Why Ecosystem-Building has Emerged as a New Approach to Economic Development

Jeff Bennett
Published in
6 min readNov 3, 2018

Ecosystem-building Needed to Prevent Economic Stagnation & Mitigate Economic Inequality

In a recent EShip Summit newsletter, Andy Stoll, from the Kauffman Foundation asked;

“Why Ecosystem Building, and Why Now?”

and followed up with an invitation to ecosystem builders to discuss the issue:

“Explain why ecosystem building has emerged as a new approach to economic development.”

I’m fairly new to ecosystem building. I first got involved with ecosystem building in the Sacramento startup community as an organizer of local Startup Weekends. Lured in by the appeal and impact of supporting entrepreneurs in our region, I cofounded StartupSac, a non-profit with the mission to “accelerate Sacramento’s startup and innovation ecosystem by informing, educating, empowering, and connecting its startup founders and innovators.” In doing so, I had no idea I had become this thing called an ecosystem builder.

While I’ve had no formal training in economic development, long before getting involved in the local startup community, I had questioned the efficacy of chasing huge corporations with incentives to get them to relocate to a region in the name of economic development. So the question posed by Andy piqued my interest and drove me to research the factors that have driven the need for a new approach to economic development.

Coincidentally, I’d also been reading the 2017 Startup Genome Report. As it turns out, the authors of that report spent several pages outlining the context of startup ecosystems and included several references for other good background information, all lending significant insight into why ecosystem-building has emerged as a favored mechanism for economic development.

It would seem that global events over the last several years have put a lot of pressure on traditional approaches to economic development. For instance, the world has been undergoing a transformation from the Industrial Era to the Information Era, for decades, putting incredible pressure on traditional businesses and industries. The Great Recession exacerbated the situation for many. Businesses, industries, and even regions already under pressure from the…

Jeff Bennett

Exploring ideas, innovations, and technologies to adapt faster and better in a world of accelerating change.