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The Creating a Regional Entrepreneurial System Together (CREST) program assists Indiana communities in transforming their economies through the development of key components required for fostering a high quality environment for entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship development is an elusive concept for many community leaders who have traditionally relied upon recruitment as their primary economic development strategy. In fact, for most rural communities, the encouragement and support of entrepreneurship is the best (and for some, the only realistic) economic development strategy. Creating a Regional Entrepreneurial System Together provides a framework for communities to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that will permeate all the elements that contribute to a community’s quality of life.
Creating a Regional Entrepreneurship System Together (CREST) is comprised of a series of learning modules that combine face-to-face technical assistance and input from a broad coalition of partners that are part of a community or region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. The initial modules introduce the importance of and techniques used by communities to promote entrepreneurship. The remaining modules provide the core foundation for creating an entrepreneurial system in communities and regions. The framework is flexible and can be customized to meet communities and regions where they are rather than prescribing a ‘one size fits all’ methodology. In the end, CREST is meant to be implemented in a community or region over four to nine months and culminates in the design, implementation and evaluation of an entrepreneurship-focused project that builds upon local and regional assets. A ‘regional’ approach is taken because every community must recognize and leverage the fact that at least some of their entrepreneurial system lies outside of their political borders.
CREST Strategic Planning activities (Figure above) incorporate asset-based best practices that guide participants through a high-touch process that seeks to cultivate community buy-in and active engagement by stakeholders.
The entire process can be tailored to your community. In general, the process is outlined in the Figure above. The ‘Awareness’ stage offers the community an opportunity to gauge their readiness, develop a baseline and map out current activities that contribute to creating an entrepreneurial system. The ‘Organization’ phase examines the roles that existing businesses and organizations play. Oftentimes, there are several organizations that contribute, but they do not collaborate. Aligning these organizations, businesses and governmental agencies bolsters efficiency and strengthens support for new businesses. The ‘Planning’ and ‘Projects’ phases provide a platform – through collaboration coupled with technical assistance – for participants to actively participate in the planning and implementation of an impactful project and sustainable plan. The ‘Evaluation’ phase serves to further community engagement and improve the entrepreneurial system.
Creating community and civic environments that celebrate and support entrepreneurs
Facilitating opportunities for informal gatherings of entrepreneurs to share experiences and information
Identifying sources of all seven community capitals in the form most useful for the stage of business development
Programs to excite young people about the possibilities of creating their own businesses
The Indiana Small Business Development Center (ISBDC) was created to have a positive and measurable impact on the formation, growth and sustainability of small businesses in Indiana and to help Hoosier entrepreneurs start stronger, grow faster and work smarter.
This is an online resource for the Cooperative Extension System and their stakeholders interested in cultivating entrepreneurship at the community level.
The Center helps community leaders build a prosperous future by supporting and empowering business, social and civic entrepreneurs.
North Dakota State University Extension maintains this ‘one-stop shop’ online resource for entrepreneurship and small business development.
Michael serves as the CREST team leader and specializes in economic development. He first developed CREST in Tennessee and brought the program to Indiana upon joining Purdue Extension.
Heather serves as a CREST team member and Purdue Extension Regional Educator and specializes in small business development. She is heavily involved in Purdue Extension’s Business Retention & Expansion program and the Purdue Center for Regional Development’s Economic Gardening program. She led two Small Business Development Centers (in Tennessee and Indiana) prior to joining Purdue Extension.
Tanya serves as a CREST team member and Purdue Extension Regional Educator and specializes in economic development and data analysis. She also serves on the Purdue Center for Regional Development’s Economic Gardening team, has contributed to the Transforming Your Local and Regional Economy series and served as a coach for the Hometown Collaboration Initiative and Stronger Economies Together.
Melinda serves as a CREST team member and specializes in Community Development with a strong interest in building entrepreneurial networks. She is a Community and Regional Development Specialist with the Purdue Center for Regional Development, and her efforts are focused on the Defense Manufacturing Assistance Program and leadership development. She was the Purdue Extension Director and Community Development Educator in Clinton County where she played a significant role in cultivating an entrepreneurial system of support to small and medium-sized businesses.
To learn more about Purdue Extension’s Creating a Regional Entrepreneurial System Together program, contact: