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The Sky’s the Limit for Small Businesses in Western NC: Secretary of State Elaine F. Marshall

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

Secretary Marshall heard directly from small business owners like Ursula Wynn who make downtown Brevard so vibrant.

I was honored to meet with small business owners from Transylvania and Henderson counties in May during a small business roundtable and downtown business walk in Brevard. Sometimes there’s no substitute for meeting small business owners where they live, and these face-to-face meetings are a great way for me to hear directly from the business community that we serve at the NC Secretary of State’s Office. I also had the opportunity to visit some of their businesses in person, and their enthusiasm is absolutely infectious. Walking into folks’ shops is the best way to truly see just how integral these businesses are to their communities as well as their local economies.

We had great coverage of this visit from The Transylvania Times and WLOS for the roundtable discussion and as I dropped in on shops like Earth Mountain Bicycle, Cup & Saucer, and Papa L.E.W.

The team at Earth Mountain Bicycle was eager to talk about their business and Brevard’s community of cycling enthusiasts.

The new era of homegrown entrepreneurship that emerged in mid-2020 during the most challenging days of the pandemic has continued around the state – and that’s certainly the case for the 22 counties that the Western Women’s Business Center serves. All of your counties saw at least double digit growth in new business creations between fiscal year 2019-2020 and fiscal year 2020-2021.

Rather than new business creations settling back down to pre-pandemic norms, the rate of new creations continues an overall upward trajectory. Just in the first five and a half months of this year, business creation filings from entrepreneurs across this region have grown more than 3% from the robust business creation numbers in the same period last year.

As a former small business owner in a rural community, I fully appreciate how important your establishments are to your communities – and how many challenges you face every day. The work we do at the Secretary of State’s Office is not only essential to new businesses as they open their doors — it can also help them keep their doors open. We know from some of our historical data that about 25% of businesses stop operating by year three, and half are closed by year seven. Our Rural RISE (Resources for Innovators, Start-Ups and Entrepreneurs) NC Initiative is designed to help inform businesses of the county-specific low and no-cost resources – including lenders, mentors, and business counselors – that are available locally in order to help keep them open, thriving, creating jobs and growing their local economies for many years to come.

Our searchable database ( now includes resources specific to 33 rural counties – including eight counties in your region – as well as statewide resources. This initiative grew out of the historic increase we’ve seen in business creations in the past three years and a desire to help close the rural-urban economic divide. But once the searchable database is complete it will offer every business across North Carolina – rural and urban, new and established – access to resources available to their communities.

The proprietors at Cup and Saucer provide a cozy haven for Brevard’s coffeeaficionados.

Each new business represents someone’s dream, their drive, and their determination to forge a new path for themselves and their family. Every time someone finds success in business, it benefits us all. That is particularly true of women-owned businesses that can drive so much economic growth – especially when they’re empowered to expand and create more jobs.

I thank each of you for helping make our state’s economy so vibrant through your hard work, ingenuity and innovation – you are the backbone of North Carolina’s economy. Clearly, the sky’s the limit for the entrepreneurial spirit in North Carolina’s beautiful mountains!

Elaine F. Marshall

Secretary of State

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