Nurturing Entrepreneurship Grows Jobs

December 23, 2013

The Kansas City Fed seeks to help communities understand the potential for entrepreneurship-based economic development.


Nurturing entrepreneurship benefits communities.

Many rural and urban communities in the Tenth District face economic challenges.         

The Kansas City Fed seeks to assist organizations that serve these communities by providing information on entrepreneurship-based economic development, also known as “grow your own” economic development.

The Kansas City Fed presented a Grow Your Own webinar on Dec. 4 to provide more information about entrepreneurship-based economic development and how it is contributing to the growth of new businesses and jobs.

The webinar featured Chris Gibbons, founder of the National Center for Economic Gardening, which is sponsored by the Edward Lowe Foundation in Cassopolis, Mich.; Don Macke, director of the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship in Lincoln, Neb.; and Elizabeth Isele, a co-founder of and a senior fellow in social innovation at Babson College in Babson Park, Mass.

Gibbons was instrumental in developing the concept of economic gardening in the late 1980s in Littleton, Colo. He said there are now 34 economic gardening programs in 24 states that provide technical and financial support to stage-two companies, which have 10 to 99 employees and $1million or more in revenue.

Macke said communities that develop an infrastructure, culture and leadership that encourage and support entrepreneurship increase their chances of growing new businesses, creating jobs and slowing population decline, especially among youth who are bringing their technical savvy back to rural areas.

Elizabeth Isele, a national specialist on senior entrepreneurship, cited research showing that one of the largest groups of Americans starting businesses is comprised of people between the ages of 55 and 64. She said the size, talent and capacity of this group has a large impact on the nation’s economic recovery.

Benefitting communities

Supporting small business growth benefits both rural and urban communities. Small businesses account for as much as 65 percent of all net new jobs, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy.

Many rural communities find that economic development models that assist small businesses also result in strong incentives that retain, and even attract, young professionals, which reduces population attrition.

Supporting small business growth also can reduce blight and the perception of crime in urban areas and increase economic opportunities that attract younger individuals who might choose to live elsewhere.

More information about small-business development and “grow your own” strategies is available at the Kansas City Fed’s Economic and Small Business Development website.