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Local Roles in Small Business Culture

Local Roles in Cultivating a Small Business and Entrepreneurial Culture

Christiana K. McFarland and J. Katie McConnell for the National League of Cities and the Center for Research and Innovation

First published November 2011

Local officials widely recognize that economic competitiveness is contingent upon a strong and growing entrepreneurial and small business community. This is particularly relevant given the national dialogue promoting entrepreneurs and small businesses as key drivers of economic recovery. In order for these businesses to thrive, however, they need a place, or local culture, that does not create barriers and is supportive of their development. While local governments do not necessarily create new businesses, their programs and policies heavily influence this local culture. Building on previous survey research and in-depth fieldwork, we develop a framework to begin to understand and define the underlying characteristics of local efforts supportive of a small business and entrepreneurial culture. We offer case studies of four promising programs in Wichita, Kan., New York, N.Y., Seattle, Wash. and Boston, Mass. to illustrate these characteristics in practice.

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