Entrepreneurship is a major driver of economic growth, enabling the ability of a community to increase opportunities for its residents to secure well-paying jobs that do not go overseas or move to other regions in the country. Moreover, communities that have successfully established a culture of entrepreneurship also have a strong sense of place, where people want to live and work. Surprised?
Here's five reasons why:
Entrepreneurs and small business owners thrive in places where they can effortlessly network to spark ideas and support innovation. As communities historically had town squares, cafes, and small, locally-owned retail stores where people assembled and bumped into each other, entrepreneurship spaces and small business initiatives create a social environment that stimulates and nurtures creativity. Access to these spaces and amenities empowers individuals and groups to explore, design and build ideas, enhance and improve existing items, and more. Richard Florida writes in The Rise of the Creative Class, that "At bottom, entrepreneurship is a social process that stems from a broad set of social and cultural conditions." Entrepreneurs become the catalyst in the community for economic and creative development and attract new residents who want to be a part of this movement.
Creative workplaces and small businesses encourage the simulation of related and auxiliary businesses and initiatives that support these new ventures, fostering an interesting mix of skills and product development They create jobs, major startups, and success stories. They start humbly by hiring local residents as staff, but over time spreads to attracting and launching new businesses. In the current gig-economy, these spaces will allow individuals such as teachers and leaders of the maker community a place to hold courses and classes based on their skills and specializations. Artists, artisans, chefs, engineers, designers, and creatives gather here and often form partnerships and leverage networks with other maker communities, investors, and companies.
Makerspaces, collaborative spaces where people share creative tools and technology, in particular, become an instant destination. They attract global companies, small- and medium-sized enterprises, designers, knowledge-based centers, and other institutions to the area. They are hubs of knowledge and creativity where people come together to learn, create, and share ideas. Florida's research reveals quality of place is one of the primary factors in areas where highly talented, creative, and entrepreneurial people cluster. He defines quality of place in terms of three attributes: "what’s there – the buildings, the neighborhoods, the physical design; who’s there – the people, the diversity, the human energy; and what’s going on – the bustling street life, sidewalk cafes, restaurants and music venues, active outdoor recreation."
Entrepreneurial spaces attract millennials and post-millennials. These spaces become a potential hangout spot, an internship, and, once partnered with local colleges and universities, becomes a place for skills and apprenticeship training, creating a generation of skilled trained workers, stimulating job growth, and diversifying the economy. For more experienced workers, makerspaces and coworking spaces can become places where they teach and share their knowledge. Retirees can work on their side projects and volunteer to work with mentees on developing and growing small businesses and start-up companies. They are places that a attract a broad range of talented and creative people of all backgrounds to exercise their entrepreneurial muscle.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners often mentor and support others like themselves and their communities. Entrepreneurs and small business owners see possibilities and opportunities where others have not. They move away from tradition and obsolete systems and technologies, resulting in an improved quality of life and place--new jobs, skills, businesses, services, amenities, and more. Likewise, they are known to invest in their communities and support the further development and growth of amenities and initiatives that add to the quality of life and place in their communities.
What regions and cities with strong entrepreneurial cultures have in common is diverse populations, spaces for innovation and creativity, amenities such as restaurants, retail, and parks and recreation spaces---a strong sense of place, where people want to live and work. In order for cities and regions to establish a culture of entrepreneurship, they will need to set in place spaces, amenities, and policies that will attract people and in which creativity and entrepreneurship can thrive.