In these tough economic times when communities are struggling to retain existing businesses and to prevent more storefronts from closing up, attracting new businesses that will create new job opportunities is extremely challenging. Many communities are working hard to overcome these ills by creating an environment that fosters entrepreneurship. Research has shown that small businesses are the leading job creators in this slow recovery.
In his article titled “Fostering entrepreneurialism: Making economic gardening work downtown,” Chuck Eckenstahler lists seven things to consider when developing an “economic gardening strategy.”
1. Help surmount the hurdles – Provide assistance with navigating through and completing legal and regulatory requirements of establishing or expanding new businesses.
2. Host entrepreneurial cafes – For many new entrepreneurs, traditional physical space is not as important as it once was. Providing a ‘space’ (bricks and mortar or cyber) where entrepreneurs can network and share ideas, if applicable to the locality, should be part of the strategy.
3. Carve out opportunities within the economic landscape – It is important for both the entrepreneur, as well as the host community, to identify the existing supply and unmet demand of retail goods and services. This typically lies on the shoulder of the entrepreneur, however, Eckenstahler and many economic development practitioners would argue that to ensure successes, this should be a shared responsibility.
4. Raise capital to create a Shark Tank – Many businesses fail due to lack of capital. “Community economic development strategies may require assembling social venture capitalists,” or other creative financing mechanisms like crowdfunding.
5. Support population diversity – “Create support programs that celebrate population diversity and embrace groups that have a high propensity to form new businesses.”
6. Create a “Match-up” marketplace – Create opportunities to match the “entrepreneurs’ needs with available support capacities.”
7. Celebrate success – Create a media campaign that regularly highlights new business formations and promotes the locality/region as one that supports new business startups.
“Adding some or all of these suggestions to your economic gardening strategy will enrich the soil for planting the seeds of new business.”