The Washington State Economic Gardening Program takes an entrepreneurial approach to regional prosperity. Often referred to as a “grow from within” strategy, it helps existing companies within a community grow larger. In contrast to traditional business assistance, economic gardening focuses on strategic growth challenges, such as developing new markets, refining business models and gaining access to competitive intelligence. Working in conjunction with the Edward Lowe Foundation, economic gardening specialists help CEOs identify which issues are hindering their growth and then leverage sophisticated tools to deliver insights and information that CEOs can apply immediately.
Funding an expansion of your business can be pretty hard to do without funding. And getting traditional funding can be pretty hard when you run a small business. To close the gap, we’ve partnered with Community Sourced Capital to create Fund Local. Small businesses can get a loan of up to $50,000 through this unique partnership. Sign up on the site, make your pitch, then share it with your customers, friends and other potential investors who can by “squares” in increments of $50 to fund your growth or expansion. These are zero-interest loans if you pay them back on time in monthly installments. Some businesses have successfully done several rounds of Fund Local fundraising.
Growing Rural Economies (GRE)
Entrepreneurship is recognized as critical to the future of rural Washington. Growing Rural Economies helps rural communities move away from a primary and difficult strategy of business attraction and focus on building a sustainable community from within through entrepreneurship. The objective is to provide programs for entrepreneurs and communities that stimulate the entrepreneurial culture. In doing so, it is expected that a healthy business climate will encourage potential and aspiring entrepreneurs to start businesses. Technical assistance and support for entrepreneurial development are provided through workshops, forums, business plan competitions, mentoring, web page resources and electronic and print material.
Rural Small Business Initiative
The Rural Small Business Initiative supports businesses and their communities throughout the state with an emphasis on addressing the unique challenges and opportunities of operating in rural locations. Services include providing specialized technical assistance to business at all stages of growth or experiencing downturns in the market, access to capital, workforce development, marketing, trade and requests for training. The Small Business Initiative works with local, state and federal partners to help rural businesses achieve community success and business sustainability.
Created by the Washington State Legislature and developed under the direction of the Department of Commerce, two centers — one in Asotin and one in Whitman counties — provide entrepreneurs and small businesses with information and resources regarding funding, training, technical assistance, mentorship, education and networking. 80% of all jobs are created locally by entrepreneurs and small businesses, and these centers serve their diverse needs.
A major crisis or disaster can seriously disrupt operations, or worse, put you out of business. Startup Washington provides small businesses with planning tools that will help them prepare and recover from natural and man-made disasters, from a robbery and hacking to a mudslide or earthquake. We all assist communities, economic development organizations and small businesses with recovery and sustainability efforts following a disaster.
A month-long series of events, webinars, competitions, panels, showcases and learning opportunities geared to entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs who want to start their own businesses. Check out 2015’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, which included more than 100 events statewide You can also see the 2014 list of events here.
The annual Northwest Economic Development Course is the premier event offering intensive training in the basic concepts, methods, and strategies of local economic development. 2016 marks the 26th year of this course that has graduated over 2000 practitioners throughout the country. A diverse and experienced faculty provides an excellent blend of theory and practice. Course content is oriented toward practical application. Practitioners new to the field as well as those with experience seeking new ideas and tools are encouraged to attend. Program details and registration will be available on this site in early 2017.