It is widely recognized that small firms with growth potential can be significant job creators in a local economy. Yet, the role of local governments in supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses is not always clear. Small firms, particularly those with a high growth trajectory, have a variety of needs with respect to financial capital, managerial and technical expertise, market development and access, workforce development, and innovation and technology. Local governments may be suited to assist entrepreneurs and small firms with some needs more so than others.
A recent publication by the National League of Cities is designed to serve as a guide for local officials who are trying to determine what makes sense for a municipal government to do in supporting entrepreneurship. The report is billed as a “tool kit” for local leaders, and it profiles entrepreneurial development efforts in several U.S. cities including:
- Austin, Texas (Greening Businesses)
- Boston, MA (Innovation District)
- Littleton, CO (Economic Gardening)
- New York, NY (Supporting Immigrant Entrepreneurs)
- Scottsdale, AZ (University Partnership)
- Seattle, WA (Improving Communication with Businesses)
- Wichita, KS (Exporting Assistance)
The report recommends that cities, at a minimum, should try to address the issues within their direct control that shape the environment for entrepreneurs and small firms, such as the local political leadership, city government communication with businesses, and regulatory policies and procedures. Another important lesson for cities is to know when and on what issues to bring in external partners with needed resources and expertise.