While we’re more than happy to give David Letterman a nod for popularizing the Top 10 List, we’ve taken it a step further and created Top 10s for the economic development and entrepreneurial crowd. If you have a favorite Top 10, send it our way and we’ll see if we can add it to our hall of fame here.

Ways businesses and entrepreneurs can give thanks to the community

Ways businesses and entrepreneurs can give thanks to the community

  1. Dedicate one product or service where the proceeds will go directly towards a local charity from November 1 to December 31.
  2. Provide an in-kind donation to make over the website of a local charity to include volunteer calendars and the ability to take online donations.
  3. If you have employees, or are an employee, start a matching donation campaign (or compete with another firm) for a local charity.
  4. Lead a drive to donate business clothes (for men and women) to charities like DressForSuccess.org
  5. Award college scholarship for student employees or  local students who are interested in your field.
  6. Volunteer time at a food bank (great for group morale).
  7. Donate gifts to organizations that  provide gifts to underprivileged children (especially school supplies and backpacks)
  8. Lead a drive for diapers, baby formula, and baby clothes for a food bank or women’s safe house shelter (often forgotten donation).
  9. Lead a drive for blanket and winter coats (don’t forget hats, scarves and gloves).
  10. Teach a holiday card-making workshop for children who have family members in the military, and provide all necessary tools (including postage).
  11. Throw a holiday potluck dinner for a local organization that works with the elderly (check dietary needs).
  12. Provide dog food and cat food to an animal shelter.
Best Places to Find Mentors
  1. Volunteer events
  2. Local business scene
  3. College Towns
  4. Outside your circles
  5. Incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces
  6. Chambers of commerce
  7. In your industry
  8. Networking events
  9. Startup events
  10. Meetings and conferences

From the Business Collective

Public Library's Effect on Economic Development
  1. Public Libraries can help high schools prepare students for college or 21st century careers.
  2. Public Libraries can create jobs.
  3. Public Libraries are an important resource for small businesses.
  4. Public Libraries can be a forum for community engagement.
  5. Public  Libraries  have value to neighborhoods  as people perceive library access as part of an enhanced quality of life.
  6. Public Libraries have often become tourist attractions.
  7. Public Libraries are a tremendous asset for entrepreneurs in their business startups.
  8. Public Libraries have a strong return on their investments.
  9. Public libraries are an important entry point to community services for new Americans.
  10. Public Libraries programs develop computer skills and improve workplace literacy.
  11. Public libraries supports continuing education, workplace development and a sense of place in community.
Ways You Can Tell If You're an Entrepreneur

by Mark W. Lund

  1. Your wife always knows where you are.
  2. You are the only one in the company that fears and hates pay day.
  3. You have more than 365 days of “comp time” accumulated.
  4. You limit your fluid intake so you can stay at your desk longer.
  5. Your rich friends wince every time you catch their eye.
  6. Your grandmother has come to know your elevator pitch by heart.
  7. The keys on your telephone have all the numbers worn off.
  8. When watching “Star Wars” you identify with the Trade Federation.
  9. Your kids can tell how the business is doing by whether you Supersize your Big Mac.
  10. The Grim Reaper stops by and you fast talk him into 10 more years for 20,000 shares.

© Copyright Mark W. Lund 2009

10 Things to Do Before You Start a Business

  1. What is the product or service.  Explain it to people as if they are a fifth grader.
  2. What is the unique idea that you have and why does it make you different than others.
  3. What is the market opportunity, how large is it, is it growing and who is the competition
  4. How do you make money i.e. what is the revenue model
  5. Do you have a management team and what do they bring to your table
  6. What is your long term and short term strategy
  7. How will you sell or market your product or service.
  8. How much money do you need in startup costs and operating costs
  9. What are the projected financials i.e. how much do you have to sell to make the money you need to spend full time on this
  10. How much would you value the company if someone wanted to buy it from you.
Ideas for a Healthy Community
  1. Invest in  Education
  2. Advocate for philanthropy
  3. Celebrate Your history
  4. Understand the value of diversity
  5. Value art and culture
  6. Create third places
  7. Develop partnerships
  8. Map your assets
  9. Support local libraries
  10. Educate elected officials


by Lanie McMullin

Ways to Fill Vacant Buildings

1. Make a space that multiple businesses can divide and share.
2. Set up a business incubator.
3. Renovate, then lease or sell the building to the city or municipality.
4. Try a pop-up.
5. Create a co-working space.
6. Use the upstairs for apartments.
7. Use the upstairs for short term lodging.
8. Put empty buildings up for sale online to lure urban businesses to relocate.
9. Rent the front window to another store for a window display.
10. Clean it up, dress it up, put up lights.

To learn more about filling vacant buildings, click here.

by Becky McCray

Thou Shalt Nots of an Economic Developer

1. Thou shalt not make excuses.

2. Thou shalt not focus on weaknesses.

3. Thou shalt not put off doing things.

4. Thou shalt not obsess over the opinion of others.

5. Thou shalt not judge people.

6. Thou shalt not let lack of resources stop you.

7. Thou shalt not quit because of minor setbacks.

8. Thou shalt not blindly accept what they read on the internet.

9. Thou shalt not avoid uniqueness.

10. Thou shalt not ignore the next generation.

How Well Do You Know Your Entrepreneurship Ecosystem

1. You know that you have a strong entrepreneurship ecosystem when there are more and more startups. True or False?

2. Offering financial incentives (e.g. angel investment tax credits) for early stage, risky investments in entrepreneurs clearly stimulates the entrepreneurship ecosystem. True or False?

3. Job creation is not the primary objective of fostering an entrepreneurship ecosystem True or False?

4. In order to strengthen your regional entrepreneurship ecosystem, it is necessary to establish co-working spaces, incubators and the like. True or False?

5. If we want strong entrepreneurship ecosystems we need strong entrepreneurship education. True or False?

6. Entrepreneurs drive the entrepreneurship ecosystem. True or False?

7. Large corporations stultify entrepreneurship ecosystems because they prey on entrepreneurs and their ventures. True or False?

8. According to entrepreneurs the top three challenges everywhere are access to talent, excessive bureaucracy, and scarce early stage capital. True or False?

9. Banks are irrelevant for the entrepreneurship ecosystem because they don’t lend to startups. True or False?

10. Family businesses squash entrepreneurial initiative in order to protect their “franchise.” True or False?

To see how well you did according to Daniel Isenberg, Professor of Entrepreneurship Practice, Babson Executive Education, and founding executive director of the Babson Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Project,  visit this page.

You May Be An Entrepreneur If...
  1. There are more crop dusters parked at your county airport than any other type of aircraft.
  2. You have ever spent an entire lunch discussing sewer capacity.
  3. Your six year old daughter tells her first grade classmates that you make your money driving around in the woods with the mayor and another man.
  4. Your county cant swing the cost of a spec building so you improvise and build a “spec  slab”.
  5. When writing down the directions to your office the words “dirt road” are used more than once.
  6. You include a deer tag and country ham with all the incentive packages.
  7. You have ever sealed a RFP with duct tape.
  8. The water tower at your largest industrial park features the phrase “I love Doreen” painted on the side.
  9. Every important person in your county knows you are an important person but they don’t know why.
  10. You update your resume after finding out your board chairman’s son just graduated from the universities economic development masters program.

by Michael Randle

New Year's Resolutions for Economic Developers

1. Promote your community every chance you get by updating your web page with local new, highlights and successes.

2. Recognize the importance of the local library and identify it as a “third space” and an information sharing facility that can help existing businesses.

3. Work to bring more local partners, public and private, into your economic development process.

4.Educate your elected officials and your board that economic development is also about creating healthy sustainable communities, a task which takes time, and it is not just about creating immediate jobs.

5. Participate in high school activities, such as a career day, to inform them that economic development is an important and valued profession in the community.

6. Identify talent already in your community and work to retain them to continue to live and work there.

7. Introduce entrepreneurship to high schools through ideation activities and business plan competitions.

8. Encourage and support the creative arts and remind others through presentations and events that broad based participation in successful cultural activities is one of the primary drivers for people deciding to relocate their businesses to new towns or come visit and spend money.

9. Improve the looks of your downtown with the simple things like flowers and benches and festivals and cultural celebrations. Most improvements are simple and inexpensive. A healthy downtown usually means a healthy community.

10. Produce a list of regional assets, resources, events, and hidden gems and promote them internally and externally. Every business, household and web page should be a concierge desk for people interested in your community.

Ideas for a Successful Business Retention Program
  1. Introduce new ways to best use your social media to promote local businesses internally and externally.
  2. Identify and celebrate milestones that your businesses have achieved.
  3. Help start-ups earn recognition and family by introducing them to your community.
  4. Encourage multiple marketing strategies.
  5. Coordinate business forums to discuss common issues and resolutions.
  6. Meet with banks and new funding agencies to advocate for additional access to capital.
  7. Partner with schools to have field trips that introduce skills to students .
  8. Establish a business appreciation event.
  9. Write personal notes to businesses thanking them for being  a part of the community (thank you Jimmy Fallon).
  10. Celebrate your businesses with an appreciation dinner.
Critical Community Conversations for 2015
  1. What is our community’s vision for the future? Is our EDO’s mission still relevant to that vision?
  2. How can we unify our community’s definition of economic development and help residents understand the role of our EDO?
  3. How can we better leverage our education assets to help attract, retain and grow businesses?
  4. What can we do to help students pursue degrees that will lead them into high demand occupations?
  5. How does our community’s quality of life affect our economy?
  6. What can our community do to shrink wealth disparity among our residents?
  7. How can we expand our use of technology in community engagement and marketing?
  8. Should job creation continue to be our primary performance metric? How can we re-think the measures of our community’s well-being?
  9. What will it take for the demographics of our leadership to better match our community’s demographics?
  10. What should we do to empower the next generation of leaders in our community?

by Amy Hollaway, President Avalanche Consulting

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