At CO.STARTERS, our team has the privilege of working with several groups of transformational leaders. Two of those groups are entrepreneurs and economic developers.

Superficially, these groups may appear to have little in common.

Economic developers usually work in the public sector and must take a systems-level approach to creating economic opportunity. The nature of the field often requires them to balance competing local political priorities in their quest to attract new employers and new jobs to their community.

Entrepreneurs are creatures of the private sector and are usually focused on solving very specific market driven problems. They create economic…


During the nineties, the Chicago Bulls dominated the NBA by focusing primarily on developing homegrown talent. The Oakland Athletics invented the “Moneyball” craze a decade ago by recognizing they could not compete if they based their strategy on recruiting high-priced free agents. Most successful sports teams embrace the notion that sustainable success cannot be bought.

You have to build it.

When we apply the experiences from the sports world trying to live out Next Economy principles, it seems that economic development can often feel like a never-ending free agent season, only this time the recruitment target is a corporate site…


If we’ve spent time together-or if you read my blog posts-you will know that I don’t spend a lot of time on small talk. I am drawn to people who think about big ideas. I prefer to find out what drives a person or a community, to understand why we do what we do, and where that journey will take us. I seek to develop our collective vision for a better world and believe in encouraging each other as we figure out how to get there.

In this moment in history, as we experience massive shifts that shake the foundations…


Open your phone, select your favorite feed, and start scrolling. If you think hard about what you are seeing and reading, one thing is abundantly clear: We are on the brink of an unfamiliar world. Most of us are standing on the edge, trying to peer over and see what that brand-new world will look like. Will there be economic opportunity for all? Will there finally be equity in healthcare? Will every child be equipped with the education and relationships needed to thrive, regardless of where they are born? …


Sociologists use various terms to describe collections of people. A group of people living in the same household and sharing legal and/or biological bonds is a “family.” A collection of people organized toward achieving shared economic goals is a “business.” A group of people sharing a defined geographic area is known by several names, including “city,” “town,” “region,” “state,” and “nation.”

How do we measure the health of each of these groups?

In a family we might talk about shared love and the ability to develop mutually beneficial, non-toxic relationships. In a business we might talk about revenue and profitability…


Beneath the tragedy and turmoil of 2020, there is a clear cry for something new. There is a cry to remove the social infrastructure that makes getting quality healthcare and relief from a raging pandemic often impossible. There is a cry for a society where your skills and talent-and not your skin color-determines your ability to achieve your potential. There is a cry to move from the broken economy we have to the resilient economy we need.

How can we do that?

To begin with, we need passionate engagement from at least 3.5% of the population. Research shows even a…


How changing our words might change the way we work with entrepreneurs.

Words are powerful, and they shape our perception of reality. But how much can the perception of one word impact the activities associated with it?

In recent years, the idea of entrepreneurship has become more popular than ever. There have been more and more news stories about entrepreneurship-celebrating disruptive technologies, industry-changing innovation, unicorns, acquisitions, IPOs, and the success stories of high-profile founders like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. In many ways, this kind of tech entrepreneur is the new rockstar for our culture.

Despite the recent popularity of these ideas and terms, research shows there continues to be a steady…


A Model for Starting and Sustaining an Entrepreneurial Community

Entrepreneurial culture is changing

There’s something exciting afoot if you look through the negative national narrative on the decline of small cities and towns across the United States. Despite suffering significant economic loss which spawns a culture of grim survival, a growing number of communities are beginning to break free of the past in an unexpected comeback. Taking local institutional leaders by surprise, rapid economic and cultural transformation is occurring in unlikely places, often led by strange grassroots groups of creatives and non-traditional entrepreneurs. A new type of entrepreneurial culture is springing up everywhere.

While exhilarating to experience, the dynamics and drivers behind these…


Exploring the Many Roles of Ecosystem Building

As the ecosystem building approach to economic and community development gains interest and credibility, the title of “ecosystem builder” has emerged to represent a specific type of community leader. This title signifies important distinctions in the intended outcomes as well as the type of economic development activities a leader pursues. Ecosystem building as an activity is founded on emerging principles of our future economy: a shift toward valuing collaboration over competition, an emphasis on the network over the nodes, and a mindset of abundance over scarcity.

While the emergence of the term “ecosystem builder” has helped to clarify these foundational…


Developing New Business Models for the Connected Age

As CO.STARTERS has worked as a leader in the emerging field of entrepreneurial ecosystem building — which is essentially about building dense networks of trust, both institutional and personal, to support entrepreneurs — we find our work positioned in the middle of a unique combination of players:

  • Grassroots leaders and local ecosystem builders, who use the business support programs and ecosystem building tools we offer
  • Starters, who benefit directly and indirectly from our offerings
  • National collaborators who share our mission to nurture thriving entrepreneur communities

Our team at CO.STARTERS has gradually realized we are not just collaborating with these players…

Enoch Elwell

Founder and Visionary at CO.STARTERS | Connecting and helping starters and ecosystem builders everywhere.

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