At the end of the recent special legislative session, we learned that the 2015 biennium budget includes a $250K appropriation for creating an integrated urban and rural entrepreneurial ecosystem in eastern Washington. Thank you to our region’s legislators for their support of this request and entrepreneurship.
The Startup Washington 365 (SW365) appropriation will provide operating dollars to create two rural Centers for Entrepreneurial Success in eastern Washington. These centers will be physical locations where entrepreneurs can meet, share, work, and learn together. They will be linked with the urban entrepreneurial ecosystem in Spokane County. These operating dollars will be used for staffing and programming. Programming includes, but is not limited to, co-working space, establishing a mentor network, education and training, and networking events.
In addition to the physical Centers for Entrepreneurial Success, a regional online community will be established, expanding upon www.startupspokane.com, so that entrepreneurs and small businesses can access an events calendar, support resources, training, blogs, and podcasts on a 24/7 basis.
Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) has led the creation of a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in Eastern Washington. SW365 will leverage this existing work so as to quickly and effectively establish physical Centers for Entrepreneurial Success locations. Once created, it is critically important to integrate the rural locations with the urban ecosystem in Spokane County. Through this integrated urban and rural support model, GSI and rural champions will facilitate collaboration between the ecosystems, enabling entrepreneurs to successfully connect with myriad support resources throughout eastern Washington (i.e. resource guide, service providers, mentors, training, etc).
The diagram below identifies the elements necessary to effectively support entrepreneurship, regardless of physical location. Throughout the region, ecosystems will exist across urban and rural areas, but the level of support may vary depending upon the availability of resources in the respective location. To encourage and support entrepreneurship, GSI and rural champions will facilitate collaboration between ecosystems across eastern Washington. For example, specific support resources and programs that exist in an urban area will be made available to rural communities (i.e. angel investment groups, Startup Weekend, mentors, advisors, and service providers with specific skills and expertise, etc).
As an outcome of the SW365 appropriation, specific operating practices and processes will be established for effective collaboration between urban and rural ecosystems, as well as a model that demonstrates the financial sustainability for urban/rural ecosystems across Washington State. GSI and rural champions will meet regularly to share experiences and best practices so as to enhance and strengthen the collective ecosystems.