Gone are the days where one city has a monopoly on all the resources for a successful business. Now resources are being poured into cities across the United States to stimulate local economies through empowered urban entrepreneurs.
Then to Now
The term urban entrepreneur can be found in research papers dated as early as the 1990’s. Traditionally, the term “urban” referred to inner-city, low income minorities, while “entrepreneurs” referred to those that used limited resources to serve their neighborhoods with business solutions. Nowadays the term has evolve to categorize entrepreneurs that work in and for cities.
In The Emergence of the Urban Entrepreneur, Boyd Cohen states “Currently, 600 cities account for 60 percent of the global economy; by 2025, it is predicted that the top 100 cities will account for 35 percent of the world’s economy.” As a result cities ripe for Urban Entrepreneurship have garnered much attention in the recent years. Foundations, universities, venture capitalists and even governments are now pouring resources into cities to create strong local economies that will transform into international powerhouses.
Defining Urban Entrepreneurship
You’ll find many definitions, but here are some common factors of the urban entrepreneurship movement.
- Solving Community Problems – local leaders are stepping up and creating products and services based on community needs.
- Limited/Local Resources – urban entrepreneurs aren’t usually an extension of a big corporation or come from generations of wealth.
- Economic Empowerment – the businesses created aim to be scalable solutions and to leave a positive, lasting impact on customers and community.
- Focused on the Individuals Creating Jobs and Businesses – the resources are focused around the entrepreneur as the one to pioneers commerce in their region.
If you are an urban entrepreneur looking for help. Here are a few places to start searching.
Universities usually house organizations for urban entrepreneurship in the business school or entrepreneurship program. Universities like Rutgers Business School’s The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) and University of Pittsburgh’s Urban & Community Entrepreneurship Program are not exclusive to students.
Large companies like Google and Bank of America partner with local communities to setup incubators for start-ups. For example, Charlotte’s Queen City Fintech boasts relationships with Bank of America, Oracle, and BB&T.
Lastly, check out foundations and private organizations that focus on entrepreneurship. Co-working spaces, like WeWork and The Lab Miami, make it affordable and accessible for urban entrepreneurs to work on their business and work with each other. Also, Score is a great organization that offers free advice for small business owners.
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