The Center for Economic Development (CED) at Cleveland State University’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs and JumpStart Inc. have released their third annual report summarizing the findings of an entrepreneurship confidence survey (conducted from May 30 to June 30, 2008) to assess the entrepreneurial climate and entrepreneurs’ confidence in their ability to start and sustain a business in Northeast Ohio. The 2008 results provide data to compare how entrepreneurs’ confidence has changed since the previous two studies, released in September 2006 and September 2007. CED researchers Ziona Austrian, Ph.D., Director, and David Kasdan, a Ph.D. student at the Levin College, led the effort with JumpStart providing the promotional and technical support to execute the survey.
This year’s results are based on the participation of approximately 280 individuals. Overall, the findings of the survey were positive and many areas remained consistent with responses gathered in the last two studies. Respondents expressed optimism for the long-term prospects of new businesses while still harboring a degree of caution when looking to overcome the short-term economic obstacles that entrepreneurs have been experiencing in Northeast Ohio.
Perceptions reflected overall satisfaction with the attitude of the community, the existing infrastructure in the region, the cultural amenities, the low cost of living, and the quality of the available workforce. Entrepreneurs’ confidence to start and sustain a business was marginally lower than perceptions in previous years, as expected when considered in light of the economic health of the region. As in previous years, the survey revealed that there is a great need to increase access to capital for entrepreneurs. Respondents also feel that there is a need for more responsiveness from government – especially at the county level, as well as more focus and dedication from business resource and assistance agencies.
The predominant trend in respondents’ perceptions was a more favorable outlook by those with long-term horizons to start a business and those who have established their businesses and progressed to later stages of development. This corresponds with the prevailing economic trends of the region and the open-ended comments provided by most respondents. By contrast, entrepreneurs who are on the verge of entering the market or have recently started their business are challenged by the regional economy, especially in terms of accessing capital and obtaining guidance from official business support agencies. There is a lingering perception that the established business community of Northeast Ohio is hesitant to embrace innovative ventures, despite an atmosphere of collegial encouragement among the entrepreneurial community.
“As we look at the findings from the 2008 Entrepreneurship Survey compared to the previous years, we are able to see the trends that are emerging, which will help the region to focus on the areas in need of the most improvement,” said Ray Leach, JumpStart’s Chief Executive Officer. “It is important that we continue to ask regional entrepreneurs about their perceptions to know if regional economic development efforts are moving the needle in Northeast Ohio.”
“We are very pleased to observe trends emerging from the three surveys that confirm the entrepreneurial climate of Cleveland to be optimistic in the face of difficult economic conditions,” added Ziona Austrian, Director of the Center for Economic Development, “The study identified the positive aspects of Northeast Ohio, such as the strength of the local workforce and regional amenities, while also calling attention to the needs of entrepreneurs for better access to capital and government responsiveness.”
The report was funded by the Cleveland State University Presidential Initiative for Economic Development, JumpStart, and the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The complete report, titled “Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurship Confidence Survey: Third-Year Findings” can be found at: http://urban.csuohio.edu/economicdevelopment/publications.html.
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The Center for Economic Development conducts research and offers technical assistance on urban and regional economic issues of interest to local, state, and national policymakers. Primary focus areas include regional economic analysis, regional indicators, economic impact analysis, innovation and entrepreneurship, manufacturing competitiveness, and the role of urban universities in regional development.
The Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs (http://urban.csuohio.edu/) is ranked among the top eight schools of urban affairs in the United States. The College is ranked second in the graduate specialty of city management and urban policy in the U.S. News and World Report’s 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2008 issues of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The College offers many degree programs including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, as well as being the home to Economic Development Quarterly (EDQ), the leading journal in the field of economic development.
JumpStart (www.jumpstartinc.org) is a non-profit venture development organization that accelerates the growth of early-stage businesses and ideas into venture-ready companies by delivering vital, focused resources to entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio. JumpStart identifies and invests in early-stage companies that have strong potential in the marketplace, solid prospects for high growth, and are likely to qualify for later-stage funding. Beyond investing, the JumpStart team provides a continuum of business development services to its client companies to help ensure their success.
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