Insights for an Entrepreneurial City

Metropolitan entrepreneurship issues are the focus of two new Kauffman Foundation reports released last week at the Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship held in conjunction with Global Entrepreneurship Week.

"This is the first time mayors from across the country have come together for the sole purpose of exploring entrepreneurship opportunities and overcoming challenges," said Dane Stangler, vice president of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. "These papers and the conference discussions… offer valuable insights for these city leaders, and we hope it is just the beginning of an ongoing national discussion."

How Cities Can Nurture Cultural Entrepreneurs

The first paper, "How Cities Can Nurture Cultural Entrepreneurs," discusses the importance of cultural entrepreneurs, particularly since the Great Recession, and provides concrete steps that mayors and the public sector can follow to promote cultural entrepreneurship.

Economists and city planners increasingly have documented the roles artists play in local economies. As cities have better understood artists' contributions to  the metropolitan economic base – for example, by attracting cultural industry firms and bringing in income from outside the city through exports of books, recordings, visual art and other creations – their appreciation of and support for artists also have grown.

Noting that artists are many times more likely to be self-employed than are scientists and engineers, and that traditional policies and services don't effectively support artists' aspirations and occupational training needs, the paper offers seven strategies that mayors and city council members may champion to foster creative entrepreneurs:

  • Know who your local artists are.
  • Encourage convening and equipment-sharing artists' centers.
  • Develop sustainable artist studio and live/work buildings.
  • Provide entrepreneurial training tailored to artists and designers.
  • Build networking and marketing opportunities for artists.
  • Embed artists in city development strategies.
  • Partner with local arts and policy faculty for entrepreneurial research and training.

The Most Entrepreneurial Metropolitan Area? 

The second paper, "The Most Entrepreneurial Metropolitan Area?," reports on federal government data – available to the public for the first time – on business startups at the metropolitan area level.

The paper compares the trends in 40 metropolitan areas with higher numbers of startups over the past two decades to the significant national downward trend in overall new firm formation starting after 2006.

Nationally, the trend reversed and started to recover in 2011. No metropolitan area escaped this downward trend, but there are differences among regions in the timing of the downturn and subsequent recovery.

The paper demonstrates that Metropolitan Statistical Areas of different locations and sizes can have similar measures of startup density. Surprisingly, many of the MSAs that performed well in the evaluation are not commonly thought of as significant locations of startup activity.

The largest MSAs – those with populations greater than 1 million –fared slightly better through the recession and have experienced slightly stronger recoveries, though none has returned to pre-downturn levels.

[ source: Kauffman Foundation press release ]

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