By Madison Silvert, EDC Vice President for Entrepreneurship and High Tech Development
CHICAGO--A key to the future economic vitality of our region is entrepreneurship. Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs and account for roughly half of the country's workforce. (see http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/smallbusiness/)
As part of my charge as EDC Vice President, it is my responsibility to recruit talent, in much the way we have traditionally recruited manufacturing-based businesses. The idea is to find people who are willing to start their new business in Owensboro.
Today is part of a two day trip for me to the Chicago Graduate School of Business where I hope to find some young entrepreneurs willing to leave the big city behind and start their new business in Owensboro. Already, Jay Malin of Agent511 has announced (http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/Story/venture-clubm28) that he will be using Owensboro as the city in which to incubate his exciting text message marketing company, started with Owensboro native, Ankur Gopal. I met with Jay today to discuss any strategic needs he might have as the company begins to roll out its service in the Owensboro area.
Hopefully others like Jay will realize the benefit of utilizing the untapped market in our area, choosing it over the more saturated markets of Chicago, New York or Los Angeles. A trip to the Chicago Graduate School of Business proved informative, as I attended a classroom panel of entrepreneurs who had started everything from a consulting firm to a financial software company. Members of the class had the opportunity to speak with me about the excellent support available to entrepreneurs in Kentucky and Owensboro, specifically. I was able to espouse the benefits of locating in a city that provides access to startup capital through the city's eMerging Ventures Fund and the state's Kentucky Enterprise Fund, the counseling and mentoring support available through the EDC, Murray State's Small Business Development Center, and the Service Corps of Retired Executives, as well as access to angel investors through the Owensboro Venture Club. It was clear to me that these young entrepreneurs were impressed with the level of support that is available to them in Owensboro, and I will hopefully be hearing from some of them soon.
Tomorrow I will head back to the University of Chicago, and I hope to visit some business accelerators in Chicago to learn some practices that might translate well to our region.