by lighting… but I’ve got better things to do with my time.

I’d rather devote my energy to establish a strong entrepreneurial culture and help our existing companies expand and prosper.

Small business is already working in Currituck County.

U.S. Census Bureau data from 2014 shows that firms with fewer than 20 workers made up 89.4 percent of businesses. Here in Currituck, we have just over 90 percent of businesses with less than 20 workers. And according to the Edward Lowe Foundation, second stage companies have the highest potential for growth. Stage 2 businesses currently represent 35.9% of the jobs in Currituck County. !

As a partner in Silicon Valley tech startups during the 1990s, I saw what happens when great ideas are given a chance to grow. And as a Business Development Manager for the city of Norfolk, I worked with a new generation of bold business thinkers.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that business is about people. Companies are made by human beings, for other human beings. It’s as simple as that.

To succeed, they need three things:

  • Opportunity: For
  • my money, there’s no better place to build a business than Currituck County. We’ve got plenty of open space, 150 miles of pristine coastline including the Currituck Outer Banks, a great quality of life and incredible people. You get all the financial perks of operating in North Carolina (including our 3 percent corporate income tax rate, the lowest in the nation among states who have one) and you’re only minutes away from the wealth of resources in the Hampton Roads, Virginia region.
  • Community: There are dozens of organizations ready to help your business. Visit our website to find links for everything from financing assistance to free workspace. Everyone in Currituck also has free access to 1000 Four, a great online source for entrepreneurial education and start-up advice developed by my friends at Hatch, a Norfolk-based company that functions as an incubator for startups (startwithhatch.com).
  • Support: This is where I come in. Connecting people is my superpower. I don’t wear a cape (I actually prefer a nice Tommy Bahama Hawaiian shirt), but I’m always available to help with strategic issues and customized research. Call me. If I don’t know the answer, the odds are pretty good I know someone who does.

Larry Lombardi is the economic development director of Currituck County. Contact him at (252) 232-6015 or Larry.Lombardi@CurrituckCountyNC.gov. For more information, visitthinkcurrituck.com.

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