Entrepreneurship and Local Economic Development

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Entrepreneurship and Local Economic Development

Entrepreneurship and Local Economic Development PROGRAMME AND POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Programme has always been the analysis of entrepreneurship strategies used to foster local job creation and economic growth. Over recent years the LEED Programme and its Partner organisations have sponsored numerous conferences and study projects on the themes of entrepreneurship and self-employment. This publication draws together a wide range of insights and sources of information on the local dimension of entrepreneurship gathered in the course of these activities.

Across OECD member countries, the scope, number and growth of entrepreneurship and micro-enterprise support programmes is striking. Much of the policy interest reflects a belief that the creation of new firms will facilitate the achievement of important economic and social objectives. For instance, encouraging entrepreneurship is one of the four pillars of the European Union Employment Guidelines. However, as this publication makes clear, despite widespread policy interest, few studies have systematically examined the relationship between the creation of new firms and local economic development, as distinct from national and regional economic development. In this connection, this publication describes the types of research that should be undertaken to bring about an improved understanding of the key policy issues.

The book examines the principal channels through which the birth of new firms can impact on local economies. These include the creation of employment, increased tax revenues, the improved local provision of services, and positive effects on motivation. The factors that impede entrepreneurial activity in disadvantaged areas are also considered in detail. It is shown that, while enterprise creation can be critical to local economic development, the promotion of entrepreneurship does not constitute a developmental panacea. A number of potential limits to entrepreneurship-oriented strategies – and how these limits can be minimised are discussed at length. When I was the federal Minister responsible for Economic and Regional Development in Canada 20 years ago, I would have found this study invaluable!

Perhaps the books most valuable contribution is to detail the rationales for a set of programmes and policies towards local business creation and development. Comprehensive policy recommendations are offered for national and local levels of government. The recommendations concern three thematic areas: strategy, finance and programme design. It is my hope that these guidelines will assist local and central

governments in the design and implementation of cost-effective measures to foster entrepreneurship.

This publication is one among a number of recent and forthcoming works on the local dimension of entrepreneurship prepared by the LEED Programme. LEED has recently produced studies on business incubation, youth entrepreneurship, social enterprises and micro-credit. Forthcoming work will assess the lessons learned from programmes adopted in the United States to finance entrepreneurship in distressed localities.

And another study will consider how to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of entrepreneurship and other policy tools used by subnational governments. In undertaking this work, exchanges with leading enterprise development agencies across the OECD – through the LEED Partners Club and its Forum on Entrepreneurship – have provided a rich source of practical information. Such exchanges have also afforded a test of the utility and practicability of the formulated policy recommendations.

Donald J. Johnston

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