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NCGrowth is excited to announce new work at the cross-section of economic development and tribal food sovereignty. Christina Theodorou, who manages NCGrowth's anchor institution program, has forged a collaboration with award-winning Alaskan Chef Robert Kinneen, a long-time advocate for indigenous rights. Kinneen is the Outreach Director of North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NĀTIFS, which was founded by another renowned Native Chef, Sean Sherman. Sherman is known globally as The Sioux Chef.

Leading academics and innovators in the private and public sectors recently convened at the Kenan Institute’s wealth inequality conference which was co-organized by NCGrowth to foster meaningful dialogue about the effects of income disparity and how education and research can create opportunities for more equitable access.


NCGrowth prepared an in-depth report examining how communities with large automotive manufacturers can benefit from economic growth. Broadly, the report finds that local chambers of commerce should work with the large manufacturer to design workforce development programs and support local businesses via the supply chain. By developing symbiotic relationships between new and existing businesses, communities can ensure that the economic gains brought by the arrival of new, large employers are also distributed to local firms and residents.

Hotshots, a sauce distribution company with a selection of barbeque and hot sauces, rubs, and snacks is owned and operated by Matt and Lauren Heald. The company was established in the late 1990s by Lauren’s uncle and was later bought by the couple in 2008. Since then, they’ve acquired hot sauce brands, expanded aggressively and focused on two sale channels: wholesale and direct to consumer (DTC) sales. ​​​Hotshots Inc. revenue has been declining for a few years now, with the biggest hit coming from the discontinuation of a major restaurant chain customer during Covid-19. The goal and scope of the project with NCGrowth was to revamp sales and marketing and explore other avenues to boost sales. ​​

​​Big Boys Kitchen (BBK) Catering is a catering company operated and located in the territory of Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. The co-owner and CEO of the company, Patrick Dial, has extensive experience catering local events, church events, weddings, school events, and other private functions. The menu offering includes a variety of BBQ options with a local NC flavor. ​​​Pat asked NCGrowth to support their efforts to expand their offerings and establish an online presence. ​​NCGrowth provided a competitive analysis and audit of BBK’s online marketing presence.

Elaka Treats is an Indian and Middle Eastern Flavor Inspired Cardamom Infused Ice Cream. The company is owned by Shafna Shamsuddin who founded the company in 2019 in Greensboro, NC. Elaka Treats has been struggling with high manufacturing and fixed costs, such as rent and equipment. The goal and scope of the project was to revamp sales and marketing and explore other avenues to boost sales. Another pillar of the project was to help Shafna optimize her business operations given her limited storage capacity. NCGrowth analyst and UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA candidate, Yvan Koudinov, prepared a financial and operational analysis on Elaka’s sales and sale channels. Based on these insights, a strategic roadmap was developed which included hiring a new employee. Other deliverables included a sales funnel plan, actionable recommendations, industry data analytics, and a forward-looking content strategy.

NCGrowth and the UNC System have worked to develop a strategic plan for the System and its seventeen institutions to increase their use of historically underutilized businesses in their purchasing and procurement processes.

The town of Garysburg, located in Northampton County, NC, aims to revitalize its old elementary school by transforming it into a mixed-socioeconomic development hub. This project seeks to provide employment opportunities, educational resources, and foster social and economic growth for the community. NCGrowth analyzed diverse revenue streams and effective cost-management strategies to ensure long-term value for the town. NCGrowth analyst and UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA candidate, Rex Chauhan, developed a robust financial model that projected revenue streams, analyzed costs, and estimated returns on investment. NCGrowth also identified key personnel roles, and qualifications, and provided job descriptions.

ENC96RADIO, Greenville's emerging community radio platform, stands at a crucial juncture. While its grassroots appeal and community-centric vision hold immense potential, the internet radio station grapples with two significant challenges. Firstly, its self-funded model poses constraints on growth initiatives, content quality, and technological advancements, making sustainability an uphill battle. Secondly, differentiation in an industry crowded with giants like Sirius XM Radio Inc. and iHeartMedia, Inc., as well as other local competitors, is imperative. The station's task is not merely to exist as a community radio, but to craft a unique value proposition that resonates deeply with Greenville's residents, ensuring loyalty and regular engagement, all while transitioning from a self-financed passion project to a financially sustainable community cornerstone.

Founded in 2021 and headquartered in Winston-Salem, Bella Sol Medical Spa focuses on fostering self-care by delivering top-notch, customized, medical-grade services tailored to enhance the well-being and vitality of its clientele. In an effort to attract investments and boost revenue, Bella Sol Medical Spa requested support from NCGrowth on a comprehensive business plan. This plan identifies Bella Sol's strengths and competitive advantages, and provides an overview of the market landscape, including an analysis of top competitors. UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA candidate Yiwen Lin, an NCGrowth analyst, collaborated with Bella Sol owner Jalissa Grier on this project, with additional input from a professional wealth analyst who acted as an external reviewer.