The pace of opening new businesses in the region remained stable in 2022

New business filings in the Cape Fear region continue at a steady pace after a post-pandemic flurry of activity.

North Carolina ended 2022 with the second-highest year of new business filings on record, followed by a record 2021. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall said filings last year were 70% higher than new business openings in 2019.

“While there was a slight moderation from the historical growth in new business filings in 2021, 2022 was still the second largest year on record by a wide margin,” she said. “It’s a testament to North Carolina’s entrepreneurial spirit that so many people across the state have shown such determination to innovate their way out of tough times or find exciting new opportunities.”

Amid the layoffs, losses, and life reassessments that began 2020, Marshall’s office was flooded with new business opening documents. In August, she described the trend as an “explosion” that “almost made her dizzy” in the office.

In Pender and Brunswick counties, new business filings in 2022 surpassed 2021 totals. Nearly 1,000 new businesses opened in Pender County, more than double the number that started in 2019. Brunswick County had nearly 1,900 filings, which also twice as much as before the pandemic.

New Hanover County was on par with statewide trends, with filings remaining strong but down slightly from 2021’s record totals. The district ended 2022 with 4,317 new filings, down 6% from the previous year but nearly double the number before the pandemic.

University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship director Heather McWhorter said the area’s business start-up rates reflect a national record movement.

“This is an incredible trend that we are witnessing,” she said. McWhorter attributed multiple reasons for the flurry of entrepreneurial activity.

“First, 1 in 3 people have wanted to start a business for a long time and used the pandemic as an initial step to create their business (extra time at home and the mentality of ‘if not now, then when?’ because ‘you don’t know what will happen tomorrow’ )”, she said. “Some people also did it because employers required them to go back to work so they could either stay at home with their job and the flexibility it allows, or go back to work with occasional hustle and hope to be able to work full-time for a days soon.”

Also, she said entrepreneurship in the Cape Fear region can be a good option for the tech workforce who normally have trouble finding work but want to live in the area. “For example, spouses who give up or people who threw caution to the wind and moved here and couldn’t find a real job and create their own business so they can stay,” she said.

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