We all know the foundation of local economic development as business retention, expansion and attraction. But an exciting new dimension to our traditional definition of economic development is “business creation.” What we mean is assisting entrepreneurs in our communities. What are we doing to engage and support the home-based businesses, the small one- and two-person shops, the folks who are baking, tinkering, consulting, and landscaping—who are experts in their skill but perhaps don’t know much about how to set up and grow a business.
We are seeing communities take cool and creative measures to provide support to this growing business sector. Some are providing co-working space, some are providing “office hours” to help early-stage entrepreneurs navigate the process of forming a business. Some are providing legal counsel, IT support, accounting, and bookkeeping. Helping individuals go from an idea to a company is an exciting pursuit and one that more and more municipalities are realizing is critical to their local economy.
I encourage you to think about ways you can help “create” business in your town or city. A few suggestions:
- Hold an event that brings entrepreneurs together for networking with one another and with town leaders. Have a speaker or a panel focused on how to start a small business or financial resources aimed at home-based businesses.
- Ask local attorneys, accountants, or IT experts to donate a few hours a month for entrepreneurs to ask questions about starting up.
- Ask an owner of an empty storefront if they would be willing to use the space for a co-working center that provides meeting rooms, a copier, and other office-type resources that startups often need but can’t afford on their own.
- Meet with the entrepreneurs in your community to ask them about their goals, how/when they plan to expand and then help them find the right space in your community that meets their growing business needs.
Contact me to brainstorm ways to help support new businesses in your community.
About the Author
Courtney Hendricson is Vice President of Municipal Services at the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC).
Prior to joining CERC, Courtney served as Assistant Town Manager in Enfield, CT and as Economic Development Director in Farmington, CT. She also was the director of community development for Connecticut Main Street Center.
Courtney currently serves as board president of the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) and immediate past president of the Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW CT). She is past chair of MetroHartford Alliance’s Regional Economic Development Forum, past co-chair of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) P3 Retail Program in Connecticut, and a graduate of Leadership Greater Hartford’s QUEST leadership