Thursday, January 15, 2009

I "hate" it when someone else says it better than I do... LOL

THIS is what I've been ranting about.. Wow! This is from my buddies at RUPRI's Center for Rural Entrepreneurship (Don Macke, take a bow.)

What this says below is easier to say than to do -- VERY easy to do, but a pain to actually stay the course & do it. That means.. it;s a great horse, but we need great jockeys.

Is RUPRI reading our playbook? (Well, except that I read theirs first, lol.) But it does indeed read like the playbook for ESTech, my last meeting with Miles Mahoney & Brian Cummings and even my last conversation with Don Dietrich. This is not only a nicely written item, it's grounds for optimism. People ARE getting it - and the RIGHT people are getting it.

BTW, latest cool stat - since 1980, employment has grown an average of 1.8% a year. Jobs from startups are 3% of new jobs each year! Not double, but... not bad!)

But let's let CRE tell the tale... [with my insertions made for my committee colleagues..]

from CRE [emphasis added]:
"In a recent article in IEDC’s Economic Development Journal, Steve Buttress (Senior Fellow with the Center) and Don Macke (the Center’s Director of Strategic Engagement) suggest that understanding the roles that entrepreneurs play in the growth of local economies must be a key part of any community’s economic development strategy. [Check!] "Energizing Entrepreneurs, Development Strategy for the 21st Century" begins by reflecting back on an article written by Buttress in 1989 which identified the challenges for rural communities, particularly the rural heartland. According to Buttress, he was struck by how similar the needs are now to what he identified in 1989. In fact, entrepreneurship is “more important now than it was three months ago” when the current article was written. Buttress noted the need for communities to “fish where the fish are” and, in order to do that, community leaders need to be “calling on individuals and businesses in your community and asking how you can be a bridge between them and the resources they need to be successful.” [Check!]

The strong belief in the importance of entrepreneurship development to long term community sustainability comes from the Center’s experience throughout rural America and the work both Buttress and Macke have been doing in the heartland for several decades. Buttress notes that there’s nothing better than a story to help communities understand the importance of entrepreneurship development. Based on their work in Nebraska, Buttress “saw communities declining since the 1920s that have turned things around by going out and talking to local businesses, helping them access resources.”

The article outlines the case for an entrepreneurial strategy and identifies some “shining examples” of places and organizations that are actively engaged in energizing and supporting entrepreneurs – Littleton, Colorado, HomeTown Competitiveness communities in the heartland, Northern Initiatives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation in Appalachian Kentucky, Network Kansas operating statewide.[And soon.... Idaho!]

The authors also point to elements of a successful entrepreneurial strategy. Buttress suggests that community leaders should begin by doing three things – (1) Articulate that entrepreneurship is something important to the community; (2) Assemble people – usually volunteers – with the energy and skills to help local entrepreneurs and give them an “identity so people can find them”; (3) Identify existing businesses, call on them, and ask them what the community can do to help. [Check!]

Buttress argues that once a community identifies entrepreneurship as an important strategy, the “entrepreneurs will find you!” And, he noted the importance of getting out ahead of events rather than reacting to things that have already happened. [Check!] Buttress quoted Wayne Gretsky’s response to a question about what made him a great player, “Well, I try to skate where the puck’s gonna be.” Such an approach would work well for rural communities. To access the article, please go to
" [You'll love their whole website..]

Damn, this makes me proud of my friends at ESTech and of my friends in Commerce, Governor's Office and the legislature and in the Idaho community (Doesn't this ALSO also kinda sound like the principles behind TechBoise, Ignite, IdeaMarket, etc.?)

It's so nice to have your core beliefs validated like this, but that's #2 for me - #1 most important for me is:

We're getting it. (But let's not drop the ball, ok? As I said up top, this says below is MUCH easier to say than to do -- thankfully we've got some great jockeys.)

Entrepreneurially yours,

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Hobnobbing with my Fellow Wizards? Off to Learn More About Growing Entrepreneurs!

Good news = got bumped to first again on Delta
Bad news = all that means is I fly too much! LOL

UPDATE: Better news - Read Mike Boss's newest wordsmanship on IBR (

En route to a huge national conference of the top entrepreneurship educators and top scholars. If you want to see what madness I'm officially doing, go, check out the conference & see the program**

Unofficially (the fun part) I'll be seeing old friends, plotting new research projects and a meeting of the top folks on growing entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship-led economic development is key for Idaho and I'm going to get feedback on what I'm involved in here (ESTech, yes, but also including a major white paper that is already selling entrepreneurship-led development to all the right people...who actually know this is imperative.) Further validation would be nice, but new intel would be even better.

[One thing we do know all too painfully is that - just like teaching entrepreneurship - this is NO job for amateurs. In other states, what killed efforts was listening to people who *think* they are experts.. LOL but... ouch...]

Anyway I will attempt to keep people posted- twitter, facebook, etc. If I get ambitious, I'll add comments here as well.

Cheers for the ever-popular SLC airport...
your obedient correspondent.

** yes, I am speaking on [I will try to post my ppts on Slideshare]:
> Neuro-Preneurship (very cool/sexy but need to find better applications)
> How expert entrepreneurs think & why/how that matters for training entrepreneurs, and
> Edu-Preneurship -- a way cool session with me bragging on LSU's entrepreneurial-izing Baton Rouge schools AND them bragging on Idaho's first-of-its-kind online high school entrepreneurship course.
[shamelessly, I'll admit that all three are nominated for awards... it was easy, the head judge is some guy named Blagosevich? LOL]

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What Do YOU Think?

We've often said that "technology" and "agriculture" are actually natural allies. Today, the technology required to be competitive in agribusiness pretty sophisticated and some of the very best high tech opportunities can be found in this market. Yet there seems to be little movement to cross that apparent divide.

In Sunday's Statesman:

Yes - there is a bit of a cultural divide between rural and urban. There's also a gap between the "come here" in-migrants and "been here" natives. I've been horrified to heart the contempt expressed toward rural Idaho and its values. (And the fear that some rural people understandably feel toward what they see as arrogant newcomers who think they are smarter & better than the "hicks".)

Yet - there is so much common ground. During all the planning, etc. for ESTech, it's become painfully obvious that one area that most people seem to agree on is that Idaho ought to become more entrepreneurial. It's more than "mom & apple pie", it actually works. (See my prior blog post for the stats.)

Probably understandable given my biases but growing a more entrepreneurial Idaho is absolutely the key to moving everyone forward, rural or urban, tech or ag.

We need each other: Economic activity in metro & nonmetro counties are correlated reciprocally.

We also want each other: Plenty of "tech" firms in nonmetro counties here, same for gazelles. [In fact, southern Idaho had the highest % of gazelles!]

Idaho has tremendous entrepreneurial potential -across the state. We have the expertise to nurture a more entrepreneurial Idaho & it doesn't even cost much.

But are we taking advantage? Maybe not yet, but I see lots of hints that we may be moving forward and soon.

P.S. Let me plug Idaho's first-of-its-kind online high school entrepreneurship class ** offered via Idaho Digital Learning Academy - costs school districts nada. The class starts again Jan 16, so if you know any HS seniors who are entrepreneurial (or should be, LOL) get thee to - now!

Thoughts? (and think entrepreneurship!)

** btw, this course would not have happened without the Idaho *Rural* Partnership (whose exec dir, Shelby Kerns, authored the Statesman piece.