Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From Recent Courier-Journal Article

Mountain group says Ky. needs to grow own businesses

By Bill Wolfe • • August 25, 2008

Kentucky needs to offer stronger support for entrepreneurs and focus more on developing home-grown businesses rather than on recruiting businesses from outside, according to a report commissioned by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development.

The report, released today, said the state “faces serious challenges” in its small-business activity, lagging the national average in growth rates and income. Kentucky “has much work to do in expanding entrepreneurship across the state.”

“Kentucky as a whole has not made adequate economic progress over the last 30 years,” Jason Bailey, research and policy director for the association, said in an interview. “We are largely stuck in an old approach to economic development that’s really based on recruiting industry with the use of tax incentives.”

That approach is part of economic development, “but increasingly it’s not enough, and states need to turn more of their attention to promoting growth from within,” Bailey said.

The report said Kentucky has many of the tools needed to foster small businesses, such as programs of the state Cabinet for Economic Development and at state universities, community colleges and technical colleges. “Challenges remain in connecting the dots” between various programs, however, and there is a general lack of awareness and lack of appreciation of the potential of homegrown development, it said.

Recommendations included broad-based “entrepreneurship education,” more access to microlending, seed capital and angel investing and the creation of an Entrepreneurship and Small Business Commission

The report doesn’t make specific recommendations on the amount of money that would be needed or where it would come from, Bailey said.

The report was written by the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, a national research and policy center created in 2001. The Mountain Association is a 32-year-old community development organization that works in eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia.

If you are interested in reading the report, it is available at this link.

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