National Business Incubation Association; Your source for knowledge and networks in business incubation

Lobbying 101: How incubator managers connect with legislators

by Linda Knopp

December 2007

Each spring, the Louisiana Business Incubation Association joins with several other entrepreneur support organizations throughout the state to host an entrepreneurship day at the state legislature. The event gives incubator executives and others a chance to share information about the challenges and opportunities faced by the state’s business owners. The day features speeches by state officials and business leaders, displays by entrepreneurial support organizations, and opportunities to interact with legislators.

“This forum provides an opportunity for entrepreneurs within the state to voice concerns to members of the Louisiana legislature about the entrepreneurial business sector’s role in advancing the state’s economic development efforts,” says Louisiana Business & Technology Center Executive Director Charles D’Agostino. “It also provides a valuable opportunity for LBTC to extend its efforts in spurring small business development within Louisiana.”

As D’Agostino and other incubator executives have discovered, local, state and national policymakers should be regular targets of an incubator’s ongoing marketing efforts. Why? On the national level, Congress regularly discusses legislation that affects small businesses (and business incubators), and senators and representatives have opportunities to earmark federal funds for projects in their districts (like business incubators). At the state and local level, legislators have even more economic development dollars at their discretion, so it’s just good business sense for incubator managers to share their success stories with those who hold the purse strings.

But how do you go about educating public officials about business incubation, especially when your time – and theirs – is limited? Read on for some tips from some incubator managers and others who have developed successful relationships with their elected representatives.

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Keywords: advocacy, effective communication, marketing and promotion, networking, partnerships -- organizational/corporate, policy, stakeholder development, strategic partnerships

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