Successful entrepreneurial communities share common characteristics

Entrepreneurship is recognized as a valuable economic development strategy. Support activities to develop your community’s entrepreneurial support network.

Small businesses have always been important to the local economy. There has been a recent focus in entrepreneurship due to:

  • The recognition of the value of local assets and talent
  • The confidence of better odds of success than traditional approaches
  • Basic response to regional and local job losses
  • Belief in a plan to positively affect the community’s future by growing the local economy

Small businesses also contribute to the local economy, as they typically purchase products and services locally for their business, and personally shop at other locally-owned businesses. There are additional benefits from encouraging entrepreneurship and locally-owned businesses. Locally-owned businesses may be less vulnerable to national economic downturns, although they often have fewer resources to sustain them through tough times.

Entrepreneurship development is fundamentally different from tra­ditional economic development. Local communities need to recognize how best to support entrepre­neurs. Local leaders must actively foster entrepreneurship in their community.

According to the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, there are six community entrepreneurship readiness factors, with related and often simple activities to build a community’s entrepreneurial support system.

Visible support of entrepreneurs

  • Write letters to the editor in local newspapers to promote entrepreneurship.
  • Encourage local economic development organizations to establish award programs for small businesses.
  • Ask the local newspaper to profile a small business owner each week.

Balanced business attraction

  • Advocate at public meetings of local economic development organizations, city council and county. government meetings about a balanced approach to economic development.
  • Propose local policies to modify existing ordinances to balance economic development.

Entrepreneurship programs

  • Start an entrepreneurs’ support network.
  • Survey community business owners to identify their service needs.
  • Create a directory of organizations that provide technical support for entrepreneurs.

Willingness to invest

  • Seek funding from government/organizations for local entrepreneurship programs.
  • Identify local institutions (e.g., banks, schools) willing to back/provide in-kind services.
  • Encourage high school students to visualize owning a small business.

Leadership team

  • Conduct a visioning trip to nearby communities known to support entrepreneurship.
  • Encourage positive promotion of entrepreneurship (e.g., speak to civic clubs, youth programs, etc.).

Beyond town borders

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are a significant component of the economy. In addition to providing goods and services for residents, entrepreneurs provide jobs, income and quality of life that make communities desirable places to live. Local communities can improve their entrepreneurial climate with easy to implement action steps.

Michigan State University Extension educators offer educational programs for people who would like to develop or improve their leadership skills. To contact an expert in your area, visit or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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