Economic gardening: Part I

Over the past two decades, communities across the country have begun fostering economic growth from within using a technique called economic gardening.  This technique is a response designed to reduce dependence on the traditional targets of economic development – large industry.

The benefits of an entreprenuerial society are immense.  Number one among them – profits from an entreprenuerial venture stay in the community.  Others include fostering economic independence; taking ownership of the community’s future; and increasing civic engagement of the public through a wider stakeholder network.

This technique’s very name, economic gardening,  is descriptive and can be summed up by making a direct analogy to your backyard vegetable garden.  

In this entry we will talk about the first steps you need to take in your new, downtown economic garden.

The first step toward a successful garden is making a plan.  Decide what you want to grow and make sure you prepare the soil to nurture that crop.  You need to remove the weeds, aerate or till the soil and probably fertilize.

Similarly, you need to prepare your downtown for entreprenuers. Decide what markets your community can serve and begin planning to nurture those niches.  Removing blight and onerous regulations is the weeding part.  Having a shed full of flexible incentives like those offered through an enterprize zone, facade grants and helpful promotions could be the fertilizer you need.

Part II will discuss seeding your garden with new businesses.

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