Small businesses form the backbone of Utah’s economy.
The problem is that many of them, already thriving, are poised for greater growth – they have a good product, ambitious leaders, and plans for expansion – but they don’t have the expertise or resources they need to take the next step.
“Economic gardening” is an innovative approach to economic development that helps connect entrepreneurs with information and tools they need to grow. For example, economic gardening initiatives might provide entrepreneurs with information about demographics, competitors, suppliers, or the latest technology in their field, or they might share techniques for search engine optimization and strategy analysis.
Why economic gardening?
The point of economic gardening is to create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive. It means cultivating a fertile field where they can plant their ideas and use whatever tools they need to grow. This entrepreneur-centered approach has been successful in many parts of the U.S., especially in Littleton, Colo., where it was developed, and recently in Florida on the state level.
What Utah needs is an economic gardening “hub” that has access to the best informational databases and tools available to help entrepreneurs. This hub, ideally funded and operated with private resources, would collaborate with a network of “spokes” throughout the state. These spokes – private and public entrepreneur-oriented organizations – would refer to the hub entrepreneurs who could benefit from its resources.
Let’s face it, government has all kinds of schemes for trying to “create jobs” and fix the economy, but these rarely do much good and can even lead to fewer jobs (and increase frustration for businesspeople and consumers). Only the private sector can create jobs, and the best government can do is get out of the way and, if anything else, help connect entrepreneurs with the information and tools they need to grow their own businesses.
Economic gardening is an approach that leads to more innovation and a job base with more stability. As opposed to traditional government programs, it can help build a lasting foundation for continued prosperity based on the efforts of Utah entrepreneurs.
Brief: Economic Gardening: A Proposal for Growing Utah’s Economy From the Inside Out
Newsletter: A Fertile Garden for Utah Entrepreneurs
Blog: Economic gardening: helping entrepreneurs grow Utah’s economy
Blog: To grow Utah’s economy, start at home
Video: Economic Gardening
Video: Economic gardening could sprout with help from new task force