The Pembroke native and Lumbee Indian, Jim Thomas, and wife, Sally Thomas, are the founders of the Thomas Family Center for Entrepreneurship, established in 2006. Thomas gave the largest gift in the history of UNCP which helped fund this endowed chair for entrepreneurship. Thomas’ plan for the center was to serve as a resource for existing and prospective businesses in Pembroke and surrounding areas, helping people to obtain information and resources that will help them maintain and grow a business. It will support an undergraduate course in entrepreneurship, allowing students to pursue education that would provide them with a professional level of business expertise. It will support additional opportunities in graduate education that could include elective courses in entrepreneurship or a certificate program in entrepreneurship. Thomas wanted to extend entrepreneurship education outside the classroom by allowing students to work with local entrepreneurs on critical business challenges. At the same time, his idea helped local businesses benefit from the knowledge and advice provided. Thomas attended night school and law school, also followed by a job as a tax attorney for the Internal Revenue Service. Thomas started a private practice in tax law. Thomas was also a Los Angeles real estate developer. Thomas Properties owns real estate across the U.S. Thomas said his start into real estate was completely accidental, “absolutely terrifying” but extremely gratifying. Thomas offers career advice to future entrepreneurs at UNCP’s School of Business. In addition to his law career and real estate, Thomas is the former owner of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Thomas is one of the most successful businessmen in his tribe’s history.
Thomas Properties Group, Inc.