Heather McWhorter Named Interim Director of Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Heather McWhorter has been appointed interim director of UNCW’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, effective Aug. 16. The CIE offers programs, services and activities to promote and support entrepreneurship and small business innovation in southeastern North Carolina.  

McWhorter will also continue her leadership as the regional center director of the Small Business and Technology Development Center. The SBTDC serves the region with free and confidential assistance to help businesses start, grow and prosper.  

“Heather and the SBTDC have been strong collaborators with CIE, so she has intimate knowledge of many of the existing CIE initiatives and programs,” said Stuart R. Borrett, UNCW associate provost for research and innovation. “She also brings valuable engineering expertise and thinking to the role. I am confident that her leadership will enable the CIE to continue to serve as a force to enable the success of entrepreneurs and as a leader of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.” 

McWhorter holds a B.S. in chemical engineering and an M.S. in energy and mineral engineering from Penn State University; and a Professional Engineer (PE) license in environmental engineering. 

Among her most recent accomplishments, McWhorter created a new statewide SBTDC Business Launch Initiative, a six-member team that helps people create new businesses while spurring the NC tech economy. 

Her passion for empowering individuals and communities extends to her work as a volunteer and CIE executive mentor, advising UNCW students and Cape Fear region entrepreneurs from the early stages of their ventures to funding, launching and sustaining their startups.  

“I am honored to be able to maintain the momentum that CIE Director Diane Durance has built in serving entrepreneurs and the community until the next CIE director is named,” said McWhorter. “CIE has many exciting initiatives that support entrepreneurship and innovation, from a team-based mentoring group with 140 volunteers to the Chancellor’s High School Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition to the first ‘All Blue’ Week being planned to celebrate the blue economy.” 

Previously, McWhorter worked at Penn State for 17 years at the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) as the director and as an environmental consultant; as the director of the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program (PennTAP); and as the director of Penn State Entrepreneurship and Economic Development Outreach Initiatives. She was involved in the creation of programs such as Penn State Global Entrepreneurship Week, The Investment and TechCelerator.  

Prior to Penn State, Heather was a military contractor where she facilitated collaborative pollution prevention innovation work between the military branches and NASA.  

UNCW plans to conduct a national search for a permanent director.

--  Krissy Vick