School of Management project aims to help communities benchmark their efforts to "attract, cultivate, build and hold entrepreneurial firms"

October 20, 2008

DEARBORN / Oct. 20, 2008--- Auburn Hills, Dundee, Plymouth Township, Southfield, Tecumseh and Troy were identified as communities that are “top performers at attracting and retaining entrepreneurial firms” in a study by researchers at the University of Michigan-Dearborn School of Management.

Those communities will be honored at a ceremony at UM-Dearborn on Oct. 22.

The 2008 “eCities” study (or “the Entrepreneurial Cities Index”) found that many southeast Michigan municipalities “are hard at work attracting, cultivating, building and holding entrepreneurial firms.”

The study, conducted by iLabs, the Center for Innovation Research in the UM–Dearborn School of Management, focuses on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan’s regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation.

This second annual UM-Dearborn study found that successful communities work with entrepreneurial businesses to determine their needs and carry out relationship marketing akin to private sector firms.

“Economic development agencies, local chambers of commerce, and state agencies all are instrumental in helping bring firms to a community,” said Timothy Davis, director of iLabs. “Successful local governments also have professional and empowered staffs who champion new businesses, leading them to solutions and acting as a conduit for networking.”

For this year’s report, the UM-Dearborn researchers developed an online interface to allow communities to enter public data and 36 communities in southeastern Michigan took part in the study, up from 14 in 2007.

The UM-Dearborn study used the data supplied by the communities as well as other public records to assemble a six-factor, 31-item index to measure entrepreneurial activity, looking at such factors as “clustering,” incentives, growth, policies, community and education.

What are the factors that distinguished the top-performing cities? “Each community uses strategies that match their overall goals and community culture,” Davis said. “While no single solution is right for all cities, common themes and trends emerge.”

The leading communities balance the use of incentives, offering abatements selectively with respect to industry and impact.

“Interviews with local leaders provided many success stories, where innovative and imaginative partnering between government and business has created an atmosphere of cooperation that provides a positive impact for both community and business,” Davis said. “Entrepreneurial firms that offer high-quality jobs help entice creative people to live, work and play in these communities.”

The findings from eCities 2008 identify some “best practices” for local communities, and provide a tool for cities, townships and villages to benchmark their efforts and share the tools of success, Davis said.

“Continuation and expansion of the eCities project will create a body of knowledge and subsequent skills and tools to assist local communities in attracting entrepreneurial talent,” Davis said. “With application of skills comes economic development and job growth.”

Davis conducted the study with help from students Jeff Dancho and Cheryl McIntyre.

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PHONE: 313-593-5518
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