Laura Fisher (and a cast of thousands) is organizing Ann Arbor Startup Weekend, June 20-22 2008 in downtown Ann Arbor.
There’s a nice story in the Ann Arbor News about the event; I’ll excerpt:
The intent of the event, which has been held in several cities throughout the country, is to start the weekend with no formal business plans and emerge a few days later with a couple of real companies.
Fisher’s job is to collect as many business-minded people as possible to bring their ideas and expertise. When the weekend rolls around Friday, June 20, the group will break into teams, choose some of the best ideas and get to work.
“I call it guerilla economic development,” she said.
It can be challenging for traditional economic development practitioners to wrap their heads around support for entrepreneurship. I dug this up from the Kellogg-funded RUPRI Center for Rural Entrepreneurship:
Economic development practitioners are reluctant to abandon the traditional tools of their trade: development of natural resources, industrial attraction and small business retention and expansion. These tools worked in the past and, absent a new toolkit, we tend to continue with the same, familiar strategies.
The outcomes of investing in entrepreneurship occur over the long-term, and individual successes often don’t lend themselves to public ribbon cuttings. Helping an artisan tap new regional markets via the Internet may increase sales and establish a successful business, but it can’t compete with the headlines resulting from a branch plant opening.
This can explain some of the strained relationships that sometimes happen between entrepreneurs and economic development groups – the measures of success don’t happen on the same time or size scales between the two groups. This doesn’t mean that people will be hostile to each other, or that they won’t appreciate each others commitments to the process – just that the traditional economic development organization has funding and accountability which simply doesn’t let it be a “guerrilla” agency.