Building Missoula's (and other Montana communities') entrepreneurial ecosystem
|January 29, 2017||View for printing|
Nearly 65 percent of native-born Montanans with a college degree live outside of Montana. In part, Montanans leave to pursue opportunities and experiences not available in Montana. In part, they leave to find better paying jobs.
The natural question is what, if anything, can (or should) be done to address this? What might be done to create more opportunities for people in Missoula?
Midsize Cities Are Entrepreneurship's Real Test http://www.matr.net/article-75400.html
Missoula is indeed relatively small compared to major city centers but that's no reason that it can't become an even more successful entrepreneurial center. They key is to figure out how it can become that "red spotted zebra". By this I mean it needs to develop a unique economic cluster identity. Broad based industry goals such as natural resources, health care or business services are too broad and will only lead to a dilution of the possibilities of the community as a whole.
Other communities have faced the same challenge. They've thrived by first taking an inventory of their assets and resources in all economic niches. For each type of business this should include all of the normal measurements but also local data like retired scientists, retired C suite execs, experts who don't live here but who have an interest in participating, potential investors who have vacation homes, investors who regularly visit for recreation of cultural pursuits, etc... The list is only limited by the imagination of the community.
From this analysis will come those industry niches that can be the focus of growth and innovation. A good example of this is the optics/photonics economic cluster that has developed in Bozeman, Montana. Montana Photonics Industry Alliance. http://www.montanaphotonics.org/members/
There's much more to this program but a community that realizes that it can't compete in all sectors but can benefit all sectors by focusing on a single one will realize success well beyond its size. I hope other Montana communities can find the will to embark on this most productive economic development concept.
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