Based on data from, the United States created 14,120,119 new jobs during the decade from 1998 to 2008. 99% of those new jobs were created by resident commercial firms - standalone local businesses or businesses with headquarters in the same state. All of that growth came from self-employment, start-ups and second stage companies. In fact, stage four businesses - firms with 500 or more employees - actually shed more than 3 million jobs during that ten year period.

With those kind of growth numbers, how can any regional economic development strategy not focus on entrepreneurs? But it is also true that a majority of start-up ventures fail in the few years. This means that chambers of commerce and regional economic development entities have an important role to play in entrepreneurship support.

Some support many start-up ventures need:
  • Loan guarantees and other financial assistance
  • Assistance with government forms and compliance
  • Low-cost training on topics like: marketing, hiring and firing, management, and budgeting
  • One-on-one conseling to develop a business plan and organize operations
  • Connections to potential customers, suppliers, partners and expert advisors
  • Opportunities for peer learning
  • Help with patents
  • Business Incubation - info at International Business Innovation Association

Entrepreneurial Culture

Working extensively with entrepreneurs may require a culture shift at your chamber. As former Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce (N.C.) president and CEO Casey Steinbacher, CCE has said, “young entrepreneurs aren't just younger, they are fundamentally different.”

Embracing the Challenge: The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Imperative for Chambers of Commerce
This 2017 report demonstrates entrepreneurship opportunities by chambers who embrace a growth among minority-owned enterprises, some of the fastest growing businesses.

Turning Yourself Upside Down
Check out this Chamber Executive article for more perspective on developing an organizational culture that appeals to entrepreneurs.

A Thirst for Entrepreneurship
For youth entrepreneurship, drink in this article on a model Lemonade Day event at the Galveston Chamber. See also CIPE's Guide to Youth Entrepreneurship Programs for Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations (2013, Center for International Private Enterprise)

Silicon Prairie News
For some perspective on how entrepreneurs think, communicate and interact, spend some time with Silicon Prairie News - a digital media company dedicated to highlighting and supporting entrepreneurs, creatives and investors through an emerging model for grassroots entrepreneurial ecosystem development in and around Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City.

Marketing, Branding and Education Programs

Bull City Startup Stampede
Greater Durham (NC) Chamber of Commerce
A handful of aspiring entrepreneurs share office space and Wi-Fi in downtown Durham for 60 days to see who can go from concept to company. Along the way they meet with lawyers, bankers, marketers and proven entrepreneurs to refine and inform their plans. Sound like a reality TV show? It’s way cooler…

Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!)
This program, born from a chamber-university partnership in upstate New York, develops entrepreneurial spirit in young people.

Boise (ID) Metro Chamber of Commerce
A start-up program born out of the Young Professional network where entrepreneur mentors have skin in the game.

The World’s Smallest Office
Greater Durham (NC) Chamber of Commerce
Chamber program incubates a start-up and extends the marketing reach of the distinctive Durham vibe.


American Underground
A newly launched, tech-focused incubator in Durham, NC.

bioCube San Jose
BioCube provides flexible office space, access to state-of-the-art lab facilities, and business support to promising life science, nanotech, and cleantech startup companies.

Power Plant Business Incubator
Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership
Partnership between the Chamber, City and County. Offers assistance to a wide range of startups. A 2015 Industry Exemplar. See Program Synopsis.

thInc Space
Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce
As the first of its kind incubator and co-working facility in Waco, thInc Space was part incubator, part community gathering place, and part professional support network for creative startups and entrepreneurs. See Program Synopsis.

More information available at: National Business Incubator Association (NBIA)

Award-Winning Chamber Examples

Chambers with Entrepreneurial Training Programs & Services

Other Resources

Census Business Builder
Data to help start or grow a business and understand the business landscape for a region.

Edward Lowe Foundation
The Edward Lowe Foundation embraces the concept of "economic gardening," a proven economic development strategy based on the fundamental concept that entrepreneurs drive economies, and focuses primarily on second-stage companies. Second-stage companies are commercial firms with 10-99 employees, more than $1 million on annual revenue and a proven product. Explore their site for information on economic gardening and programs to support second stage entrepreneurs.

The Kauffman Foundation
The vision of the Kauffman Foundation is to foster “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.” They focus grant making and activities on advancing entrepreneurship, fostering innovation and improving the education of children and youth. Explore their site for a wealth of information and turnkey programs.

Kauffman Index of Startup Activity
Maps, rankings, and reports, each focused on a different aspect of entrepreneurial activity.

Related Chamberpedia Pages

Chamberpedia Home| Economic and Community Development | Entrepreneurship

Last Updated: 9/12/2018

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