Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

We are committed to helping revitalization professionals lead and develop initiatives that support innovative entrepreneurship.


Sustainable, Robust Local Economies

In cities and towns across the country, fostering entrepreneurship has become a key component to most economic development strategies. And while different types of entrepreneurs have different needs, there is a common framework of conditions and supports that are particularly conducive to a thriving entrepreneurial culture. Taken together, these conditions and supports are frequently referred to as Entrepreneurial Ecosystems.

Entrepreneurial Ecosystems align a variety of public and private efforts, networks, and other factors including government policies, funding and finance, social capital, place assets, regulatory frameworks, and more.

When aligned, these elements provide the necessary financial, social, and human capital to foster inclusive, local entrepreneurship in innovative and creative ways. In this way, the ecosystem model mobilizes the entire community to support local business start-ups, business growth or expansion, and transitioning businesses. From a drop-in space to marketing and from business law to financing, the idea is to surround the start-up with key elements for success.

How can Main Streets play a role?

Successful Entrepreneurial Ecosystems depend on cross-sector partnerships and collaboration. Main Street programs are in a prime position to convene key partners to assess gaps and opportunities within the local ecosystem.

Additionally, the importance of place is often missing from the dialogue around Entrepreneurial Ecosystems. Place factors include both the physical environment and community amenities that attract and retain entrepreneurs, along with the physical spaces and programming that support and nurture their launch and growth (eg. Pop-ups, Maker Spaces, Night Kitchens, etc.). Main Streets are well-positioned to bring this place-based perspective to the table and help ensure that entrepreneurship support strategies leverage the distinct sense of place that makes your commercial district unique.  


The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Audit

While entrepreneurship ecosystem building has been cultivated organically in many technology hubs like Silicon Valley, there is an acute need for tools to assist this process in communities with more limited resources and capacity.

To further the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem building movement, MSA developed through a series of pilot projects, a new tool to facilitate conversation and actions around support systems for entrepreneurs. The new Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Audit is a self-evaluation tool that will help community leadership determine where they fall on a spectrum of support for local entrepreneurs and more importantly, where efforts can be made to strengthen that support.

How to Use

The Audit is divided into seven factors (placed-based, government policy/regulations, financial capital, social capital, education and training, culture, and human capital/workforce) Within each factor, there are a set of indicators, 35 total. Each indicator is assigned a score between 5 – 9 depending on its relative importance to a strong overall ecosystem.

We encourage you to explore the tool and test it out in your community. Complete it yourself, and then share with others and see how your scores compare. Share it with local entrepreneurs, technical services providers, civic leaders, and more. You may be surprised to see discrepancies in scores across the seven factors, depending on who’s filling out the Audit. Those discrepancies – or any areas that consistently rank low - are useful starting points for a meaningful conversation about how to address gaps in your Entrepreneurial Ecosystem.



Creative Approaches

Learn creative approaches to place-based entrepreneurship to position your Main Street for long-term success.



Market Analysis

Learn how to assess the economic condition of your commercial district.




Learn the building blocks of entrepreneurial ecosystems and how to build and support an entrepreneurial economy.