New Orleans is known for many things. It is home to a mixture of cultures that together have produced some of the best and most memorable food, music and sightseeing you can find anywhere. It is also one of the fastest growing entrepreneurial centers in the U.S., replete with world-class incubators and accelerators. In 2012, Forbes listed it as the No. 1 brain magnet in the country for college students, praising its “communal camaraderie and business incubators that have helped many of the startups get off the ground.” While Inc. magazine called it the “coolest start-up city in America.”
New Orleans was the site of NBIA’s 10th National Conference on Business Incubation in 1996. The theme that year was “Thriving in Changing Times.” No one could have imagined how prophetic that theme would turn out to be, and nowhere have the challenges been greater than in New Orleans.
The city that suffered a population exodus and required substantial reconstruction after a devastating 2005 hurricane season is now bustling with start-ups and those start-ups are growing into thriving companies. In 2013, New Orleans was home to 501 start-ups per 100,000 adults compared with 320 in the United States. That’s 56 percent higher than the national average according to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center.
Through teamwork and enormous group effort, New Orleans is back, strong and enticing as ever. It is, therefore, the perfect place for NBIA’s 28th International Conference on Business Incubation, May 18-21. This year’s theme, “Entrepreneurship Energizing Economies,” is entirely appropriate for a city that has in the last nine years, exemplified that very thing.
As incubator managers and entrepreneur support professionals, you may be responsible to help with small details to broad strategic decisions – and it’s all equally important. Whether the morning is spent helping a small business map their finances, balance their checkbooks or build a reasonable profit and loss statement or helping a second stage pharmaceutical company navigate FDA guidelines – the support you provide helps companies survive and prosper, which helps diversify economies and build healthy economic systems.
That range of potential services and breadth of knowledge required is difficult to cover – let alone – do it exceptionally. How do incubation programs fulfill their missions when the scope of services is so broad and the competition for resources and clients so great?
To start, successful programs focus on their strengths, build internal and external capacity by coordinating with other industry professionals who can offer complementary skills and services and they build programs to service existing and future market needs. New Orleans is building a vibrant commercial center using these concepts, and some of the incubation industry’s most respected leaders are helping to shape entrepreneurship throughout the region. NBIA’s conference is a unique opportunity to experience entrepreneurship energizing economies at its best. For example, the Louisiana Business and Technology Center in Baton Rouge, La., celebrating its 25th year, has expanded programming beyond basic entrepreneur support to include a thriving student entrepreneurship program that has helped support 131 young professionals build successful companies. It also launched a traveling entrepreneur support program to work in rural areas and rebuild communities in the wake of storms and economic distress. The LBTC built these programs and the programs are successful because they meet their communities and market needs and talented people who are invested in their work manage them.
The cornerstone of this process is the interaction and collaboration of industry professionals. NBIA’s International Conference on Business Incubation creates an opportunity for industry professionals to learn from the best in the business and share what programs and services work and why —what is the economic and political climate that supports such activities and how did that climate evolve in that place? What business support services are most valuable to growing companies and how are those services most effectively delivered?
Take advantage of an economy of scale – more than 600 industry professionals attend NBIA’s annual conference. Can you afford to miss the opportunity to find out what they know?
Do entrepreneurs need strategic planning advice to structure their business for growth or do they need access to supplies and services to increase efficiencies and capture greater market share?
Find out this May in New Orleans.—Bridget Lair
Keywords: access to capital, client services, best practices, NBIA conference
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