Fingers crossed…Legs twitching… Beaming Smiles…Ready Minds
It’s the first day of our SMART project and as we prepare to speak with entrepreneurs, non profit leaders and policy makers in the community, we are both excited and nervous about the responses we will receive from this community. The previous night, our team brainstormed potential leading questions to understand the relationship between economic development and entrepreneurship in the mid-south.
Our first interviewee is a young real estate developer who is exploring different market opportunities to open her own small business in New Orleans. She has been an entrepreneur since age 10, starting a jewelry business with a cousin in her neighborhood as a child. Moreover, she recognizes that she has always been inspired by her dad who is also an entrepreneur and believes that these experiences among others have influenced her desire to start her own business. Though this young enthusiastic entrepreneur recognizes that there are a few resources for small businesses in New Orleans; she admits that the expertise and information about these resources are limited.
Thinking about the restrictions associated with resources, we visited the Good Work Network – a business development organization that provides services to women and minorities in Southeast Louisiana. In essence, the organization provides technical assistance and counseling to these community members. In this second meeting, we were exposed to the dynamics of non profits in helping small businesses. We also learned that the opportunities and credibility that comes with being affiliated with businesses such Good Work Network is beneficial to small business enterprises. However, like the young entrepreneur, the leadership of Good Work Network recognized that the constraints for entrepreneurs include: access to capital, markets and resources.
And of course, we couldn’t end the day without eating a good southern food…..