(WGHP) — The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on a lot of businesses by shutting hundreds of thousands of them down. But it has an effect that came out later that a lot of people missed.

“I think the pandemic really drove people to evaluate entrepreneurship as a way for them to generate money for themselves or they might have seen it as an opportunity for them to really pursue something that they’re passionate about,” said Kaitlin Conover, who is part of Launch Greensboro, which one of the city’s non-profits that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed.

With North Carolina being rated as one of the best places to start or grow a business over the last few years, the Triad didn’t want to be left out of all the fun.

“We’re not drawing those hard lines around Greensboro. We really like to think of the ecosystem as the Triad at large,” Conover said. “You have the Nussbaum Center in Greensboro. You have Thrive High Point. You have other organizations out in Winston-Salem like Winston Starts. And it’s this network that we can guide entrepreneurs to different organizations and different resources so they can again build their success and build their knowledge.” 

One of the most successful programs Launch Greensboro runs for its 300 or so clients is mentoring with someone who has been there before and seeing not just the potential pitfalls but the opportunities. Clients get three-and-a-half months with a mentor to get a plan together.

“People come to us and they ask ‘how do I even get started? What do I do? What do I need to know? What do I not know that I should know?’ And so coming into our programs, we really help them look at those foundational elements that they should have in place to start their businesses,” Conover said.

And since small and startup business is where the overwhelming majority of jobs are for any community, Launch Greensboro and the other agencies want to put their main focus there.

“It’s not just the big fish that are making a big splash in our community and in our state. These entrepreneurs. And these small businesses are bringing great value, and I’m really proud of what our ecosystem and what Launch Greensboro provides to make these entrepreneurs and small businesses succeed…it all just circles back into our community and makes our community better,” she said.

See a couple of the small businesses Launch Greensboro has helped in this edition of the Buckley Report.