I am very much a product of the Rust Belt. I grew up in a small town outside of Cleveland, where my father and grandfather ran a small paint factory. As a result of being where I was when I was, I got to have a front row seat for the first convulsions of the collapse of the traditional manufacturing economy. By the time I was in middle school, the market for a jack-of-all-trades paint manufacturer had collapsed, and my father was out of work for most of three years. Thankfully, I had good teaching and encouragement and went to a good college. Since then I have had three or four careers, depending on how you want to count. I started out as an English teacher, which gave me a skill set for managing and guiding groups of people to find answers and meaning for themselves, then I did historic preservation, which morphed into community planning, which morphed into economic development planning.
Woo hoo recruiting, *sigh* retainAll focused individual project/company/buildingOK for industrial era. But we are not in 20th century industrial era anymore. And that means that this model doesn’t fit… you very well.
All focused individual project/company/buildingOK for industrial era. But we are not in 20th century industrial era anymore. I don’t need to tell you about that, but one interesting piece: the average size of business establishment is declining… and has been declining for decades. Most recent numbers show it down to 15, from over 17 in 2000. Statistically, that’s a significant drop in 10 years. Meanwhile, the number of self-employed and micro-establishments continues to climb, and to varying degrees that crosses all business sectors. And self employed up 14% since 2000. And that means that this model doesn’t fit either your establishment, or your business sector, or your community very well. This is part of why community agencies face increasing scrutiny over conventional economic development incenvtives -- not just cash awards and tax incentives, but increasingly even staples like advertisements and displays at the annual International Shopping Center Association of America. That varies by region, with the south tending to still rely a little more on this overall, but the trend is definitely in this direction. That’s not just a factor of cost or tight budgets…it’s an increasing realization of the limited return on investment for the community as a whole. Econ dev isn’t just about winning jobs… it’s about building the community’s quality of life by improving its long-term economic health and resilience. As that perspective shifts, you all have more and more to offer your local communities. But their existing systems are probably not set up to do what you need. Just like you have had to shift your paradigm, they need to shift as well. But you can help make it happen – and the ROI both for you and for your community will be substantial.
I’m not the first one to come up with the ecosystem concept – since I have spent so many years working in that local government context as a consultant, I . Gradually dawned on me that we in local government and community dev world were going at this wrong.
a community is not a set of separate, unrelated systems, but an ecosystem. What development we permit, what happens to our downtowns and our entrance corridors, where we spend our economic development money, doesn’t just affect that one thing – it affects everything. We create a lot of those unintended consequences for our communities simply by not thinking beyond our own department walls.Multiplicity of ecosystems. Move between city and region and internationalEconomic development, for example, isn’t really about just increasing the number of businesses – the point of economic development efforts is to make sure that the local economy is doing what it needs to be doing to support the health of the overall system. Not every job and every employer necessarily does that, and if we throw our resources at jobs and employers that don’t support the overall health of the economic system, the value of what we are doing is hard to prove. We know that in our guts. But we forget that in practice – especially those of us who have responsibility for a specific part of the system. We forget how easy it is for the choices that we make for our part of the machine to throw the rest of it out of whack. We need to pick up our eyes and think in terms of impacts on the whole system, not just on our department’s metrics or our nonprofit’s favorite project. Two key tools to do this: scenario development and relationship mapping – critical ways to unravel these interdependencies. Need to do it consciously
Problem is, we don’t foster this anymore. We have micros. We have independents. We have competitors. We are atomized, and that means We have minimal capacity and no slack in the system.
We need to deal with this.So what can we as communities – local governments, nonprofits, etc – do to grown healthy small business ecosystemsBabson – culture. “People need to see what’s possible”Address debate over role. Pragmatically, not a lot of others can do this. Role for public and private
Build tool setsRunning business1099sRetirement (over 30% self eployed are over 55)Founder Institute – “avoid rookie mistakes”Annapolis storyNavigating local gmtPermittingCoworking space ResourcesMeeting spaceGet started space – role of public markets. Not a subsidy – just a small space. Now sometimes seeing pop up spaces or temporary. All same idea – might require subsidy, or might require just an OK. Knowing what’s out there: Babson: “Entrepreneurs and others who assess, catalog and disseminate information on the existing organizations and resources within a space provide a clear picture of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and a platform for enabligingpeple to easily see and access these myriad resources. In the process, entrepreneurs and others stakeholders in the system learn to be collaborative, transparent and proactive in growing their own unique ecosystem.
Retirement (over 30% self eployed are over 55)
Coworking. Third places.Hsieh: when you’re in a city, the bar or the restaurant becomes an extended conference room.
Knit the network – knitting might be a good example3 levelsBuying and sellingPeer learningSupportInclcrowdfunding but don’t overkill – not gonna come from old accustomed sources, public or private. microloanImportance of peer support to entrepr success – Anthony tjan, Cue Ball VC “Hearts Smarts, Guts and Luck:Capacity flexHarness to Capacity
Lesa Mitchell, vp innovation and networks Ewing Marion Kauffman fdn. Once entrepreneurs have a business idea, networks are the most important tools they have for Kauffman: iStart is a global online resource for business competitions that also provides a place for aspiriring and early state entrepreneurs to build a network of resources, get constructive feedback and connect with potential partners. Anyone can… scan thousands of business concepts that cover everything from internet startups to consumer goods and green innovations.
Build awareness of interdependenceNeed each other – not just in our cluster, but across everything, since quality of life drives ability to get talent. Babson: “While different communities have different needs, there is valueplaced in some degree of cross-pollination and the strongest ecosystems support healthy connections across a variety of communities.” Responsible to each otherCommunication – highlight, remindGet more specific
Creating an Small Business Ecosystem
Creating a Small Business Ecosystem Della G. Rucker, AICP, CEcD The Wise Economy Workshop
Babson:“Entrepreneurs and others who assess, catalog and disseminate information on the existingorganizations and resources within a space provide a clear picture of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem and a platform for enabling people to easily see and access these myriad resources. Inthe process, entrepreneurs and others stakeholdersin the system learn to be collaborative, transparent and proactive in growing their own unique ecosystem.”
More Babson: “While different communities have different needs, there is value placed in some degree of cross-pollinationand the strongest ecosystems supporthealthy connections across a variety of communities.”
Thank you! Della G. Rucker, AICP, CEcD The Wise Economy Workshop www.wiseeconomy.com Della.firstname.lastname@example.org @dellarucker Della Rucker aicp cecd Della Rucker