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If you are a business interested in being featured in one of our monthly profiles, please contact Lily Kays 
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Entrepreneur Highlight Tori Mitchell

What happens when passion meets perseverance? With hard work, drive, and commitment, it means a thriving business, dream realized, and her Nail Institute opened and thriving. Tori Mitchell, entrepreneur, nail enthusiast, and owner of Burlington’s Nail Fiendz Nail Institute is the perfect embodiment of these key traits.

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Small Business Highlight: Kim Black 

Meet Miss Kim, the visionary force behind the wonderful world of Miss Kim's Dance Company. With a dance journey spanning over 37 years, Miss Kim's passion for teaching children ignited a creative spark that led her to establish her own studio, a studio for young dancers aged 16 months to 11 years old.  From her approach to teaching and working with kids from all levels to the fun brightly colored dance studios inside, this dance teacher has it ready for her young dancers to shine! 

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Black Friday Going Out of Style? An Examination of Black Friday's Economic Impact in the US

In a groundbreaking new announcement, Toyota announced they will be investing an addition $8 billion and adding 3,000 more jobs to its electrical vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Liberty, North Carolina.

Learn more about the future of Electric vehicles and how they can impact positively impact our environment and economy in the future. 

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Gabby Funderburk 

Paul's Pastry shop is a cornerstone in the Burlington community. Owners Al and Shirley share their business goals, history of the store and more in this month's profile. 

Next time you are craving a sweet treat, donut, or a cup of coffee, head to Paul’s, check out the misfits, support a fantastic local business, and be a part of the next generation of Paul’s Pastry goers in Burlington NC.

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Electrical Vehicles Continue to Lead the Way In North Carolina  

In a groundbreaking new announcement, Toyota announced they will be investing an addition $8 billion and adding 3,000 more jobs to its electrical vehicle battery manufacturing plant in Liberty, North Carolina.

Learn more about the future of Electric vehicles and how they can impact positively impact our environment and economy in the future. 

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Small Business Highlight: Al and Shirley Cimino 

Paul's Pastry shop is a cornerstone in the Burlington community. Owners Al and Shirley share their business goals, history of the store and more in this month's profile. 

Next time you are craving a sweet treat, donut, or a cup of coffee, head to Paul’s, check out the misfits, support a fantastic local business, and be a part of the next generation of Paul’s Pastry goers in Burlington NC.

Click the photo to read more! 

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A New Social District for Downtown Burlington   

The City of Burlington launched its brand-new social district in Downtown Burlington. on Friday September 29th.  Coinciding with the City’s Fourth Friday outdoor concert series, the social district launch saw a great turnout of families, Elon students and community members! 

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Michael Ratigan

FJORD, was incorporated in the state of North Carolina as a small business entity in 1997. The family run business specializes in rope abrasion protection and has two diverse product lines, Chafe-Pro and STREP. CEO Michael Ratigan has made the choice to grow the company in -Burlington and is proud to be an NC-based company. With exiting new developments in the works, we can't wait to see what they will work on next! 

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Anderson Rathbun and The Burlington Sock Puppets 

 Burlington's baseball story is one of tradition, evolution and entrepreneurship; a journey that has seen professional baseball in our City transition from a stale summer curiosity into a must-attend event full of excitement and engagement. Over the last three years, the Burlington Sock Puppets have managed to become a -phenomenon, packing the stadium for nearly every home game with cheering fans all around the ballpark. This is in large part due to the management team and staff who have cultivated an atmosphere rooted in community, silliness, and comradery.

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AI and The Future of Business: An Examination of Pros and Cons of the Fast-Advancing AI Field 

Technology, as we know it, is constantly shifting and evolving. The rise of AI is our next advancement, and while many are apprehensive about the vast spread of applications and uses, there are clear positive and negative sides to this emerging field. AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is the ability of a machine or a computer to perform tasks that are usually associated with human intelligence, such as reasoning, learning, and problem-solving. 

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ProKidney Merger set to Expand NC Economy, Jobs, and Health Outcomes Statewide 

 ProKidney LLC, a Winston-Salem-based clinical-stage biotechnology company founded in 2015 and targeting chronic kidney disease (CKD) with a proprietary cell therapy, will establish a new manufacturing facility in Greensboro. This new facility will be adding nearly 330 new life sciences jobs to the Piedmont Triad area when construction is complete in 2027. Over the next decade one fact is clear, this development will increase jobs in the bio tech field, boost the North Carolina economy and continue to attract businesses to the Piedmont Triad and Alamance County.  

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Entrepreneur Highlight: LeTonya and Eric Miles

For Eric and LeTonya Miles, owning their own sweet shop was a blessing and a dream come true. Many business owners can relate to the feeling of accomplishment that expansion and progress in their company creates, and LeTonya and Eric know it best. Miles of Sweetness, with their unique take on sugary treats, will have you feeling like a kid all over again! 

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Ninive Zarate

One of the most important character traits an entrepreneur must have is perseverance – the ability to persist in doing something despite the difficulties a person may face in achieving success. Ninive Zarate, along with her husband Roberto Canesco, have persevered and demonstrated their entrepreneurial spirit through the founding of Red Bark Construction, right here in Burlington.

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Economic Development Partner Spotlight: Wendy Walker-Fox

As Burlington continues to grow in population, in business, and in labor strength, the City’s connections to workforce development are integral to its continued success. Director of Workforce and Economic Development, Wendy Walker-Fox, shares some insight on the Piedmont Triad workforce scene, seeing as the NCWorks Commission voted in February to accept Alamance County into the Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Local Area.

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The Local Housing Market

The housing market has been a rollercoaster ride since the COVID-19 Pandemic. The last few years of surging demand for renovations and new homes, fueled by historically low-interest rates, put additional pressure on supply and labor shortages. But Burlington and North Carolina are certainly growing in economic development - so where are all these people going to live? 

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Liz Joyner

If you haven’t heard of Rose & Rae’s already, you are in for a treat – literally! Burlington welcomes Rose & Rae’s Café, a Keto-Friendly, Sugar Free, Certified Gluten Free Kitchen that recently opened their first location in March. Owner and entrepreneur Liz Joyner shared her story and vision for the business, named after her two daughters, and how healthy lifestyles can be not only attained but also enjoyed through clean cooking. 

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Economic Development Partner Spotlight: Phydesia Lewis

Business support and workforce development are huge parts of economic development – so much so that without local partners like the Small Business Center at Alamance Community College, Burlington would not be seeing economic success like that of recent years. Phydesia Lewis, the Director of the ACC Small Business Center and this month’s Economic Development Partner Spotlight, seeks to continue the important work that ACC is doing to grow the local talent pool and provide local businesses the support they need to thrive.

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Workforce Development for Economic Development

Workforce development has become increasingly more important for employers to help manage, sustain, and retain an employee base for their respective companies. In a business environment where an individual worker no longer wants to work a high-stress, low-skilled job, workforce development strategies demonstrate how a company or community is willing to invest in their workforce.


2022 Year in Review

2022 was a busy, successful and foundational year for economic development in the City of Burlington. The headline numbers are big: private companies in Burlington announced $154 million in new investment and 230 new jobs. The annual new investment in the City in 2022 is the highest we've recorded since 2000. 

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Doug Hyman

Life can sometimes get ahead of us – time seems to fly too fast, work seems to move too slow, and there are never enough hours in the day. Doug Hyman, local entrepreneur and manager of done4Ulaundry, saw an opportunity to give back to his community – to offer families and businesses laundry and dry cleaning services so that customers could spend their quality time with loved ones instead.

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North Carolina's In-Migration Numbers

North Carolina has had a record year – and after the tumultuous period of COVID-19 Pandemic, where businesses and customers alike were thrown into uncertainty, markets and migration into the state seem to be returning to their pre-pandemic levels. In the midst of recovery, North Carolina has seen growth, and along with it the hope for further progress and innovation.

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The Importance of Existing Industries 

As the new year begins and anticipation continues to build, many may wonder what will happen with all the megasites and big companies locating nearby. But a business community cannot just seek out the new announcements – some of its most dedicated, important, and influential members are businesses that have been here all along. Read more about how local existing businesses bring stability to a community's economy and social identity, fueling job creation and industry permanence.

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International Economic Development

As the world gets smaller through the rise of global firms, supply chains, and interconnected markets, competitive companies and places that only focus locally could be missing big opportunities. Read more about international economic development and how globalization has made it remarkably easier – and effective – to engage with customers worldwide.  

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Economic Development Partner Spotlight: Loren Hill 

The NC Carolina Core – a 120+ mile stretch through the middle of the state encompassing major cities and metropolitan areas along the future Interstate 685 – is a focal point of the Piedmont Triad Partnership’s mission. Loren Hill, the Carolina Core Regional Economic Development Director for the Piedmont Triad Partnership, sheds light on the Core with passion and excitement as he describes his commitment to his work.

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Shannon Huffman

As a business, one of the most important parts of the job isn’t the job at all – it is the attention to the people. Whether that is the customers you serve or the employees you hire, the individuals that are involved in the process from start to finish give meaning to the work itself. When talking to Shannon Huffman, Co-Owner of Huffman Sales and Service, her conviction for this was crystal clear. 

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The Big Impact of Small Business

You may sometimes hear that small businesses are the backbone of the United States Economy, but what does that really mean? Take a look at the true impact of small businesses in the U.S., their impact on the economy, and what resources have become available in a post-COVID-19 world.


Entrepreneur Highlight: Chris Pence

In a world where automation is exciting, industries are booming, and business runs on efficiency, one big question shaped this business – “What is the relevancy of handmade pottery in a mechanized world?” Chris Pence, co-owner of Burlington-based porcelain pottery company Haand, opens up about the inspiration and history of the business, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this year.   


What are Industry Clusters? 

Industry clusters have become a popular mode of competitive advantage, especially in a world that operates on a global market. By grouping around each other, companies are able to work together to produce similar and interrelated products. Learn more about what it looks like in practice. 

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Highlighting Hispanic and Latino Entrepreneurship

In recognition of the achievements, contributions, and history of Hispanic-Americans and Latinos in the United States, September 15th through October 15th signifies National Hispanic Heritage Month. Burlington Economic Development wants to recognize Latino and Hispanic entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina, and how both foreign-born and US-born Hispanic populations hold an essential role within the business community today.

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Entrepreneur Highlight: Scott Gollnick

What do Burlington, Czechoslovakia, Nickelodeon, and professional sports all have in common? Well of course it’s Scott Gollnick, Co-Founder of OT Sports! For almost 30 years, OT Sports has been creating custom uniforms for over 400 professional, youth, and travel teams across the United States and Canada – including the Burlington Sock Puppets, Greensboro Grasshoppers, and Durham Bulls.

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Economic Development Partner Spotlight: Tracy Dellinger

Tracy Dellinger is the Manager of Existing Industry Expansions within the Piedmont Triad Region. As one of the managers, Tracy is focused on helping existing businesses within this region prosper and expand by providing essential resources to overcome barriers of growth. Get a closer look at her work and the close partnership that the City of Burlington has with EDPNC.

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The Benefits of Variety: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Business

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are concepts that arise in many areas of interest - in business, in education, in media - due to their intertwined nature and social relevance. As a society, difference is a given; how can diversity, equity, and inclusion be put to our advantage within business?

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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Alana Bennett

Inspiration can come in many forms – the way that a person shapes their dreams and goals is a special and unique process, and one that is hard to put a finger on. But one thing is for sure – for Alana Bennett, founder and CEO of TECpark, her inspiration came from a place of love and compassion, which she fosters in her business day in and day out. 

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NC Building Reuse Grant Program

On June 16, 2022, the NC Rural Infrastructure Authority announced that 13 Building Reuse grants have been awarded to businesses across the state. This round of the Building Reuse Program amounted to $2,655,000 and commitments to creating 427 total jobs. 

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Introducing North Carolina's Electric Vehicle Industry

Since December 2021, North Carolina has announced two major projects in the electric vehicle industry. Firstly, Toyota will construct a battery manufacturing facility at the Greensboro-Randolph megasite. Secondly, VinFast will bring their first U.S. manufacturing plant to Moncure in Chatham County. Here we examine the economic impact of both projects in the state, as well as the significance for Burlington and the surrounding areas in the near future. 

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The New Faces of Economic Development 

The City of Burlington has some new faces around town! Within the Economic Development office, there are two new hires – Erin McClure Nettles, the Downtown Manager, and Isabella DeLaGarza, who is completing a year-long graduate fellowship through Elon University. Both individuals are excited to be a part of the team and want to share a bit about themselves.

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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Zack Touloupas

For anyone who owns a small business, it is no secret that it takes commitment, passion, and work to make it happen. With their recent decision to sell the business, it seemed fitting to celebrate the accomplishments of the Touloupas family. Third-generation owner Zack Touloupas shares some parting thoughts as he passes on the torch and looks forward to retirement.

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Eat Burlington: Restaurant Guide

Elon students enrolled in ENT3550, or Entrepreneurship For The Greater Good, taught by Dr. Elena Kennedy, curated a Burlington restaurant information guide to boost the awareness and accessibility of local restaurants. 

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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Tristaun LeClaire

What do you do if there isn’t a product that best suits your needs? One of two things: go without the product or invent it yourself. This month’s entrepreneur spotlight, Tristaun LeClaire, did both. 

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Information Security Essentials for Work and Home

It is important to understand the potential cyber dangers that could negatively impact your personal and business information, resulting in a decrease in profit and overall security.

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Running & Running  A Business 

Running a business isn’t easy, but small businesses are the lifeline of the U.S. economy. You and your business are essential, which means you must do everything in your power to ensure stability and prosperity.

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Improving Employee Benefits

Amid the Great Resignation, it is critical for companies to consider the best strategies to strengthen employee retention. Employee benefits can help to attract talent and minimize employee offboarding, while boosting employee health. Health benefits are, arguably, the last place you want to cut costs.

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Entrepreneur Spotlight: Nancy Rosborough 

Mycorrhiza Biotech is an agri-business that specializes in fungi and allied organisms to develop products, tools and services for diverse agricultural applications that help America’s farms and forests thrive. Nancy Rosborough, the Chief Executive Officer, is this month’s Entrepreneur Spotlight!

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Healthcare System Expansion Benefits Economic Vitality 

The Alamance Regional Medical Center is expanding to serve a greater number of patrons across the region. According to Cone Health, “the project will add 14,000 sq. ft. and renovate nearly 49,000 sq. ft. at the medical center. It will move and nearly double the size of the Norville Breast Care Center.” The 34.2-million-dollar project will take about two years to complete, but what does this mean for economic development? 

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Entrepreneur Highlight- Michelle Spurlock

This month's entrepreneur highlight is Michelle Spurlock, an aerial arts enthusiast and CEO of the first ever aerial arts and fitness studio in Burlington, NC. 

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Everybody Benefits from Digital Literacy Education

In an increasingly digital society, workforce participants must adapt to the needs of their employers. For business owners, this remains true and evident. To lead a team toward developing a scalable and sustainable business, everyone on the team should engage in continued learning pertaining to their prospective roles.  

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Broadband Expansion Efforts in Alamance County

The pandemic made it clear that internet access is not just a want, but a dire need. Since the summer of 2021, the Piedmont Triad Regional Council and Impact Alamance have convened community leaders to develop a plan to utilize federal funds to expand broadband access to the residents of Alamance County.

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How to Digitize Your Accounting Practices - Tracking Money Using Automated Tools

Most small business owners are excellent at providing their services, but there are digital tools available to help you up your accounting game to help you sustain your success.

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Entrepreneur Spotlight - Itrya Robinson

This month’s Entrepreneur Highlight spotlights Ityra Robinson, a seasoned professional masseuse of Ityra’s Body Therapies.A business of one that has brought healing to many. 

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Making Your Business Official 

If you are a solopreneur, a person that owns and operates a business on individually, it can be intimidating to decide how to legally form your business. This blog will highlight the differences between various corporate formations and other tax delegations to help you make a well-informed decision on which route is best for your business. 

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Elon Engineering Program Excites Economic Development

Something is always on the move on Elon's campus, this time around it's the exicitng Innovation Quad that will house the Engineering Program, check out what to look forward to in this blog.

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Business Spotlight #6 - Feraud Calixte

A serial entrepreneur and a big booster of Burlington's opportunity, Feraud seeks to be a resource and advocate for entrepreneurs in our community. Learn more about him here!

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Burlington Economic Development's 2021 In Review

Looking back on successes and how they will impact our growth going forward. Our city, county, region, and state have a lot of momentum and Burlington Economic Development is excited to play its part in a more prosperous future for the community.

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Investments in Megasite set to pay dividends for Piedmont Triad

In 2021, North Carolina and the Piedmont Triad are poised to secure more trajectory-changing investments in another megasite. Located on the Randolph/Guilford County border in Liberty, the Greensboro-Randolph Megasite is an 1,825-acre industrial property on the cusp of landing a major economic development project. 

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Business Spotlight #4 - Pamela Day - Cross-Country Truck Driving School

The trucking industry has recorded a historic deficit in drivers since 2018, leaving a huge gap to fill to meet the growing e-commerce demands. Luckily for Burlington, we have a first-rate training school preparing the next generation of safe truckers! 

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Tools for Digital Success

Are you a business owner looking to enhance your customer experience with digital tools? The US Black Chambers, Inc. hosted a virtual event led by Marsha Lynn Hudson, a social media and business strategist, on July 22, 2021. During the event, Hudson dropped valuable wisdom to take your business and brand to the next level. 

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Economic Development and Name, Image and Likeness

With the change in NCAA rules and state policies, virtually every collegiate student athlete can pursue endorsement income. What does this mean for local businesses? This could be a prime opportunity for your business to gain greater exposure and create awareness of your products or services.  


Busines Spotlight 3 - The Right Direction Barbershop

For decades, probably even centuries, barbershops have played a major role in the community. They serve as sacred places for people of all walks of life to convene and be free to be themselves. Barbers are natural community builders and talented artists that are essential to society. Besides tax professionals and morticians, barbers are one of the few professions that I believe will never die.

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Workplace Diversity Equity and Inclusion

Diversity refers to the coexistence of people from varying abilities, genders, ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, and classes. However, the identities listed above merely scratch the surface of everything included under the scope of diversity. The pandemic has made way to increase the diversity of teams within companies, as employers hire remote workers across the globe. There are numerous benefits to prioritizing diversity in the workplace.  

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Maple Avenue Facade Grant - October 6, 2021

Do you know a business owner on Maple Avenue looking to improve the exterior of their property, but are lacking the funds to start a new project? If so, direct them to the City of Burlington’s Economic Development Department, where they can apply for up to 10,000 dollars to improve the beautification of their property.  More information can be found in the posted blog. 

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Emergency Planning for Business Preparedness - September 30, 2021

Emergency planning is vital to the longevity of your small business. In today’s modern society, entrepreneurs must be prepared to combat any potential threats. Let’s break down the various hazardous events that need to be included in your emergency plan.

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Business Incubators are Here to Stay - September 29, 2021

Business incubators are companies that specialize in assisting entrepreneurs in their start up ventures by providing various services and resources. Check out this blog to learn more about them!


Business Spotlight 2 : Crowson Insurance Agency - September 29, 2021

Have you ever met anyone with a family lineage of entrepreneurs dating back to the late 1800s? e. Holt Skinner, the owner of Crowson Insurance Agency, is this month’s Burlington Business owner spotlight. As a Burlington native, Elon University graduate, and downtown Burlington business veteran, Holt Skinner is a force to be reckoned with in the insurance industry. 

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The Post-COVID Workplace: What are the Experts Saying - September 3, 2021

After the release of Gov. Cooper’ executive order calling for an ease on masks and gathering limits, businesses have gradually invited their employees to return to work in-person. However, some organizations are still hesitant about fully re-opening office spaces.Is one option better than the other?

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Business Spotlight 1 : All Pro Media - August 30, 2021

It is not every day that you find established business owners with over 30 years of experience willing to make time to speak with young professionals. Luckily for me, Alan Kirby of All Pro Media, Inc. enthusiastically volunteered to be my first interview in our new Burlington Business Spotlight series. With great excitement, I bring to you an exclusive look into a local business owners’ journey down the path of entrepreneurship, secrets to success, and a closer look at the splendor of All Pro Media! 

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HEROES ACT : Second Stimulus Bill - December 29, 2020

Please read the quick summary of some highlights of the HEROES Act, signed by President Trump December 27, 2020. 

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Burlington Microenterprise Loan - November 24, 2020

In response to the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has notified the City of Burlington that it will receive an additional allocation of $344,077 to be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 (CDBG-CV funds). The Microenterprise Loan Program was allocated a further $86,000 by the Burlington City Council to assist businesses in need through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Current Funding Opportunities - Septmber 25, 2020

The landscape for COVID-19 business assistance is ever-changing. While some resources have exhausted funds or expired, new programs continue to emerge and help businesses survive through the pandemic. The below list summarizes all known available financial and services resources for Burlington-based companies. 

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Support in the Face of the Unknown - March 15, 2020

Through this uncertainty, please be certain of one thing: Burlington Economic Development is ready to respond. We are experienced economic developers who exist to support our business community and identify resources to address lost income, recovery planning, emergency financing and other issues. 

This will not be easy, but we will get through it together.

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Burlington Trade Mission to South Korea - February 22, 2020

The City of Burlington Economic Development Department wrapped up a lively year of industry activity in 2019 with a 4-day trade mission to South Korea, where we visited with multiple companies, trade organizations, local governments and universities. It was a productive trip that is already yielding results and commerce heading into 2020.

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What is Economic Development? - January 6, 2020

Economic Development is a profession working to grow businesses and jobs in the community in number, quality, and diversity. Professionals in this line of work to encourage the growth of existing and small businesses, assist in workforce development, and market the community to potential investors. These efforts in Burlington are in the pursuit of creating a more diverse and sustainable business climate in Burlington. 

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2020 NC County Tier Rankings - Decmber 16, 2019

The North Carolina Department of Commerce annually ranks the economic well-being of the State’s 100 counties, grouping like economies in tiers. This Tier system is incorporated into various state development and financing programs to encourage economic activity and leverage more dollars in less prosperous areas of the State. The 40 most distressed counties are designated as Tier 1, the next 40 as Tier 2 and the 20 least distressed as Tier 3. 

Alamance County has improved it's standing heading into 2020.

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Burlington Blog Series - December 16, 2019

Greetings from the City of Burlington Economic Development Department!   We’ve started this blog series to better engage our residents, businesses and partners in how we are working collaboratively to support a bigger, better Burlington.

Our department is the City’s dedicated team committed to supporting businesses, entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders in their efforts to invest, innovate and create new jobs and wealth in the City. >