Cardinal & Pine recently interviewed our RCDP guest speaker for the July 13th Breakfast – Elaine Marshall, NC Secretary of State. “Nearly 30 years since Elaine Marshall became the first woman elected to a statewide executive office in NC, she’s running for reelection on a promise to boost rural economic growth and help small businesses get off the ground.”

From the article:

NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall grew up on a farm, so she lights up when she talks about rural issues.

“We’ve got rural North Carolina hurting,” she said in a recent interview with Cardinal & Pine. “We have counties that are shrinking in population and they’re mostly experiencing brain drain.”

Marshall says that’s why her office—which is one of the first points of contact for aspiring small business owners—is focused on rural economic growth through its Rural RISE (Resources for Innovators, Startups, and Entrepreneurs) program, connecting entrepreneurs with advice, counseling, and their local chambers of commerce.

Marshall, who’s been in public office in NC for more than 30 years—first as a state legislator, then as secretary of state—is running for re-election this November. Her re-election campaign is, like NC Democrats’ overall strategy this year, centering on rural places.

“The ecosystem for entrepreneurs in places like Raleigh and Charlotte and Durham is thick. It’s abundant,” she says. “But once you get to Bladen County or Halifax County or Clay County in the west or Cherokee, the ecosystem for entrepreneurs is pretty thin and they really don’t know where to go and they feel like they’re on their own.”

NC is one of the least expensive places to launch a new business, but the lack of local resources can be fatal for new business owners. About a quarter of new businesses fail, and the problem is most acute in rural areas, Marshall says.

“So those counties lose leadership,” she says. “They lose opportunities. And so if I can do just a little bit to turn that tide around, I will feel like I’ve done a good day’s work.”

Read the entire interview at: