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Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia

September 2018
EntreWorks Consulting with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Appalachia is a suite of research reports and resources to support entrepreneurial development in Appalachia, using both quantitative and qualitative analysis at both the macro and micro levels.

Report Series
1. Literature Review (PDF: 1.6 MB)
The first report provides a comprehensive overview of the components that make up an entrepreneurial ecosystem, with community characteristics and resources broken down into the following seven categories: market access, capital, talent, business assistance, infrastructure, culture, and regulatory support. A section is dedicated to each of the seven components, with particular focus given to the unique challenges facing entrepreneurs in Appalachia.
2. Ecosystem Development Case Studies (PDF: 2.5 MB)
The second report includes eight in-depth case studies of entrepreneurial ecosystems located in communities throughout Region, including Asheville, NC; Athens, OH; Cattaraugus County, NY; Chattanooga, TN; New River Gorge/Greenbrier Valley, WV; The Shoals, AL; Garrett County, MD; and Southwest Virginia. The locations range from urban to rural, and the ecosystems from well-developed to nascent, with the findings aimed at providing guidance for community leaders across Appalachia seeking to develop or enhance their own communities’ ecosystems. Common threads emerged from the case studies, such as the importance of a supportive local culture that embraces entrepreneurship, and successful entrepreneurial communities generally being those that don’t hesitate to “think big.”
3. Building an Entrepreneurial Future: Ideas for Appalachia's Ecosystem Builders and Champions (PDF: 1.3 MB)
The third report examines various measures of entrepreneurial activity and compares performance in Appalachia versus that in the nation as a whole. By and large, performance in the Region is comparable to that in the United States overall, with only minor differences showing up between the two geographies. Based on findings from the two previous sections, the authors also offer suggestions regarding the best ways to initiate and support entrepreneurial development throughout the Region. Recommendations are targeted at four key stakeholder groups: the Commission, state partners, local partners, and entrepreneurs themselves.

Dynamism Dashboard and Resource Inventory
At www.arc.gov/ecosystems, users are able to explore county-level data related to entrepreneurship and compare performance in the metrics across various geographies, including each of Appalachia’s 420 counties. In addition, an inventory of resources catalogs the programs and services available to those interested in entrepreneurship throughout the Region.

This research project was conducted in partnership with EntreWorks Consulting, the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness, and the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship and published in September 2018.

Read the Press Release.