Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recruitment of Entrepreneurs, Day 2

By Madison Silvert, EDC Vice President for Entrepreneurship and High Tech Development

Chicago-- It is Day 2 here in Chicago.  Today I had the opportunity to attend a panel at the Chicago Graduate School of Business on what make entrepreneurs tick.  The panel consisted of multiple entrepreneurs, some of which were graduates of the Chicago GSB-- all very successful entrepreneurs.

Interestingly, what I learned very much validates the EDC placemaking initiative.  One of the panelists, Chris Gladwin, the founder of Cleversafe, talked about his latest venture and how he lured talent to his company.  In the software engineer field, a market where a top notch engineer can earn north of six figures a year, Chris was able to lure employees to work for him for nothing more than company equity.  The second year, he was able to pay them half of the market rate, and then eventually pay the market rate.  The idea was to ensure that his employees would be as passionate about his company as he was.  This approach for attracting talent is becoming more and more common, and it demands that, if an employee is going to take a risk by working for your company, that the employee has an attractive place to live.  It is much easier for Chris to use this tactic in a thriving area like Chicago, and would be much more difficult in a community that had limited lifestyle opportunities.  It is clear to me, now more than ever, how important the placemaking initiative is and how it ties not only to economic development, but to recruitment of industry.  Making Owensboro an attractive place to live makes it much easier for employers to attract talented people who value a quality of life that is safe, affordable and fun. 

Following the panel, I was able to meet with several Chicago GSB students about the unique support structure we have for them in Owensboro, and I was able to meet with one individual that is already interested in incubating a business here, much in the way Agent511 has chosen to do.  All in all, Chicago is proving to be fertile ground for entrepreneurial recruitment.

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