Recently, Ray Leach of the nationally recognized JumpStart program spoke at an Orlando Inc. annual member meeting. Based on the 2016 Milken Institute study, Ray said that Orlando is currently ranked #9 in the nation in terms of relative growth among metropolitan areas of comparable size. This is good news for Orlando and for the entrepreneurs who drive economic growth.
What would it take for Orlando to be the #1 performing large US city?
The top five lessons that Leach has learned which help communities build a high-performing entrepreneurial eco-system are:
- Public, private, philanthropic, and institutional leadership engagement and alignment is crucial. Find leaders and partners who will directly benefit from economic outcomes and who care more about outcomes than receiving credit.
- The journey may seem long and may require significant resources, but communities should start modestly and continue to iterate while optimizing the model and partnerships. Communities must remain flexible and nimble.
- Communities should appreciate single, double, and triple bottom line outcomes and benefits, so work can create a significant economic impact for the entire region.
- Economic development capabilities at the local level need to find new ways to help high-potential startups and scaleup firms who can create significant numbers of new jobs and generate significant financial returns to support future efforts.
- It takes really smart, experienced people focused on helping startups and scaleup firms with significant risk capital to catalyze meaningful growth.
Clearly, the five lessons outlined by Ray cannot be accomplished in the short term. According to Ray, Orlando already has many of the elements necessary for continued growth-including a dynamic entrepreneurial eco-system common to all high-performing economic regions. Ray noted that the JumpStart model was based on many of the same principles and services currently delivered by the GrowFL Economic Gardening® program based at UCF and related resources provided by Canvas, FireSpring Fund and Starter Studio. He suggested that JumpStart could be described as “GrowFL on steroids.”
Apparently, we are on the right track.