Local Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Toolkit

When all five Cs are present entrepreneurs can thrive!

CAMEO has witnessed several trends over the last decade that call for a new tool in the economic development toolbox.

  • The social contract between employer and employee is changing radically.
  • Automation continues to eliminate entire job categories.
  • Traditional industries have limited employment opportunities.
  • This is especially true in rural areas, where jobs were heavily concentrated in industries like logging, mining, or manufacturing.
  • The concept of “jobs” is shifting.
  • Small business owners and entrepreneurs are creating their own jobs.
  • In most rural areas, more than 98% of all businesses are microbusinesses with less than five employees.

Rural economic development strategies need to adjust to these new trends to include a place-based approach to rural economic development that will foster a healthy ecosystem for the creation and growth of small businesses.

This toolkit describes the elements of a healthy ecosystem. The introduction flushes out why a new economic development tool is needed and briefly describes the elements. The five subsequent chapters explore more in-depth the five elements that make up a strong ecosystem. Within each chapter, you’ll find:

  • an explanation of what the element is and the function it plays within the ecosystem,
  • examples of activities that local jurisdictions can undertake; implement the ones that best fit your community,
  • additional resources, and
  • stories of success and profiles of those who exemplify each element.
    We then provide a simple roadmap on what to do after you read this toolkit and a few useful tools to build upon your community’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.