“E” leadership team is an entrepreneur’s “A” team

E-Leadership teams are a key piece to becoming an entrepreneur-friendly community.

Entrepreneurs are the backbone of a community. They provide jobs, places to visit, and opportunities to grow the economy. If an entrepreneur in your community needed help, would they know where to turn? If a potential new business was looking at your town to open up shop, would someone be there to meet and greet them? This is where an “e” leadership team comes into play.

The concept of an “e” leadership team is quite simple. A group of individuals representing all areas of a community; business owners, government officials (city and county level), Downtown Development Authority (DDA) representatives, school leaders, chamber of commerce staff, bankers, the list could go on and on – all come together for the common good of an entrepreneur.

While many may think, “Oh no, not another committee/group! Who has time for that?”, we urge you to reconsider your initial reaction as the benefits to your community could be astounding. Michigan State University Extension partner Northern Lakes Economic Alliance is an advocate for a community to form an E-leadership team.

We have learned through experience that the most effective community e-Leadership teams are simple and do not result in the formation of another official organization. No budget, no staff, no “501-C-whatever” status. What these e-Teams look like is a group of already existing organizations, (with similar goals to see entrepreneurs grow and thrive), come together in a simple “collective impact” style approach.

An example of a successful E-leadership team is Team Boyne. Team Boyne is a group of people in the community of Boyne City, Michigan. It includes representatives from: the chamber of commerce, City, Library, business owners, DDA members, Main Street, school officials, the local economic development group as well as others. They meet on a monthly basis to discuss current issues of entrepreneurs and how they can help, as well as keeping each other briefed on initiatives their particular organizations are undertaking. The meetings have an agenda, purpose and follow-up. This is what separates it from simply a group meeting for coffee every morning to discuss the events of the day.

Although Team Boyne can be credited for many exiting projects and results, an impressive example is the recruitment of a new manufacturing plant to Boyne City.

A manufacturing company was investigating a location to open a sister plant somewhere in the region. As they were checking out various communities and the options available, Team Boyne sprang into action. It was a well-orchestrated and total team effort, in which different players did their part to show this company that Boyne City was the place for their new manufacturing plant.

Because of the swift action, coordinated approach and genuine commitment of Team Boyne, the company chose Boyne City to be home to that new business. Two years later, the company has grown to 45 employees and will grow to over 150 in the next 5 years or so. Good jobs, family-supporting wages and a great fit for everyone.

Are you interested yet? A great starting point to learn how to form an e-Leadership team in your community is the MSU Extension Connecting Entrepreneurial Communities (CEC) conference. Annually, this two day statewide conference is packed with programming to educate communities on the various tools and resources available to help them help entrepreneurs grow in their communities.

In 2015, CEC will expand and go “Border to Border” and offer two locations for the statewide conference. Our hosts will be two great communities that are located at opposite ends of our great state. Oct 7-8 in Houghton/Hancock and Oct 21-22 in Sturgis. 

To get on the CEC Conference mailing list for updates and info about the conference contact and/or to learn more about forming an e-Leadership Team in your community, contact the NLEA at 231-582-6482 or info@northernlakes.net.

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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