Focusing on organic job growth in communities statewide.


It’s a hard lesson some communities must learn along the way. A big company leaves, and with it jobs. Hopes of a new employer coming to town are dashed by intense competition and deep pockets. In need of work, people move away, and when they do, the very soul of the community withers and wastes away. But there is a way to retain that intellectual wealth and economic vitality. By focusing on entrepreneurship and small business growth, communities can flourish organically, creating jobs, filling empty storefronts and keeping future generations engaged and in residence.

Spearheaded by the Washington State Department of Commerce, the state’s Startup Washington strategy is designed to strengthen communities by through the cultivation and retention of economic and intellectual wealth. It has not only gained the support of local economic developers, but is part of Governor Inslee’s long-term economic development efforts to create more quality jobs statewide.

Our goal with Startup Washington is to re-energize these communities and businesses with the entrepreneurial spirit, whether they are large or small. Technology allows people to live and work where they want to these days and it is Startup’s goal to  provide the tools, resources, education and training needed to start, grow and expand a business anywhere in the state. Entrepreneurship is not just about education; it’s about successful adulthood.


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An interview with…

So you probably think this blog is about me.

I gave a lot of thought about what I should write about this month. There seems to be no shortage of topics to cover about economic development and entrepreneurship. But I feel that over the last two years I may have covered most of the subjects people beside me would find interesting. Wanting to be helpful, Robb Zerr, colleague of mine, suggested that I should write about the new book I’ve just published, Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies for Raising Business Capital. But I felt that was a lot of self-promotion, even though the book is FREE. Sure, Startup Wisdom has received glowing reviews from the likes of Jack Shultz, the guru of entrepreneurship who set a high bar with his book BoomTown USA. Gifford Pinchot, founder of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute and author of Intrapreneurship, also wrote to say how wonderful Startup Wisdom was, especially since it was FREE. Even Mark Nager, who created the world’s largest pre-accelerator and is the founder of Startup Weekend, thought Startup Wisdom was revolutionary in its assistance to entrepreneurs. I suppose I could have also mentioned that Chris Britt, the nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist and winner of the Sigma Delta Chi awards, one of journalism’s most prestigious awards, did the illustrations. But I didn’t think being a namedropper was really appropriate for this column. George Clooney, Kim Kardashian and Bernie Sanders. By its very nature, blogging lends itself to feeding one’s ego. But I didn’t want to take up precious bandwidth and your valuable time just so I could stroke my own ego by mentioning my new FREE book, Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies... read more

Those who can’t follow, lead.

I’ve been thinking a lot about leadership lately. It’s not necessarily my fault. Hardly a day goes by when we’re not bombarded with the latest notions and pseudo-epiphanies about what a leader should or shouldn’t be. Last year alone, almost 1,500 paperbacks were published with the word “leadership” in the title. If I did my math correctly (and don’t count on it), that works out to four new books a day being published. For its part, Amazon lists 57,136 books on the subject of leadership. There’s so much content out there, in fact, that you could dedicate your entire life learning how to be a leader instead of just being one.

Which leads me to wonder…

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Startup Wisdom: 27 Strategies for Raising Business Capital

So, consider: a handful of industries have driven the economy for more than 200 years. Ever since the industrial revolutions began rolling through the 18th and 19th centuries, petroleum, manufacturing, chemicals, natural resources and raw materials, banking, transportation, versions of communication technologies, weapons and real estate have been clustered at the top of the list, with business and political leaders looking out for each other.  With centuries-old competition like that, what is a contemporary under-capitalized start-up to do?  Find new access to capital, of course. Private investments have been stagnant for more than half a century and since 2008 banks, under intense scrutiny, are refusing to risk getting busted for making poor investments. Today’s innovative models are so new – most of them just a few years old – that they are still in quick-mode evolution. Fundraising ideas have never been so important or so available but they need to be better understood; millions of Google hits don’t really help.


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bio-stephen-dunk1Stephen Dunk

Stephen Dunk works for the Washington State Department of Commerce as the Community Outreach Program Manager.  The Outreach Program is charged with creating a presence and on-going relationship with rural, disadvantaged communities throughout Washington State.  Stephen has been working for the Department of Commerce since 2007.  Prior to Community Outreach, Stephen worked for the Public Works Board as a Regional Services Coordinator helping local governments build and retain local capacity and coordinating with state, federal and local funders to assist in financing critical infrastructure needs. From 2001 to 2007 Stephen worked for the Skokomish Indian Tribe as the Manager for Housing & Infrastructure Development.  He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado.  Stephen was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay, South America and has a passion for travel, culture, rural communities and fly fishing!

read the interview…

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