The Ecosystem Building Leadership Project (EBLP) is an initiative to advance the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field of practice. It launched in March, and has made some significant progress over the past few months.

The goal of EBLP is to collaboratively design, build, test, and validate a field-wide infrastructure that will accelerate adoption of ecosystem building as a practice in economic, community, workforce, and entrepreneurship development in the United States.

After a several months of collaborative online exploration and development, over 70 volunteers convened in Indianapolis in early September to move the project forward. Over the two days of the workshop, nine projects were identified to move the EBLP forward from the following prompts:

  1. Regarding the Field: Imagine the field of entrepreneurship ecosystem building takes center stage; it is consistently adopted among practitioners, funders, policy makers, and others – locally, regionally, and nationally. What would that look like?
  2. Improving the Field: Imagine a learning infrastructure supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem building field widely seen as both efficient and innovative. What would that look like?
  3. Resourcing the Field: Imagine the collective of entrepreneurship ecosystem builders with diverse and sustainable resource streams to support and properly compensate those doing this work. What would that look like?

The result of this effort were the following nine projects:

  • 1. Regarding the Field
    • a. Organization-Targeted Outreach
    • b. Braiding and Blending to Achieve Collective Funding
    • c. Scaling the Startup Act
  • 2. Improving the Field
    • a. Create a Learning Resource Repository
    • b. Online repository linking EB’s to trainings and toolkits
    • c. Skill-based learning and Competency Model with Level 1 Pathways
  • 3. Resourcing the Field
    • a. Resource Content Hub
    • b. Convening to Identify Network Opportunities
    • c. Storytelling to Identify Persuasive Messaging

Since the Indianapolis convening, individual project teams have been working on these nine projects.

Following the Indianapolis workshop, the project has moved into a transition stage with a nomination and voting process to select a provisional council of nine leaders who will serve as a bridge between the current project leadership and the establishment of a longer term governance structure. Members will serve a term that will not exceed the length of 12 months and work to incorporate working teams’ recommendations and feedback from the field throughout the process.

The council will be focused on developing the foundational elements of an effective structure that addresses the priorities of the network and support the nine projects that were launched during the Indianapolis Workshop.

After an extensive nomination and selection process, EBLP announced the nine elected members of the Provisional Council. The nine members of the Provisional Council were selected after an open nomination and anonymous voting process. Five members were selected from their respective Working Teams, and the final four remaining members were selected through a larger online voting process

EBLP Provisional Council Members

  • Dara Macan, National Director Partnerships & Engagement at SourceLink (Charter Working Team)
  • Enoch Elwell, Founder & Board Chair at CO.STARTERS (Governance Working Team)
  • Tarsha Hearns, Senior Director of Ecosystems at Dallas Entrepreneur Center (Communications Working Team)
  • Tiffany Henry, Instructional Designer, Office of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Arkansas Tech University (Network Health Working Team)
  • Pava LaPere, Co-Founder & CEO at EcoMap (Sustainability Working Team)
  • Julie Heath, VP Entrepreneurial Ecosystems at Indiana Economic Development Corporation
  • Fay Horwitt, President & CEO at Forward Cities
  • Charles Ross, President & CEO at International Business Innovation Association
  • Beth Zimmer, Project Manager at Ecosystem Building Leadership Project

With these members in place, the current EBLP leadership team will begin to transition support activities to the Provisional Council over the next few weeks.

Project manager Beth Zimmer is excited about the progress that has been made. “The diverse community that is developing through this network building is filled with 80+ very experienced, highly qualified, and deeply committed entrepreneurship ecosystem builders from across the US. The amount of work that has been accomplished just since March of this year is immense,” said Zimmer.

Zimmer is quick to point out the help and contributions from others in the project. “Hats off to you, Jeff Bennett, for contributing this story and creating EB Hub, the InBIA for hosting the EBLP work on behalf of the field, to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Andy Stoll, for growing & funding the vision, the co-chairs Charles Ross, Dell Gines, & Kristin Leutz, Dr. Brint Milward and his compelling research, the facilitators Jennifer Hunter, Jason Barnes, Scott Hutcheson, and Ed Morrison, support team leaders, Charlton Cunningham & Lindsay Schuenke, and Julie Heath & the State of Indiana for hosting the recent groundbreaking workshop. And a STANDING OVATION for accomplishing Phase One for the EBLP goes to every one of the working team members and the collaborative advisory group! ” said Zimmer.

Immediate next steps for the EBLP project include reviewing recommendation briefs from the project teams in preparation for an initial council meeting with the co-chairs to discuss recommendations and begin transitioning.

Those interested in the project are invited to join the EBLP online community on Tradewing.