Young: Promoting a climate for regional entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs are influenced by their operating environment.

Joel YoungI would like to share some thoughts today about creating a climate for entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurship is a very sought after but often not an easily understood phenomenon.

In regions like ours across the Okanagan, entrepreneurship harmonizes with the philosophy that our problems are best solved by solutions generated from within.

Thriving communities, it seems, have adopted an attitude that outside assistance isn’t needed to propose strategies for economic redemption.

Entrepreneurial activity is a suitable strategy for rural regions. While it comes with its own brand of uncertainty, it doesn’t bear the fear of a major employer, for example, closing shop and moving to perceive greener pastures.

Homegrown entrepreneurs have a connection with their communities, the region in which they live, and re-invest financially and emotionally in their immediate locale.

Because many rural regions like the Okanagan do not have a complete business infrastructure, entrepreneurship encourages regional interplay as well as regional identity, both real parts of a healthy economic strategy manifested recently in cluster and corridor development philosophies.

Entrepreneurs are influenced by their operating environment.

A rigid business environment, for example, doesn’t provide ample opportunity for innovation and creativity—the cornerstones for new venture creation.

A financial climate where seed capital can’t be obtained will hamper the momentum for new business start-ups.

A community or regional culture that penalizes change, or even success itself, will not support the necessary ambitions or idea generation of entrepreneurs.

Regional leaders at all levels need to understand why the existing and aspiring entrepreneurs are very important to the socio-economic development of the region, and to communicate that special need widely and loudly.

For example, growth entrepreneurs have both the motivation and capacity to grow their ventures, bringing jobs, tax revenue and economic gains to our communities.

Understanding their needs and developing a climate that is supportive of those needs is an important first step in this critical process for change. For starters, communities with an entrepreneurial culture regularly celebrate their entrepreneurs. I cannot stress this point enough.

They also recognize that their entrepreneurial folks often may appear at times to be out of step with what might be considered the rural, regional norm.

But instead of isolating such entrepreneurs because of their uniqueness, entrepreneurial communities accept entrepreneurs as a new and vital part of the regional social order.

I would love to see the banners flying on the regions highest buildings touting the virtues of the entrepreneurial dream machine.

Let’s face it, our community leaders must address the challenges of incorporating entrepreneurs into the social and political fabric of our regions.

But let’s be mindful that an entrepreneurial climate differs from a business climate because entrepreneurship is fundamentally about developing human resources—the entrepreneurs themselves —and not merely the ventures they may become known for.

Remember that first and foremost, entrepreneurship is about people who want to start new ventures where they live. When we establish an inviting and beneficial infrastructure, we are more likely to attract entrepreneurs from outside of our region and keep here at home those entrepreneurs who are homegrown.

If there is ever a question of a likely and suitable region of Canada that can formulate an entrepreneurial climate for aspiring entrepreneurs to evolve and grow, it is here in our Okanagan.

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