In this panel discussion for the 2020 National Black Political Convention, Dr. Lisa talks with Elroy P. Sailor of Harvest Health & Recreation and Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO David Harrington.
Micro & Mighty: Driving Local Economic Development with Very Small Business
What does it mean to be a successful entrepreneur in 2020? Could fostering a broader mix of business models in our communities be the key to economic development and growth? The National Black Political Convention is a gathering of political leaders, scholars, activists, and observers with history and hefty professional credentials. However, any discussion of entrepreneurship invariably turns to small business concerns as defined by the SBA. In this panel session, we explore and discuss the impact of microbusinesses and techpreneurs on the local economy, along with ways for these business owners to be more involved and engaged where they live
Microbusinesses (businesses with fewer than 10 full-time employees, and most often fewer than 5) take many forms. From the techpreneur team running a network of websites, to the AirBnB superhost couple with properties in several neighborhoods, to the enterprising owner of the mobile boutique, to the independent consultant managing contracts with several large businesses. They vary widely in industry, income, and expertise. However, they do share some common challenges.
The most notable challenge is often a disconnect from local entities. Whether it is being largely disregarded by established business groups or being unable to qualify for contracts due to arcane regulations – it can be a challenge to grow and thrive where you live.
There is also the challenge of excelling in a business model that isn’t fully understood by peers or even supporters. While many business owners turn to online groups and forums for peer support and discussion, many times these discussions devolve into simple commiseration since others are often in the same boat. Connecting with the local Chamber and building with the support of local government – especially the Department of Economic Development – could be the glue that weaves these very small businesses into the fabric of a community. The opportunities for mentorship, collaboration, and sharing expertise gained from years navigating the business world are invaluable to these emerging professionals. Likewise, the fresh perspective of exploring new solutions to old problems provides the opportunity for business owners leading more traditional businesses to grow. The result would be a true blend of economic diversity that drives community strength, sustainable growth, and longevity.