While traveling in Ireland recently, I was intrigued by an article in the Irish Times newspaper entitled, “Immigration policy must target entrepreneurship”. While one would first think this article is about Ireland targeting entrepreneurs through their immigration policy, a majority of the article referenced the environment for entrepreneurs in the United States. It stated that 52% of the start-ups in the Silicon Valley from 1995 to 2005 have been founded by immigrants. Also, 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by first-generation immigrants or their children.
Toward the end of the article was finally the point that Ireland should open the door to all of Europe and the rest of the world, inviting entrepreneurs from all over go there to start their businesses. While the United States is deciding what to do about immigration, other countries are poised to capitalize on our indecision and invite entrepreneurs in. Having an entrepreneurship strategy, and opening the door to skilled talent will boost economies wherever they land, according to entrepreneur turned academic, Vivek Wadhwa, who was interviewed for the article in the Irish Times.
But it’s not just immigrant entrepreneurs communities should be inviting in. It’s any and all entrepreneurs, resident or immigrant. A recent discussion on a Linked-In group asked the question, “What if communities recruited entrepreneurs the way they recruit auto parts plants? What would an ‘incentive package’ look like, one that would attract high-growth entrepreneurs?” Does your community have a strategy to attract entrepreneurs?
A great discussion ensued, including input from an entrepreneur who claims a customer base and privacy are what’s desired by entrepreneurs. While this is one person’s opinion he speaks from the experience of owning a startup and looking for a place to grow that business. While other entrepreneurs and inventors will tell you access to capital, technical assistance and low-cost barrier to entry are also keys to startup success. Does your community need an incubator to foster the entrepreneurial community? Incubator success is dependent upon the support from a board and staff that coach and mentor the tenants, as well as a solid funding model. Communities can be successful without a facility in which to grow businesses but results from the “incubator without walls” concept are more difficult to measure.
The entrepreneurship leg of the economic stool in your community is too important to disregard. Make sure your community is serving the innovators and entrepreneurs to the extent possible. Helpful online resources include: