Friday, September 28, 2007

Grow the Future- Part 1: Home Grown Strategy to Make Owensboro Place “Where Entrepreneurs Grow”

At the August Rooster Booster Breakfast the EDC and Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new partnership working to make Owensboro a place “Where Entrepreneurs Grow.” The partnership includes agencies, schools, colleges, and economic development organizations called “Grow the Future” to support homegrown high growth companies competing in a global marketplace. The partnership is the result of months of planning and discussion with local entrepreneurs about the benefits and barriers to doing business in the region. The Partnership will focus efforts on four broad areas:
  1. Providing supports for entrepreneurs and innovation
  2. Implementing strategies to develop and attract talent to the region
  3. Focusing on improved amenities and quality of life that will attract talent
  4. Organizing community seed capital and assets to support business start-up.

To remain competitive Owensboro must think differently about how to foster sustained economic growth in these ultra-competitive times. Regions like Owensboro cannot count on business recruitment or outside investment as the only means for economic growth in the future. In today’s worldwide marketplace, competition no longer comes just from the business next door or county down the road. Competition can come from any person, anywhere on the globe with a good education, a good idea, and a good internet connection. For decades this region has pinned hopes for economic prosperity on landing the big one--on recruiting the big industry which will offer lots and lots of jobs. This model was quite effective, until globalization. Unfortunately, in recent years it has led to slow job growth, declining business start-ups, a reduction in the percentage of young adults in our population, a decline in the percentage of citizens with four-year college degrees, and ultimately, the feeling of powerlessness. It's time to take control of our destiny and to stop relying on Frankfort, or Washington, or a corporate CEO 2,000 miles away to ignite our economy! Greater Owensboro must give equal weight to the attraction, development and retention of a young professionals and entrepreneurs as has been given to the attraction of new companies. To do this the community will need a strategy to both develop and recruit and nurture the development of innovation and entrepreneurship. The best long-term strategy in light of the evolving economy is to build on the talent and skills already existing in the region through a homegrown strategy to support people with dreams of starting new businesses or expand existing businesses. Make no mistake; the EDC is not backing away from working to attract companies to locate in Owensboro. We will continue to work with the state and others to recruit and try to attract outside investors to our region. The recruit and grow strategies must work together—the more the region grows through our entrepreneurial efforts, the more companies and investment we can successfully recruit.

Next week: Part 2- Emerging Ventures Center for Innovation To read more about economic development strategies based on entrepreneurship please go to the following links: Economic gardening; National Assessment of Entrepreneurship; Economic Development Administration; the Future of Economic Development Today

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