Cassandra Ray, Turning Point Advisors
Charlotte, NC, April 26, 2012 – Today, the board of directors of The Ben Craig Center, a public-private non-profit organization affiliated with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, announced a new strategy to lead the region in developing a comprehensive innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem to inform public policy and improve entrepreneurial and innovation practice. As part of this major initiative, the organization will be renamed Ventureprise, Inc “The Catalyst for Entrepreneurial Innovation” to reflect its new mission and scope of services.
This strategy comes after two years of research and planning by The Ben Craig Center board, working with UNC Charlotte, the City, the Chamber, other community organizations and nonprofits, and entrepreneurs.
Mayor of Charlotte Anthony Foxx applauds their vision by explaining, “With Ventureprise, Paul Wetenhall and his team are expanding beyond the walls of a traditional incubator and facilitating a collaborative approach to entrepreneurial education, networking and capital formation. This forward looking approach is coming at the ideal time when our region is working to empower ntrepreneurs and accelerate business formation and job creation.”
“The Charlotte region has many great assets and networks that directly support an entrepreneur’s ability to succeed,” says Paul Wetenhall, president of Ventureprise. “Our joint planning with groups across the region identified a gap in strategy, coordination and communications leveraging these resources. That is what the re-launch of The Ben Craig Center as Ventureprise is meant to do."
Dr. Robert Wilhelm, vice chancellor for research and economic development, UNC Charlotte, says “Ventureprise is the university’s primary resource for community engagement with entrepreneurs. In addition to the annual Charlotte Venture Challenge, we have collaborated for researcher opportunities and faculty and student involvement.
The Ben Craig Center, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, was one of the nation’s first university affiliated business incubators. Ventureprise is the natural evolution of the center as a regional resource, offering an expanded services scope such as organizing a regional entrepreneurial event calendar; communicating growth oriented policies; providing entrepreneurs opportunity evaluations; leading problem solving discussions among business networks, the university, investors and entrepreneurs; and organizing capital conferences, among other activities.
The board of directors has been designed to represent the stakeholders for the expanded regional mission. Board chairman and entrepreneur Douglas Dawson prospered in The Ben Craig Center from 1983 to 1997. The 15-person board of directors includes entrepreneurs, investors, attorneys, and representatives of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, City of Charlotte, David H. Murdoch Research Institute, Queens University, UNC Charlotte, and Honorary Director, Mayor Anthony Foxx.
ABOUT VENTUREPRISE, INC
Ventureprise, Inc. (formerly The Ben Craig Center) is a regional public-private non-profit that supports the success of start-up and early-stage entrepreneurs. Ventureprise accomplishes this through a program of education, networking, access to capital, and business incubation and acceleration services. Ventureprise is leading the region in building a strategy and a supportive ecosystem that fosters growth of innovative and entrepreneurial companies. Ventureprise has strong links to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as well as to businesses and community resources throughout the region.
Friday April 27, 2012