Getting serious about downtown entrepreneurship

Don Macke at the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship just sent out a summary of takeaways from an Economic Development Survey undertaken by the National League of Cities and the International County/City Management Association (ICMA). 

The Center, an initiative of the Rural Policy Research Intsitiute (RUPRI)consistently puts out substantive resources for supporting entrepreneurial development.  Sign up here for their newsletter.

The summary aligns with our ongoing preparations for  “Cultivating and Entreprenurial Downtown,” the Virginia Main Street Toolkit training set for July 22 and 23 in Franklin. Here are Don’s takeaways:

1.  Too many communities do not really have an economic development strategy that they are aggressively supporting.

2.  The dominant focus of economic development is still business attraction and industrial development.  Serious support of entrepreneur-focused economic development is very limited.

3.   Economic development efforts continue to be fractured across local governments, chambers, development corporations, main street programs, tourism groups and the like.  Comprehensive and integrated efforts are still too rare despite the regionally-focused development seen in competing nations.

4.   There are exceptions and a growing number of communities that are very committed to economic development, investing aggressively and smartly, and beginning to really focus on entrepreneurs as a core strategy to grow their economies. 

There’s more to think about in the report, and at the July training, we’ll spend a day and a half addressing strategies that can help you make your community an exception.