Entrepreneurship is an Economic Driver for Norman
When you think of innovation and entrepreneurship, does Norman land in your top 10 list? It should. More than 11 percent of Norman reports being self-employed—exceeding the average American community and that of communities that are often considered to be among the most entrepreneurially minded and startup friendly such as Boulder and Ann Arbor.
Supporting entrepreneurship is a good investment in our city. Entrepreneurs set up businesses, create jobs, attract new money through venture capital investments and contribute to improving the quality of life through innovations. It is also a good strategy to keep and engage our younger workforce. Lendingtree.com reported that Gen X led nearly 42 percent of new businesses founded in the last five years, followed by millennials who founded almost 38 percent.
NEDC has made intentional efforts to cultivate entrepreneurship by making significant investments in engaging and supporting startups and entrepreneurs. In 2017, NEDC launched Startup 405, an Oklahoma Department of Commerce certified business incubator located on the OU Research Campus. Young companies in Startup 405 have access to resources, collaborative workspace, tax exemptions and mentors who can help them grow a sustainable business model.
In addition to statewide experts and resources, NEDC is fortunate to have excellent partners like the Norman Chamber of Commerce, the City of Norman, OU and MNTC, that support an entrepreneurial ecosystem.
NEDC also created an entrepreneurship council, a community-wide committee to address ways to improve our ecosystem for startups. The committee recommended to the board launching a reimagined incubator program, the Norman Innovation Challenge and a Norman Chapter of 1 Million Cups, all important projects that have elevated Norman’s position as an entrepreneurially minded and startup-friendly community.
When experts assess the best places to start a business, they evaluate factors such as a supportive business environment and culture, job growth, 5-year business startup survival, access to resources and business costs.
Norman hits all these points and with the continued efforts of NEDC and our partners, we can continue cultivating entrepreneurship in our city. Just like our visionary young companies, we see the opportunities to grow our economy and our city and are finding ways to make it happen.