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A recent report released by Lieutenant Governor Sanquinetti, leader of the Governor's Rural Affairs Council stresses the importance of including entrepreneurs in innovative economic development planning for rural communities. The report Rural Illinois: New Challenges, New Opportunities also identified the difficulties that small, rural communities are having "attracting younger people" and "competing with metro areas when engaged in traditional industry recruiting efforts." The report indicates that:

Rural communities should be encouraged and supported in pursuing more innovative economic development strategies such as promoting entrepreneurship and alternative business models. Small, rural communities must also pursue alternative ways to finance economic development initiatives including options like micro-lending, crowdfunding, and community foundations focused specifically on economic development. Find complete report HERE

Promoting entrepreneurial development in small, rural communities will take planning and in some cases a change in the traditional economic development approach that community leaders in these areas have been following for decades. In addition to the financing options that the report suggests these communities need to "create a recipe for entrepreneurial success". The Kaufmann Institute suggests that when developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem "the ingredients matter more than the recipe". The first step in a good plan for building an entrepreneurial community needs to be convening all of the entrepreneurial resources you have in your community. During this process you also want to bring in and listen to your local entrepreneurs. Then build your plan from there.

Is it time for your community to create an economic development strategy that attracts and retains entrepreneurs? If so, you can also check out some work done by one of my colleagues, Kathie Brown on Building Entrepreneurial Communities; or contact your University of Illinois Extension Community & Economic Development Educator for more information about how we can help.