Switch to Full View

 Entrepreneurship-led Economic Development

Add your name to our email list to stay up to date on our new training courses and credential.

Already work with or support entrepreneurs in your community?

Take our quick survey so we can better understand the needs and challenges of those involved in ecosystem building.

Throughout history, entrepreneurs and small businesses have often been the driving force behind economic recovery, job creation, and regional economic growth providing stability in the face of disruption and change. The 2019 Small Business Profile by the U.S Small Business Administration, reported that small businesses employed 47.3 percent of the nation’s private total workforce in 2016. 

Entrepreneurship and small business development have been core strategies for forward-thinking and vibrant economic development organizations for many years in both urban and rural communities. Yet, communities and economic development professionals don’t always know how to go about designing programs, aligning resources and fostering local business owners and entrepreneurs in a way that supports the overall economic and social growth in the region. 

In 2020, with support from the Kauffman Foundation, IEDC and our partner UMKC SourceLink will develop a set of training courses and credential for professionals working in entrepreneurship-led economic development. These new training programs will provide the professional knowledge, skills, and strategies that are essential for supporting entrepreneurs and building entrepreneurial communities.  

Who would benefit from this training? 

In short, anyone who works with entrepreneurs. This includes:

  • Entrepreneurship Support Organizations
  • Economic Development Organizations
  • Universities
  • Community colleges
  • Small Business Development Councils (SBDCs)
  • Women's Business Centers
  • Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
  • Youth entrepreneurship programs
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • Small Business Administration officials
  • Incubators
  • Accelerators
  • Downtown associations
  • Business improvement districts
  • Community Development Finance Institutions 
  • Community / Neighborhood Development Organizations
  • Science Park 
  • Banks 
  • Those who train or educate entrepreneurs 
  • Venture Capitalists / Angel Investors

Entrepreneurship Support Resources 


Creating an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Webinar (click to access recording here) 

In recent years, entrepreneurial development has become a job creation strategy utilized more and more by economic development organizations. With so many resources for entrepreneurs, is your community connecting these resources to create an environment that supports small business owners? Developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem takes identifying all resources and stakeholders, connecting them and filling the gaps you see in your network. Learn about the benefits, challenges and opportunities of creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem in your community at this free webinar.

One Size Does Not Fit All  (click to access recording here) 

Far too often, communities think that having one or two programs to support entrepreneurs is sufficient. But in reality, each stage and type of business has unique challenges and opportunities. Economic developers and entrepreneurship support organizations need to understand the different types and stages of small business, as well as their needs in order to successfully support entrepreneurship in their community.

Learn about microenterprises, main street businesses, second stage companies, and innovation-led businesses, as well as what you need to know to support them in your region, at this free webinar!


Entrepreneurship News/Updates

Stage two companies—those with 10 to 100 employees and $1 million to $50 million in sales—create more jobs than firms of any other type. Economic Gardening is an approach designed to give them the strategic assistance they need to overcome barriers to growth.

Rural communities can take from the philosophy of economic gardening in cultivating growth businesses by offering technical and marketing resources, helping them network with their peers and establishing regional partnerships. 

Rural practitioners have spearheaded a focus on entrepreneurship-led economic development that demonstrates the value of investing time and resources in growth-oriented companies as the most effective path to creating jobs in areas with lower population densities.

The opportunity to become an entrepreneur is not equally accessible to everyone. Lack of capital investment and network connections leave African-Americans, Latinos, people of color and women starting businesses at lower rates, have lower profits, and are less likely to have additional employees.

Rather than pursuing corporate giants, economic developers should focus their efforts on supporting small businesses, the real engine of job growth.

A new SBA rule will ease eligibility requirements for the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program to address long standing uncertainty from small businesses. 

Starting in 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration will allow governors to submit one petition per year to designate HUBZone status to certain rural areas facing high unemployment.

A key component to supporting female entrepreneurs is increasing their access to social capital, or support networks, an underappreciated factor for success just as important as learning the right skills and securing access to credit.

With better access to export markets, small businesses could increase U.S. GDP by $81 billion and add 900,000 jobs.

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation 

Focused on entrepreneurship and education, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo., and is among the largest private foundations in the United States. The Kauffman Foundation strives to have a national impact and global reach by working together with communities around the country to create opportunities and connect people to the tools they need to shape their futures and be successful.