Research Areas

The EDA University Center at FSU was established with a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to support regional business expansion. In collaboration with the Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF) the Center will provide emerging entrepreneurs and existing small businesses with significantly improved access to capital through training and mentorship support programs which help reduce risk and prepare them for success.

The focus of this collaboration, referred to as 'Forward Cape Fear', will be on promoting entrepreneurial and small business growth for underserved populations in the six-county region (Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson, and Sampson) neighboring Fayetteville State University. Participants will be required to complete coursework on key business success factors and are required to perform market tests to confirm the viability of their proposed business models. 


The goals of the FSU EDA University Center are to:

  1. Strengthen the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem by bringing new entrepreneurial funding sources and efforts to the six-counties surrounding FSU.
  2. Improve access of underserved populations to financing sources by reducing risk through rigorous, results-oriented entrepreneurial training and ongoing mentorship.
  3. Assist existing companies and small businesses in the region with expansion efforts.
  4. Serve as a resource upon which public and private industrial economic development groups and businesses in the North Carolina Southeast's 6-county region may contact for assistance.


Up-and-coming entrepreneurs and program participants interested in start-up funding:

  1. Will learn about key business factors and are required to perform market tests to confirm they have a viable value proposition. Training will provide background instruction in core competencies - opportunity recognition and assessment, risk management, resilience, building networks, etc. - that research has shown to be critical for entrepreneurial success.
  2. Will be eligible for consideration of start-up microloans in the amount of $500 to $2,500 from Carolina Small Business Development Fund, after successful completion of the program via pre-screened and pre-qualified cohorts.
  3. Will be connected to a business advisor to assist in the creation of an action plan teaching them what entrepreneurs need to accomplish to move forward effectively and how to leverage FSU resources, partners, and volunteer mentors.  

Existing small businesses desiring funding to expand operations or improve profitability: 

  1. Can gain access to pre-loan guidance and consultations focused/tailored to their specific business needs. 
  2. May be recipients of larger working capital loans (averaging 25K each.
  3. Will receive assistance in seeking a funding from other regional sources, should the business be high potential and have needs that exceed the capital of Carolina Small Business Development Fund.

What Makes Us Different?

The FSU EDA University Center takes a holistic approach to entrepreneurship. If you are an aspiring underserved entrepreneur discouraged by the traditional lack of access to financing sources to launch your business venture, we'll provide you with the access, information, and tools necessary to help you get started.
We will work to connect you with consultants, partners, and mentors to educate you on the important aspects of business and empower you as budding entrepreneurs to take ownership by participating in market testing of your business proposal.   The FSU EDA University Center and its campus, local, and regional partners are here to assist you every step of the way, from concept to fruition. We look forward to working with you!

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Eligibility Requirements & Application

Program participants must:

> Be a United States citizen
> Be a resident, aspiring entrepreneur/or existing small business owner in one of the following Southeastern NC counties: Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson, Sampson

Bladen Hoke
Cumberland Robesson
Harnett Sampson

>  Demonstrate a need for financial support and business resources
>  Show how their proposed product and/or service is addressing an assessed need and can generate a profit
>  Be willing to participate in a required 8-week course, communicating with the program instructor and assigned mentor on a regular basis
>  Produce a viable business plan and budget at course's end that can be used to apply for microloans or expansion loans

Please download a copy of the program application here. Completed applications can be emailed to Malika Mercer at or dropped off in person to room 259 in the College of Business and Economics.

Data Center

EDA University Center's Data Center

The EDA University Center's Data Center is a resource clearinghouse that includes regional innovation accelerators, active listings of office space/incubators, law firms, accountant firms, list of science and technology researchers, list of state incentives, venture firms, market research firms, and experience business guidance organizations. The Data Center has essential resources for the agriculture, energy, and defense industries. It is catered to Business Owners, Entrepreneurs and Economic Developers to receive valuable resources to sustain and grow businesses in the southeastern region of North Carolina.The EDA University Center's Data Center is designed to help businesses to be successful.

The Regional Clearinghouse Database is located at includes programs and resources from federal and state agencies, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations including grass root organizations.
Contact Us to request for resources to grow your business.
If you are a vendor/organization that would like to be included in the resource clearinghouse, please contact us!