Assessing the Pee Dee Region’s Entrepreneurial Potential at the start of the 21st Century and Developments since the Great Recession as Context for Economic Development Policy Considerations Regarding Business Incubators and Other Activities Designed to Spur Growth
13 Pages Posted: 8 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 8, 2015
Throughout much of its history, the Pee Dee region of northeastern South Carolina has been home to small-town merchants, talented craftspeople, and progressive farmers, all willing to take the risks necessary to build their businesses and live the life of their choosing. It is a legacy of entrepreneurship and small business ownership of which the people of the region are proud.
However, the Pee Dee region is facing rapidly evolving pressures from today’s global, new economy. Past economic successes based on the availability of cheap labor and land are fading as current economic prospects are being shaped by new categories of regional assets such as workforce skills, lifestyle amenities, access to capital and information, and innovative activity.
Thus, future regional economic success is highly dependent on finding new ways to exploit these assets. One promising approach to regional economic growth is entrepreneurship. It has been associated with the creation of employment (Hornaday and Aboud, 1971). Research has demonstrated that entrepreneurial firms are responsible for creating a disproportionate number of new jobs in the economy (Birch, 1979) and for stimulating regional economic prosperity (Acs and Armington, 2003). In addition, both the frequency and degree of entrepreneurial behaviors involves the innovative uses of other regional assets and resources such as innovation, risk taking and pro-activeness (Colvin and Slevin, 1989; Miller, 1983; Morris and Sexton, 1996). In fact, studies have demonstrated that the entrepreneurial process is a critical mechanism impacting the overall creation of new products and processes, value creation, new technologies, profit, jobs, economic growth, and societal wealth (Birch, 1981; Morris and Lewis, 1991).
Despite the growing acceptance of entrepreneurship as a strong driver of regional economic growth, acceptable ways of measuring entrepreneurship still are not widely available. Researchers have reported success in measuring a company’s entrepreneurial orientation and in linking that orientation to various strategic and performance variables (Colvin and Slevin, 1989, 1990; Davis, Morris and Allen, 1991; Morris and Sexton, 1996). Without standard measures of entrepreneurship, it is difficult to evaluate a region’s entrepreneurial activity and to assess ways to stimulate the pace of regional economic growth.
Fortunately, the Center for the Study of Rural America of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City has developed measures of entrepreneurial activity for every county in the United States (Low, 2004). The Center’s measures focus on the breadth and depth of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship breadth is the widespread dispersion of entrepreneurial activity across a region. Entrepreneurial breadth reflects the size and variety of small businesses in a region that create the foundations of economic growth. The second measure, depth of entrepreneurial activity in a region, represents the value these small businesses generate for themselves and their local economies.
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