Bottom Up Approach to Entrepreneurship Resonating in City Halls


Earlier this fall, we unveiled a couple of subtle changes to the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship including increased attention to developments at the state and local level. Since then, we have featured guest articles from a member of Congress on Ohio as well as a governor about Colorado, and with National Entrepreneurship Month (and Global Entrepreneurship Week) behind us, it is time to take a look at America’s cities.

In a recent blog post for, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and Dane Stangler, who leads the Kauffman Foundation's Research and Policy program, highlight key themes that arose out of the 2014 Mayors Conference on Entrepreneurship that focused on the maker movement.

The post shares a few important strategies to spur entrepreneurial growth in a city. Leading the way is a recommendation to forego traditional approaches to economic development and instead focus on supporting a local entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Mayor Fischer had this to say in the post:

Traditional top-down approaches to economic development have dominated much of the public discourse in the past decades. These top-down approaches, which include things like science parks and multi-million-dollar public venture funds, are hard to pull off and use scarce taxpayer dollars. Rather than the government dictating innovation from the top, Louisville and other cities support innovation and experimentation from the bottom-up. Entrepreneurs should be at the center of innovation, not the government.

That is certainly not a new refrain for the Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship where we have had the benefit of Kauffman research on the importance of firm age over size, but it is undeniably starting to resonate in City Halls across the country.

Fischer and Stangler provide additional examples from Louisville that illustrate the point – as well as other recommendations for cities looking to nurture their startup ecosystems.

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