Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Western Carolina University's Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) facilitates the development of our region's best ideas into commercial businesses. Using a holistic approach, we help entrepreneurs create and sustain vibrant businesses that generate jobs, grow our region's economy and create opportunities that retain high potential entrepreneurs, talent and intellect in our region.

We educate and engage WCU's students, faculty, and staff to encourage business development and innovation in their chosen discipline area. We coordinate resources for new venture creation, product development, business expansion, commercialization, technology transfer, and access to capital funding so that regional schools, colleges and programs can benefit from business creation.

Core Values & Aims

  • Holistic approach to advancing entrepreneurship
  • Incorporate entrepreneurship and commercialization concepts into curriculum
  • Raise awareness of opportunities to create businesses
  • Actively solicit, foster, support and integrate opportunities for student internships
  • Conduct fundraising and development for the CEI
  • Serve as a resource for entrepreneurial businesses
  • Assist in the development and protection of intellectual property
  • Work with regional high schools, technical schools and community colleges to build and foster "feeder programs"
  • Provide opportunities for business internships (paid and unpaid)
  • Provide training and encouragement for the development of ethical business attitudes and practices

From the Director

The WCU College of Business promotes and facilitates entrepreneurial activity in the WNC region. Our focus is on start-ups – helping students, faculty, and local entrepreneurs turn ideas into commercially feasible businesses. In addition, the Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) is an affiliated LLC for the University. The College of Business operates the CEI to facilitate public private partnerships that bring together business owners, faculty, and students who have a desire to grow and idea into a business. We also work closely with the Small Business Technology and Development Center (SBTDC), WCU's Rapid Prototype Center, and the Small Business Center at AB-Tech (Enka) to provide resources and support for existing businesses.

Have a business idea? We can provide a student team to assist you with marketing research and production of a business plan. Need capital to get your venture moving? We are forming an angel investor group to meet the needs of local entrepreneurs. Have you invented something? We can help with a review of prior art to advise you about its patentability. We have contacts with faculty, state government, and regional experts to help get your venture off the ground. Contact the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation to discuss your needs and how we may assist you.

Dr. Ed Wright, Director Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programs and Activities, Professor
315C Forsyth Building
Cullowhee, NC 28723

CEI Board of Advisors

Cathy Arrington, Insight Marketing, Sylva, NC

Wendy Banks, Carolina Management Team, Enka, NC

Tim Barrett, Blueprints for Business, Inc., Asheville, NC

Michael Bradshaw, banking & business consultant, Denver, NC

Louis E. Buck, Ph.D., retired executive, Travelers Rest, NC

Wendy Cagle, SBTDC, Cullowhee, NC

Leighton Cubbage, Serrus Capital Partners, Inc., Greenville, SC

Kenneth Flynt, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

Dr. Patrick Gardner, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

Murray Goldman, consultant/investor, Sandy Springs, GA

Charlie Grubb, SE Sports& Entertainment, Inc., Winston-Salem, NC

Tim Janke, SBTDC, Greensboro, NC

Tony Johnson, WCU Millenial Campus, Cullowhee, NC

David Lilly, Lilly Consulting Group, Sylva, NC

Tom Muncy, Asheville Business Consultants, Asheville, NC

David Reeves, The Alternative Board, Hendersonville, NC

Ryan Sherby, Region A, Sylva, NC

Jill Sparks, A-B Tech, Asheville, NC

Ed Wright, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC

Entrepreneurial Support and Assistance in Western North Carolina

WCU Corporation for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI)
Contact: Dr. Ed Wright – Director, Programs and Activities for Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Phone: 828-278-8CEI

WCU Rapid Prototype Center
Contact: Dr. Pat Gardner - Director, Center for Rapid Product Realization
Phone: 828-227-2435
Office Address: CAT 209 WCU Rapid Prototype Center Website

Small Business Centers Network at NC Community Colleges
Southwestern Community College
Director: Tiffany Henry
Phone: 828.339.4211

Haywood Community College
Director: Kathryn M Gould
Phone: 828.627.4512

AB Tech
Director: Jill Sparks
Phone: 828.398.7949

North Carolina Small Business Centers Website

Mountain Bizworks
Contact: Patrick Fitzsimmons, Executive Director
Phone: 828.253.2834, Ext. 12
Mountain Bizworks Website

Regional Angel Investors Group
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programs and Activities is supporting the formation of a new regional angel investor group with a focus on providing capital funding for regional start-up ventures. Interested parties should contact Ed Wright (, Ken Flynt (, or Tim Barrett ( for information.

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