Entrepreneurship in States: Fostering a Startup-Friendly Economy


The National Governors Association (NGA) released a comprehensive report, Entrepreneurship in States: Fostering a Startup-Friendly Economy. States are increasingly devoting more attention to an important, yet sometimes overlooked, tool for economic development: fostering entrepreneurship. Governors can help revitalize regional economies through strategies that allow entrepreneurs to bring products and services to market. Entrepreneurship can help overcome economic challenges – from growing global competition to lagging rural areas – as well as vocational barriers. There is an opportunity to spark entrepreneurship in young adults who are disconnected from the workforce, in mid-career adults and retirees seeking new opportunities, and in parents who desire flexible employment options.

In this report, NGA has provided cases highlighting state visioning, data collection, financial amenities, regulatory approaches, broadband needs, rural programming, targeting underserved communities and more. Governors can use their bully pulpits to champion their state’s entrepreneurial ecosystems and successful entrepreneurs. They can also work to align diverse interests such as corporate, philanthropic, nonprofit and educational resources toward startup needs. It is also increasingly important for governors to catalyze networking events in and beyond their state, regionally and internationally.

Elements of an Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

According to the Kauffman Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Builder Playbook, a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem includes these elements:

  • — Entrepreneurs who aspire to start and grow new businesses and the people who support them.
  • — Talent that can help companies grow.
  • — People and institutions with knowledge and resources to help entrepreneurs.
  • — Individuals and institutions that champion entrepreneurs and the ecosystem.
  • — Onramps (or access points) to the ecosystem so that anyone and everyone can participate.
  • — Intersections that facilitate the interaction of people, ideas and resources.
  • — Stories that people tell about themselves and their ecosystem.
  • — Culture that is rich in social capital — collaboration, cooperation, trust, reciprocity and a focus on the common good.


Entrepreneurship as the Number one economic agenda

This paper showed how governors can capture the timely imperative of entrepreneurial ecosystems and pilot or scale successful initiatives. Successfully home-growing startups has the power over time to create a cascading effect through state economies. Supporting entrepreneurship can not only serve as a catalyst for new economic opportunities but also enable a governor to help a wider array of demographic groups. Governors have the opportunity to bring together public and private organizations to spark entrepreneurial initiatives that can revitalize a region.