Fertile Ground: Business leaders seek more support for high-growth entrepreneurs
By Bea Quirk CHARLOTTE — Charlotte is not a good place for gazelles. But business and government leaders are looking to change that. Gazelle is a term used to describe high-growth companies that expand quickly, hire a lot of people, make big profits and get sold in a short period of time. Many local leaders agree that the city does a pretty good job of nurturing the “lifestyle” companies that make up about 90 percent of the nation’s small businesses. These are started by people looking to make a living and generally focus on meeting local needs. “There are lots of training, networking and business advisory services for small businesses in Charlotte,” said Paul Wetenhall, president of UNC Charlotte’s Ben Craig Center business incubator. He cited, as examples, the small business networks at community colleges, the Small Business and Technology Development Center and a strong SCORE chapter. But at a time when the financial services industry — long the backbone of Charlotte’s economic success — has shrunk, and unemployment remains high, Charlotte’s leaders are beginning to realize that gazelles can also play an important — and badly-needed — role on revving the economy back up.