Economic Gardening: Grow Your Own

Posted by on July 9, 2007 at 12:03 pm.

I just completed reading Alison Trinidad’s coverage of Jacksonville’s “Economic Gardening” in the Florida Times-Union. Although the topic is second nature for venture hotspots, the call to “grow your own” is getting louder across the rest of the country. This is from the article:

“It’s called economic gardening. The philosophy centers on growing existing business within a region through planting entrepreneurship seeds, nurturing them and waiting for them to grow.”

Pretty simple concept, but hard for many to prioritize above business attraction — particularly for elected officials who benefit from the sound bites and ribbon cuttings of a newly recruited manufacturing or distribution center.

My town, Gainesville, understands the long-term investment; and it sounds like the Jacksonville Chamber is at least saying the right things:

“We can create as much economic impact by growing existing business as [by] hunting for new ones,” said Bob Baldwin, senior vice president of the Jacksonville Regional Chamber of Commerce. “[Small] business is the largest developer of net jobs and less likely to leave a community. … Hunting tends to get more publicity because we [gardeners] are creating jobs one at a time vs. 1,000 jobs in one shot.”

The article described the components of Economic Gardening as Communication, Infrastructure and Network. I think Economic Gardening requires what all gardening does:

  • Seeds: creative ideas and commercializable research
  • Food: entrepreneurs, management and technologists to feed the seeds
  • Water: a networked venture ecosystem of talent, accountants, attorneys, incubators and space
  • Sunlight: funding sources to deliver fuel/energy/guidance to budding sprouts

What about your city? Are they talking about growing businesses or attracting them?

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