An Economic Gardening Project in Michigan: Libraries as Strategic Partners in Local Economic Development Efforts Barbara Fails – MSU Land Policy Institute Liz Kudwa – Capital Area District Library Laura Leavitt – MSU Business Library Nicolette Sosulski – Portage District Library MLA Annual Conference – November 4, 2009
Agenda Economic gardening as a model of economic development Information needs of the entrepreneur 2 Case studies Woodworking company Cutting tools company Lessons learned / future directions
“Economic Gardening” • Community based support for entrepreneurs • System of services, resources, infrastructure • Strategy for economic development • Entrepreneurs create jobs • Grow your own (vs. recruiting) • Michigan pilot modeled after Littleton, Colo. • Focus on serving growth oriented companies • Business coaching • Strategic information (competitive intelligence)
Michigan Pilot Program Partners Small Business Assoc. Mich. Growing Local Economies Shepherd Advisors Michigan Library Association MSU (Agriculture, LPI, Business Library, Product Center) Library of Michigan USDA Tuscola County Keweenaw, Houghton Counties
Client – Coach - Researcher The Process Pre-qualify clients ID need for information Research and report Develop strategies The Research Customers Competitors Markets Trends
Pilot Program Service Delivery Model Community Model MSU MLA EG Consultant Service Providers Coach Public Data Sources Coach Community Librarian Coach Entrepreneur’s Path
Key Questions Information needs of entrepreneurs fall into a few main categories: • Who are my competitors? • Who are my target customers? • What are the characteristics of my market? • What are the trends and developments in my industry? Source: Christine Hamilton-Pennell, Michigan Train the Trainer presentation, September 2008, http://www.growinglocaleconomies.com.
Key Question 1 Who are my competitors? • Who else is in my space? • What are their basic offerings (product, service, price, market strategies, delivery method, etc.)? • With whom could I partner?
Key Question 2 Who are my target customers? • What are their characteristics? • Do they want what I have to offer? • What will they pay for it? • In my customers’ eyes, what differentiates me from my competitors? • Where can I get lists of potential customers to let them know about my offerings?
Key Question 3 What are the characteristics of my market? • How large is it? • Is it shrinking or growing? • What are the potential niches? • What are the channels of distribution to get my offerings to the market?
Key Question 4 What are the trends / developments in my industry? • What are the current trends? • What are the future forecasts? • Who are the industry leaders? • Companies • People • What are the best practices? • How is technology impacting the industry? • How do I stay up to date?
EG Case Study 1 Woodworking Company • Goal: expand business/get new customers • Increase reach of existing products by providing lists of potential new customers • Identify industry trends • Librarian role: • Research suggested new markets/customers • Resources used • Time commitment
EG Case Study 2 Cutting Tools company • Goal: expand business/get new customers • Increase reach of existing products • Librarian role: • Research suggested new markets • Resources used • Time commitment
Lessons Learned Collaboration/teamwork is vital. Must manage expectations from the beginning. Synthesizing data and making recommendations can be challenging. Quality business information can be elusive and/ or expensive. Primary research often needed. Time consuming.
Opportunities for MI Libraries Libraries have a vital role to play in the health of local economies Facilitate access to valuable business information Share expertise in searching and organizing information with community partners Refer clients to appropriate service providers Provide meeting space and access to technology
Join Us! MLA’s Economic Development Community of Practice Collaboration, support & toolkit Advice on determining the level of need, when to help and when to refer Development of asset map of MI service providers Development of free list of free business info resources Support for identifying and reaching out to community partners Support for increasing comfort level with business information