By: Erik Pedersen for SourceLink
Originally published April 19, 2017
Reprinted with permission
Erik Pedersen is the vice president of entrepreneurship for SourceLink’s Kansas community, NetWork Kansas. Along with Steve Radley, Erik built NetWork Kansas from the ground up, with special attention to really listening to the needs of both entrepreneurs and community partners.
Erik’s initial task was the development and growth of the NetWork Kansas referral center. His responsibilities have grown to oversee the Entrepreneurship (E-) Community partnership. This partnership, which has grown to 59 E-Communities, includes an injection of capital raised locally through the NetWork Kansas Entrepreneurship Tax Credit Program to help start and grow businesses in rural Kansas communities. Below, he talks about how to grow entrepreneurship and "recruit" entrepreneurs in a small town.
How do you attract entrepreneurs to a small town? For reasons inexplicable to me, when I read that question, my first thought went to Jessie, Hady and Jose...more on that later.
Having worked at NetWork Kansas since '05, and having oversight of our 59 Entrepreneurship (E-) Communities, of which most are rural, I spend a lot of time considering the "entrepreneurship as an economic development tool in rural communities" issue. When I think about attracting entrepreneurs to a rural community, I think of personal decision points an entrepreneur might have like infrastructure, housing, high-speed internet, schools, office space, and maybe even whether a place exists that can make a quality caramel macchiato. All of those make my head hurt and seem really big.
I am convinced that a "grow your own" mentality is the most viable alternative for rural communities to thrive and in some cases, survive.