History & Impact

The Institute was founded in 1986 as the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development with a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and N.C. Association of Minority Businesses to diversify North Carolina’s business base as a strategy for expanding economic opportunity.

Business, government and community leaders recognized then that globalization, changing demographics and technology was changing the game, replacing traditional industries and markets with new ones that required different skills and strategies for business success.

Engaging significant untapped segments of the population – racial minorities, women, people with disabilities, rural residents and others – became a business and economic imperative. The Institute would lead the way.

Today, nearly 30 years later, the Institute remains the only organization of its kind in the country focused on business and economic growth through effective business diversity. North Carolina's model of collaboration and its exceptional ecosystem are recognized as a model by other states and regions.

The Institute continues to work with small businesses, large multinational corporations, local governments and state leaders to open doors of opportunity and create an environment where busineses of all kinds grow and thrive.



"We can speak of high ideals, but the world listens more readily to the bottom line. The Institute's bottom line is jobs, expanded tax bases and a more vibrant marketplace through diversity." 

—Will Mann, Wells Fargo