What supports can a municipality provide to encourage innovation and business start-ups?
That was one of the listener questions when I was a guest recently on the Orton Family Foundation’s Heart and Soul Talks.
Municipalities and local officials feel responsible for developing their local economy. Too often, economic development takes the same old form of recruiting outside companies or chains, and giving them incentives to drain money and resources out of the local community. So if you need a good first step to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship inside your town, stop spending your money developing someone else’s businesses.
Use the Idea Friendly Framework to develop your local businesses:
1) Take Small Steps: cut down barriers to entry. Make it easier to get through the town-imposed process to get into business. Eliminate permits, requirements and licenses as much as possible. Declare a bureaucracy-free zone downtown for three months and just see what happens.
2) Build Connections: local officials build large networks across the state. Use your network to support your local businesses by bringing in your connections and resources from outside the community. Facilitate local connections through networking events for locals and across different groups in town.
3) Gather Your Crowd: be an advocate for local business. Promote the actions you’ve taken to be more open and supportive to new businesses. Issue awards and proclamations to draw public attention to local businesses. Share information freely about local business-development events no matter who puts them on. Use utility bills to get the word out.
Do you have an example of a municipality that has been active in supporting innovation and startups? Tell us about it in the comments, or if you’re reading by email, hit reply and tell me.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.