SMALL BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEURIAL ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT AND STRATEGY
At Tuesday’s work session, the Fort Worth City Council received an informal report from the city’s Director of Economic Development Robert Sturns on his department’s Small Business and Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Assessment and Strategy.
As part of the Economic Development Strategic Plan adopted by the council in 2017, this is part of the city’s effort to compete successfully on the national and international stages for creative, high-growth businesses and talented individuals who make them so. The vision has three goals:
1. Establish Fort Worth’s competitive edge.
2. Become a hub for creative businesses.
3. Ensure community vitality.
Outlined in the plan are several initiatives and goals associated with entrepreneurship and small businesses. The belief is that a stronger, more connected set of networking channels for entrepreneurs, investors, and tech workers in Fort Worth will also help startups and tech firms already in existence. This same connection could help Fort Worth become a hub of entrepreneurial activity, making the city more attractive to entrepreneurs and high-growth companies from across the metro area, state, and even the nation.
A clear delineation of the support functions available to small businesses will also help the Fort Worth Business Assistance Center and others provide more effective and efficient services to assist in the growth of local firms.
In March, the Fort Worth Local Development Corporation (FWLDC) Board
approved this assessment and strategy, contracting with Camoin & Associates to conduct the analysis. Entreworks Consulting was also engaged in the analysis.
Findings of the report show that of the 15 indicators evaluated among benchmark communities, Fort Worth ranks second. Benchmark communities included Atlanta, Austin, Columbus (Ohio), Kansas City (Missouri), Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Washington D.C.
Still, while ranked No. 2, several areas have been highlighted as needing improvement, including:
*African American self-employment.
Preliminary initiatives suggested to enhance support in these areas include resources such as Sparkyard, along with expanding efforts at the Business Assistance
Center. The need to connect and communicate around Fort Worth’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, both internally and externally, were also highlighted.
“The results of the study were very positive when we compare Fort Worth to our benchmark cities. I think that just speaks to the strength of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Fort Worth,” Sturns said. “There are still some gaps which we will be looking to address over the next year.
“Entrepreneurship has changed significantly since we established the Guinn campus (Office of Small Business) over 20 years ago. In order to remain effective, this study was important to assess our strengths and weakness to determine how we can best serve our entrepreneurs in the future.”