Entrepreneur Ready Community Certification
Historically rural Oklahoma communities have relied on the recruitment of large businesses to provide jobs and economic stability. However, a growing number of rural communities have realized that investment of their resources in traditional economic development strategies is not producing strong results. Only a limited number of large economic development projects materialize each year and only a handful of communities will be successful in winning these projects, regardless of the resources they commit. Even if the community is lucky enough to attract these deals there is no guarantee a company will stay.
Over the past few years these communities have seen a number of large firms (especially manufacturing) close their doors leaving a wave of unemployment rippling in the wake. Economic developers in cities and towns across Oklahoma now realize they must not only attract industry but also promote sustainable job growth through entrepreneurial development.
Economic gardening embraces strategies to grow existing businesses in a community. By supporting new entrepreneurs and smaller established companies a community is planting the seeds for a stronger economy.
Economic gardening is an innovative entrepreneur-centered economic growth strategy that offers balance to the traditional economic practice of business recruitment." Pioneered by Chris Gibbons in the City of Littleton, Colorado, economic gardening has emerged as a prototype for economic developers looking for additional ways to generate truly sustainable economic growth for their communities.
The three basic elements of gardening are:
Six-Step Process to Success
Rogers State University can help rural communities learn how to implement these elements through the Entrepreneur Ready Community certification. This six-step process helps communities gather information, raise awareness and create more favorable environments for small businesses in their areas. Key steps to earning the designation include establishing a leadership committee, increasing community awareness and support, enhancing relationships with state and federal resources, mapping local assets and surveying local entrepreneurs. These community leaders work with the RSU Innovation Center and partnering agencies that have stakes in small-business development. The Entrepreneur Ready Community program helps communities develop environments in which entrepreneurs and small businesses can flourish.