Belleville, Ont. - Karen Poste Manager, Economic and Strategic Initiatives
I'm sure you've heard the saying "it takes a village to raise a child", well I believe the same can be said about raising a business. Right from the start - even before a business is registered, a community can influence an entrepreneur by having and stimulating an entrepreneurial culture. Initiatives such as the Small Business Centre, Trenval, economic development departments, Summer Company, Futurpreneur, The Chambers of Commerce and others can have an impact on whether a community sees itself as a place where new entrepreneurial endeavors are celebrated or treated with some skepticism. Financing is another big influencer when it comes to the entrepreneurial readiness of a community. Are the banks, funded agencies and angel investors in your city ready and interested in supporting new business ideas and taking chances on start-up businesses? Are there mentors in your community willing to share what they have learned in business with those just starting out? Is your education system talking about entrepreneurship as a valid career choice? These vital supports can make the difference when defining whether or not you have an entrepreneurial community.
Once the business is established, the community continues to take a lead role in the success or failure of the business and in more ways than just patronizing these establishments. Does the community have the labour needed with the work ethic required to move that business forward?
Supports like transit service, day care facilities, accessible health care, city infrastructure, etc. can all impact how successful a business can become. One of the most significant factors in the success or failure of the venture will always be the people that work in the business. Loyalist College has been a fantastic source of graduates for our businesses and they play a crucial role in ensuring the work force upgrades their training and skills to keep them current. Families and friends can also influence the culture of the community by supporting and encouraging those around them to seek an education in a needed field or to at least take the job they have seriously. Ensuring the local labour force is active and engaged and recognizes the connection between their efforts and the success of the business they work for, and ultimately the community they work in, is key to ensuring a business can meet the demands of their customer base.
All levels of government have a critical role to play in providing enough support to get a business goring, while at the same time, interfering as little as possible in the forward momentum new businesses experience. Communities need to make sure their infrastructure is capable of meeting the needs of growing businesses. The parks, schools, social services, transportation and health care systems must meet the needs of the work force to ensure staff can safely and enjoyably live and navigate the community.
Certainly the 'buy local' philosophy is key to supporting local entrepreneurs. Buying products and services as close to home as possible will always be an easy way to support your local businesses.
Actively growing and encouraging that entrepreneurial spirit in a community is one of the best ways to ensure its economic stability and growth in the future. Belleville has always recognized the importance of local jobs and investment but we sometimes forget that supporting these important outcomes can happen in many forms - it can be as simple as making sure our children understand the basic principles of working hard, obtaining skills in a needed field and supporting local business.