Why Entrepreneurship Development?

What We Learned

Traditionally, when you hear people talking about economic development they are equating it with industrial recruitment. It’s what economic development professionals and community leaders have done, what they’re familiar with, what they have the tools for…regardless of how successful this approach has been in the past. So, when you start to talk about entrepreneurship development – growing your economy by supporting your “homegrown” entrepreneurs – you’re going to need to make the case for why this change in strategy is important.

Making the case is not always easy. Entrepreneurship is a long-term strategy. An elected official who invests in entrepreneurship today may not see many results by the time she or he is running for re-election. We’re not very patient when it comes to growing our economy – everybody wants to hit that homerun and create 100 jobs with one swing. Everybody wants a ribbon-cutting. Entrepreneurship is about creating jobs in ones and threes and five’s – impacts that add up over time.

So, what can you say when people in your community ask “why entrepreneurship development?”

  • Entrepreneurs turn opportunities into business ventures. They are important economic development assets in your communities.
  • Entrepreneurs create jobs. According to research supported by the Kauffman Foundation, more than one-third of job growth is due to new businesses. Firms less than 5 years old accounted for ALL net job growth from 1980-2005.
  • Entrepreneurs give back. They reinvest in the community through charitable giving, community support, leadership and in many other ways.

One resource that makes the case for entrepreneurship in a clear way, with particular emphasis on elected officials, is Entrepreneurship – A Candidate’s Guide. Since community leaders often want to learn from other communities that are encouraging entrepreneurship and the success they are having, we recommend Energizing an Entrepreneurial Economy – A Guide for County Leaders. This publication explores what it means to become an entrepreneurial community and how to decide if you’re “ready” for entrepreneurship.

Why Entrepreneurship Development?