SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversation – September 2023

SourceLink Continues to Grow, Adding New Staff and Affiliates 

Welcome to our new SourceLink staff member, Solomon Lee. Solomon will serve as a project manager and brings considerable expertise to our team. Prior to joining SourceLink, Solomon was with Louisiana Economic Development, where he helped implement the Louisiana Business Hub platform statewide and across multiple regions. 

In addition to adding staff, our affiliated network continues to grow and we extend a big welcome to the City and County of Honolulu and the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, which is a coalition that includes REI Oklahoma, Greater OKC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the City of Oklahoma Economic Development. For staff and affiliate updates, we warmly welcome Elizabeth Wilkerson with Thomas Entrepreneurship Hub (formerly SEEN), and Tommy Wartman who is with Grow North Wisconsin and The GRID WI 

SourceLink just wrapped up entrepreneurship ecosystem assessment projects in partnership with our close friends at the National League of Cities. Congratulations to the communities of Lakeland, FL, Stockton, CA, Omaha, NE and Montgomery, AL for their excellent work identifying and better connecting entrepreneurs with area resources. We are excited to gear up with our next cohort of six or so communities this coming year.

Cheers to the Acadiana Region of Louisiana Business Hub on their launch. Louisiana Business Hub has now launched four of its eight regions.  


Affiliate Network News and Events 

Colmena66 developed a small business disaster preparedness quiz for entrepreneurs, capitalizing on the fact they are in hurricane season and through different surveys gathered data about some vulnerabilities entrepreneurs have. The site is in Spanish, but you can use the translate tool to see it in English.

Congrats to West Virginia BusinessLink and Colmena66 on their successful entrepreneurship celebrations. Bridging Innovation Week is West Virginia’s premier entrepreneurship event held annually that served over 1,000 participants across 12 events in 2023 and recently published plans for their 2024 event. 

Colmena66 sponsored their 5th annual BE Fest – Boricua Emprende Fest this August. Samuel Merced Matos and Gian Ortiz Perales shared event details and its impact with us. The resource partner network and entrepreneurs submitted ideas and helped structure the agenda. Sessions were directed to the entire entrepreneurial system including small business owners, startups, freelancers, college students, entrepreneurs at every stage, businesses across all industries, diaspora, academic institutions, business support organizations and local, state and federal government and entrepreneurs support organizations that support them. The Boricua Fest included 135 speakers, 52 educational sessions, 70 resource partners exhibiting at expo and 27 mentors. In addition to educational sessions, the agenda included coffee talks (bite-sized shorter sessions for entrepreneurs), mentoring sessions, networking sessions and Labs (topic-specific tracks that provided diverse content for all audiences). To be cognizant of inclusion, sign language interpretation and English to Spanish translation was available during the event. 

Colmena66 created 22 marketing campaigns including more than 200 social media mentions, social media reach of 771K and acquired more than 4,600 new social media followers. More than 1800 participants attended the Boricua Fest. Forty percent had already established businesses and twenty percent represented business support organizations. Evaluations indicated the expo and coffee talks were the most popular sessions. Sponsors rated the event 4.6 of 5.0 and 9 of 10 vendors would recommend participation as a sponsor to another business/organization.  

Big, collaborative, events like Boricua Fest, Bridging Innovation Week and national events like Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) can help strengthen, leverage, and empower your network. These events give entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect and learn from one another and can serve to greatly increase your local network’s impact. We highly recommend learning from Colmena66, West Virginia BusinessLink and others who engage like this to see how these kinds of activities can fuse your entrepreneurial ecosystem for even greater visibility and impact. 

SourceLink director, Rob Williams and Business Development Director, Krista Markley attended the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) conference in Dallas, TX in September and visited with affiliates in attendance including Lisa Smith, Evergreen BizLink, Darryl Washington, City of Montgomery, AL, Rebecca Moudry, Fairfax CORE, Denisse Colon Rodriguez, Colmena66 and Amy Asselbaye, City and County of Honolulu. They also connected with staff members at Source Dallas Jesse Saldana and Anthony Barwick, at the Small Business Center located at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas, and Marco Johnson and Cameron Cushman at Sparkyard in Fort Worth. A special shout out to Denisse who led the groundbreaking Spanish-speaking panel in the opening plenary that shared strategies to drive equitable economic opportunities in Latin America and throughout the developing world.  

IEDC is making a concerted effort to put entrepreneurship front and center. It is the premier association in our field of ecosystem building. We encourage you to get involved especially in leadership roles to help shape future efforts, from earning your Entrepreneurship Development Professional Designation, to discovering entrepreneurship professional development courses and networking opportunities 


Impact Storytelling for Effective Entrepreneurship-Led Economic DevelopmentGlobal Entrepreneurship Week 

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2023 is just around the corner and SourceLink is offering a webinar as part of the celebration! Join us on Tuesday, November 14 at 12:00 p.m. CT for “Impact Storytelling for Effective Entrepreneurship-Led Economic Development” where you’ll hear from experienced ecosystem builders on their experiences gathering data and how they shared it. 

Guest speakers include Maria Meyers, Founder of SourceLink and Executive Director of the University of Missouri Kansas City Innovation Center; Dr. Lomax Campbell, Founder and CEO of Third Eye Network, LLC; Cameron Cushman, Assistant Vice President of Innovation Ecosystems at HSC Fort Worth; Tom Chapman, Founder and Managing Principal of Chapman & Company and moderator, Rob Williams, Director of SourceLink. 

Register now to learn best practices for data collection and storytelling. Attendance is limited to 100 participants, so be sure to register today. 


A Tribute to Pava LaPere 

The ecosystem building and economic development community suffered the terrible loss of a tremendous ally and fearless advocate last month. Pava LaPere was a good friend of SourceLink and many of our affiliates, and a staunch supporter of our shared vision of championing entrepreneurs. Pava was a successful serial entrepreneur and her technology company, EcoMap, has helped many of us do our work supporting small businesses better. She loved her EcoMap team and pursued their mission with a fierce passion that inspired and energized everyone around her. Nationally, she stepped forward to lead through her advocacy and action. Our team was able to see her work firsthand most closely through her leadership on the provisional council of the Ecosystem Building Leadership Project. Put simply: our entire field is in a better place because we had Pava helping to lead it. She is sincerely missed, and our thoughts are with her family and the EcoMap team during this difficult time. 


Supporting Second Stage Businesses 

In our effort to share topics of interest and hear from individuals and organizations who share their best practices, we welcomed Paul Bateson, General Manager of External Relations and Joy Kitamori, Partner Relationship Manager from the Edward Lowe Foundation as guest presenters at our SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversation. The Edward Lowe Foundation’s initiatives are focused on second-stage companies — growth-oriented firms that have moved beyond startup but haven’t yet reached maturity.   

The Edward Lowe Foundation was created in 1985 by the inventor of kitty litter, Edward Lowe, a successful entrepreneur and his wife and partner, Darlene. The foundation provides programs by partnering with economic development organizations around the country to support primarily second stage businesses who want to grow. The programs help second stage business owners face their challenges in isolation, access to information and leadership development.  


Edward Lowe Foundation Partnership with Louisiana Economic Development 

Since 2012, the Edward Lowe Foundation has partnered with SourceLink affiliate Louisiana Economic Development (LED) to assist with their efforts to support second stage businesses. Patrick Witty, Executive Director of Community Competitiveness & Small Business Services; Stephanie Hartman, Director, Community Competitiveness & Small Business Services, Chris Cassagne. Assistant Director, Community Competitiveness & Small Business Services also joined the conversation to share their experiences.  

LED identified a gap in support resources for second stage businesses. They had programs for early-stage businesses and incentive programs for large businesses and industries, but not for second-stage firms. They connected with the Edward Lowe Foundation and launched a pilot program in 2011 to provide strategic research to Louisiana second stage companies. Four years later they began offering CEO Roundtables that gave peer-to-peer learning. Today 8-10 programs are offered to second stage companies in Louisiana, including Peer to Peer Learning, Access to Strategic Research, Mentorship, Leadership Development, Networking and Recognition.  

In 2017 the LED Growth Network was launched consisting of companies that have graduated from CEO Roundtables, Strategic Research or Leadership Retreats. Through the Growth Network, the foundation offers access to an additional suite of resources designed to continue accelerating business growth. (Currently) the LED Growth Network includes close to 700 companies that provide more than 23,000 full-time jobs and generate $4.2 Billion in annual sales across Louisiana. LED is now packaging Diversity in Entrepreneurship and Rural Entrepreneurship Initiatives aimed to women and minorities and businesses in rural communities. Second stage companies are powerful job creators, comprising 16% of all enterprises and generating 38% of jobs. The LED team understood the dramatic economic impact of second stage companies on their communities and, in partnership with the Edward Lowe Foundation, has provided a series of successful programs and a variety of assistance to support them.  

So what have been the keys to success for serving second stage entrepreneurs in Louisiana? According to Chris Cassagne from Louisiana Economic Development: 

  1. Through a powerful partnership between LED and the Edward Lowe Foundation, the two organizations bring their strengths forward. For LED it’s providing connectivity to promising 2nd stage entrepreneurs and for the Edward Lowe Foundation, it’s bringing decades of experience and understanding second stage CEOs and their award-winning programs and process to the table. 
  1. By piloting programs, LED has been able to start small, test assumptions, and make refinements that have allowed these programs to gain traction fast and scale across the state. Pacing the growth of programs based on demonstrated success has allowed for increased sustainability, meaning you don’t have to start big to create an impact. 
  1. Dedicated staff with at least one person who takes ownership of the programs has been key.  
  1. Buy in from leadership at the highest levels (executive management, legislators, the Governor’s office and stakeholders) can foster increased support. 
  1. Tracking success and providing feedback to stakeholders regarding impact, new jobs, increases in sales and the return on investment.  


SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversations 

SourceLink Affiliate Quarterly Conversations are an exclusive benefit for SourceLink clients. Agendas include topics, speakers and discussions suggested by our community of network and ecosystem builders and is an opportunity to share best practices and with one another. For more information about becoming a SourceLink affiliate and joining our conversations, please contact Krista Markley, Director of Business Development, [email protected].