5 Key Factors in Evolution of New Orleans Entrepreneurship Ecosystem (Part I)
By: Patti Greene | Forbes | 04/03/2013
In the last few weeks I’ve been in the middle of a number of discussions, talks, debates and arguments about the entrepreneurship ecosystem and I have another one coming up towards the end of this month at IC2 in Austin. I keep pondering about what the ecosystem can be when it goes beyond the network of usual suspects of business support and resource providers. I’ve also been really interested in the question of how the ecosystem might evolve, so here is an example of ten years of general work in this area at one specific site.
The 2013 NOEW (New Orleans Entrepreneurship Week) recently included an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Summit. The idea was to have an invited group of stakeholders, all kinds of stakeholders, interactively explore how to continue building out the NOLA ecosystem. Mayor Landrieu first laid out a vision for NOLA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem 2018, the 300th anniversary of NOLA. The Mayor described a community of open opportunity and dedicated and organized resources. And did it in his imitable and energetic manner. After all, he is a mayor who speaks fluent entrepreneurship. I followed with a review of how far NOLA has come, not just from Katrina, but from a 2003 Roundtable that served as a call to arms around entrepreneurship. While there was the obvious and large disruption, the progress is quite striking. During that Roundtable the participants developed five organizing themes: Education, Finance, Communication, Resources, and Marketing. In learning more about the Roundtable, it became quickly obvious how much the approach had evolved, become more sophisticated, expansive, and inclusive.
Education – moving from a focus on university based curriculum and MBAs for intellectual capital to a recognition that the development of an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset needs to start in primary education (and for the teachers).
Finance – expanding the development of a portfolio of funding sources from micro-loans and matching funds to deep relationships ranging from bankers to many members of the venture capital community.
Communication – wanting to have special events to increase activity between entrepreneurs and the business community to realize and celebrate that entrepreneurs are the business community.
Resources – progressing from the desire for a resource guidebook for entrepreneurs to having that linked network of resources who actually talk to and plan with each other.
Marketing – The original plan was to grow the positive perception of entrepreneurship within the city and create an “expatriate” program to recruit New Oreleanians back home. Remember this was 2003. Hold this thought and read about NOLA as a brain magnet below.
Speaking of resources, when I was preparing for this talk I asked my friends at Idea Village for some of the latest stats around entrepreneurship. This is an example of be careful of what you ask for. Their immediate response was a list of 41 bullet points. Did I mention that this was just the first round of items received? Please join me in congratulating NOLA for these recognitions over the past few years:
Top City for Young Entrepreneurs (Under30CEO.com)
#1 Most Improved Metro for Business (WSJ)
Leads the USA in startups-per-capita (Fed Reserve Bank)
#2 State Start a Company (Tax Foundation + KPMG)
Selected : Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses
#5 destination in Top U.S. Cities (Travel + Leisure)
Best City for School Reform (Fordham Inst.)
#16 on the 2011 Best Cities for Families (Parenting.com)
#1 “America’s Biggest Brain Magnets” (Forbes)
#2 Best Big City for a Job (Forbes)
#2 Employment Market in the Country (Manpower)
#1 Workforce Training (Business Facilities)
Most Improved State in the Nation (Chief Executive)
Top Ten State – Overall Tax Competitiveness (Tax Foundation+ KPMG)
Fastest urban core growth (U.S. Census Bureau)
#1 Metro for IT Job Growth (Forbes)
#2 State for Econ Growth Potential (Bus. Facilities)
3rd Fastest Wage-growth in the USA (CareerBuilder.com)
Top 20 Strongest Performing economy (Brookings)
#4 Most Competitive State (New Geography)
Top 5 state – Best Business Climate (Bus. Facilities)
#1 Economic Growth Potential (Bus. Facilities)
This was just the first part of the Summit. The goal was to set a future goal, and then provide some historical context in order to get to current state. The next part of the Summit was on how to build towards 2018. Stay tuned.