Building Entrepreneur-Friendly Communities in Ohio

July 3, 2023

A dynamic local economy – it’s what all communities strive to achieve. While large businesses or manufacturing contribute to a healthy economy, economic development professionals know that thriving local business and entrepreneur development is also essential. However, building a culture that nurtures, supports, and grows entrepreneurial development may not come naturally for all communities.

Many local leaders of smaller communities, particularly those in Ohio’s Appalachian region, often do not understand the key role they play in helping to create a local environment that is supportive of entrepreneurship. Often, when entrepreneurs do attempt to start businesses, they may find that supportive services and resources are difficult to access or do not exist in the community.

The Building an Entrepreneur-Friendly Community (BEFC) program can help local leaders, elected officials, and the business community better understand how to play a more active role in developing a dynamic and diverse local economy that includes strong home-grown businesses. BEFC teaches community and business leaders to better understand, identify and address key issues to develop an enabling culture necessary to effectively support local entrepreneurial growth and success.

The BEFC program includes three interactive modules, providing the resources, training, and tools to develop community capacity to better understand and strengthen entrepreneurial efforts and assist with creating an entrepreneur-specific strategic plan of action.

Module 1: Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Understanding Entrepreneurs will help participants understand the value and contribution of entrepreneur-based enterprises in the local economy. Reviewing and discussing an Entrepreneur Wellness Profile, specific to that community, will enable the local team to understand the economic profile of their community, become more aware of the characteristics and needs of entrepreneurs, and identify ways to strengthen and support local business development. Hosting a panel of local business owners, the participants will also hear from entrepreneurs about what works well in their community and what needs to be improved to support and grow local entrepreneur opportunities.

Module 2: Elements of a Successful Entrepreneurship Program will share the necessary elements of an enabling culture for local entrepreneurship and discuss strategies to identify, reach out to, and engage entrepreneurs. Participants will also explore the various roles that public officials can play in maintaining and growing an environment that nurtures and supports entrepreneurs.

Module 3: Developing a Focused Entrepreneurship Strategic Plan will walk the local team through the planning process to build a plan that includes strategic goals and actions focused on growing and supporting local entrepreneurial engagement. Participants will conclude the program with a plan that creates opportunities for collaboration, identifies effective allocation of resources, and creates realistic goals to move the community forward.

The BEFC Program can be taught to local participants by the BEFC Team in three half-day workshops or shared as a curriculum with folks in a community who may want to facilitate the program themselves. For more information visit  or contact any of the BEFC Team members below.

Nancy Bowen-Ellzey (, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Community Economies

Myra Moss (, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development

Becky Nesbitt (, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development

Gwynn Stewart (, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development

Kyle White (, OSU Extension Educator, Community Development

In memoriam: We would like to acknowledge our colleague and friend, Godwin Apaliyah, Extension Educator, CD, who was a member of this team and instrumental in helping to develop and present this program.