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Moore County Achieves Certified Entrepreneurial Community® Designation

Moore County Partners in Progress is pleased to announce Moore County has earned the designation of Certified Entrepreneurial Community®.

“The Certified Entrepreneurial Community® (CEC®) designation means that Moore County is ‘entrepreneur-ready’ and we have a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that can help new start-ups and small businesses succeed”, said Natalie Hawkins, Executive Director of Partners in Progress.

Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy and in Moore County almost 70% of businesses employ less than five employees. Just last year, the State of NC had more new businesses created than any other year previously. “We’ve seen a healthy rate of new business creation in Moore County with over 2,500 new business corporation and LLC filings with the NC Secretary of State’s Office since January 2020. We want these businesses to be successful and this CEC® designation signifies we have the resources to support them,” said Hawkins.

The idea to pursue the CEC® designation originated from a feasibility study commissioned by Partners in Progress to determine if an entrepreneurial hub would be viable in Moore County. The study revealed an abundance of local resources and opportunities to grow the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Moore County.

Partners in Progress worked with Creative Economic Development Consulting, LLC (CEDC) to complete the CEC® Program. With coaching from CEDC, Partners in Progress assembled an Entrepreneurship Task Force of 13 stakeholders from government, small business, financial institutions, nonprofits, and educational providers that met monthly over the last year.

The CEC® program includes an Ecosystem Assessment, an Action Plan, Coaching, and Certification. An Action Plan is developed for an entrepreneurship project that will advance and strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Certification is awarded after a local task force accomplishes their entrepreneur initiative goal.

The Entrepreneurship Task Force focused their efforts on identifying and accumulating resources for entrepreneurs and small businesses, which culminated in a digital resource guide located on the Partners in Progress’ website (Start/Expand A Business). This efficient, easily accessible digital resource guide identifies entrepreneurial resources and providers all in one place, with a link to the Sandhills Entrepreneurship Engagement Network (SEEN) Resource Navigator.

“Moore County joins only 12 other communities in North Carolina and one in Virginia who have completed the CEC® program since its inception in 2007,” said Crystal Morphis, Founder and CEO of Creative Economic Development Consulting. “The digital resource guide created by the Entrepreneurship Task Force is a tremendous asset for cultivating and advancing entrepreneurship in Moore County.”

The CEC® program encourages certified communities to make a commitment to entrepreneur initiatives beyond the completion of the initial project. The Entrepreneurship Task Force is already making plans to organize an Entrepreneur Summit in 2023 that will raise awareness of resource providers, showcase successful entrepreneurs, match entrepreneurs with potential funders, and provide an opportunity for entrepreneurs to network.

The opportunity to establish an entrepreneurial hub in Moore County is still on Partners in Progress’ radar.  “We definitely have not abandoned the idea of a future hub,” said Hawkins. “The feasibility study revealed that a hub would be viable in Moore County, and our goal is to revisit and potentially pursue the opportunity within the next few years.”


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