Communities provide support resources for entrepreneurs

Communities have several opportunities to provide support resources for entrepreneurs to grow their local economy.

Having resources and expertise positioned locally to assist entrepreneurs (pre-startup, startup and existing) is important to grow a local economy. This does not have to be expensive. Several low-cost resources can be established and implemented locally.

Michigan State University Extension partner, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance has been assisting entrepreneurs and communities for 30 years and recommends that tools for entrepreneurs should fall into three basic categories.

  1. Self-help resources
    1. Establish a Business Resource Center (BRC). A BRC contains publications and tools to assist entrepreneurs in basic market research, business plan development, etc. The local library is a great BRC host as many of the recommended books and materials are already in place and a small community investment can round out the collection. Libraries are also open in the evenings and weekends when most entrepreneurs are available to do this research.
      Organizations like the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance and Michigan State University Business Library have lists of recommended resources materials for a BRC. Costs for additional materials can often be covered by local service clubs, foundations or private company sponsorships.
    2. Web-based tools. Already established (through a project jointly initiated by the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, Michigan State University Extension and the MSU Business Library) is a complete set of online resources in the most searched categories from business plan templates to financial planning and market research.
  2. Classes for entrepreneurs: There are a wide variety of business classes available ranging from “How to start a business” to more in-depth topics for established businesses. These can be provided for little or no cost by SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives), SBDC-Michigan and your local chamber of commerce office. We recommend local chambers work with the SBDC-Michigan to determine a regular schedule of offerings and promote all programs region wide.
  3. Business Counseling: One-on-one business counseling can provide help to entrepreneurs at many levels from fine-tune their business plan to working through the details of an expansion or launch. There are several organizations throughout the state that can assist including Michigan State University Product Center, SCORE, SBDC-Michigan, etc.) Contact your local chamber of commerce or MSU Extension office for contact information.

Michigan State University Extension has had a unique relationship with the regional economic development organization Northern Lakes Economic Alliance (NLEA) for more than 20 years. Recognizing the strength of combining resources, this partnership focuses on economic development, entrepreneurship growth and community infrastructure throughout a four-county region in the northwest Lower Peninsula, specifically Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan and Emmet counties. As a result, the NLEA utilizes resources offered through MSU Extension as it provides leadership to state-wide programs sponsored by MSU Extension.

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